Six Men Jailed for Slander in Oman
Six men were sentenced to prison for slander by an Omani court on September 10. The sentences, ranging from 1 year to 18 months, referenced the defendants’ criticism of the government. The men, Is’hac bin Sultan bin Yusuf al-Aghbari, Ismail bin Ali bin Hamdan al-Miqbali, Ali bin Mubarak bin Khamis al-Hajji, Mahmoud bin Mohammed bin Nasser al-Jamoodi, Hassan bin Khamis bin Mohamed al-Ruqaishi, and Nabhan bin Salim bin Abdullah al-Hanashi, were also accused of “violating information technology regulations” and fined 1,000 rials ($2,600) each, the Omani state news agency ONA reported.
Although Oman has yet to experience an upheaval on par with other Arab nations, there have been protests over political reform and unemployment in the recent months. With harsh crackdowns on dissent by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said’s government, activists have been detained and handed prison sentences.
A statement from Freedom House found the sentences to be “another worrying sign of escalating efforts by the government to tighten its control online and offline following Arab Spring-inspired unrest”. It concluded by saying that “Oman must reverse the sentences against the six men, and repeal all laws that criminalize defamation.”