Rights group denounces Oman newspaper closure

Rights group denounces Oman newspaper closure
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is urging for international pressure after Omani authorities suspended a newspaper, in the latest blow to press freedom in the region.
2 min read
10 August, 2016
Oman is ranked 125th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index[Getty]
Rights campaigners have urged for international pressure on Oman to protect press freedom on Wednesday after authorities closed a newspaper whose editor was arrested in connection with criticism of the judiciary.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights said Oman's information ministry ordered the Azaman daily, including its online edition, to be shut down indefinitely.

It urged the west, including the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Britain and other governments "to act immediately in order to protect press freedom in the country and ensure the release of the detained journalists".

Editor Ibrahim al-Maamari was arrested along with two colleagues just two days after the newspaper published an article accusing public officials of corruption and interference in judicial decisions.

They are not allowed to contact their families or lawyers, the rights group added.

Later on Wednesday, the newspaper's website displayed pictures of Zaher al-Abri and Yousef al-Haj along with al-Maamari, adding a statement confirming the suspension of the publication.

Last week, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticised the detention of al-Maamari and called for his immediate release.

"We condemn Ibrahim al-Maamari's arrest and continuing detention," Alexandra el-Khazen, Reporters Without Border's Middle East chief, said in a statement.

"By punishing this journalist in this way and by keeping him in detention, the Sultanate of Oman is sending a negative message about media freedom and is demonstrating an inability to tolerate criticism of the political and judicial system," she said.

"We call for an independent and impartial investigation and for al-Maamari's immediate release."

Oman is ranked 125th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index, which notes Syria, Sudan and Djibouti among the worst in the region.