Last updated: 30 August, 2017

10 pro-reform activists freed on bail in Oman

An Omani court on Friday released on bail 10 pro-reform activists while keeping four others behind bars on charges of defaming the sultan, a defence lawyer said.

Yacoub al-Harithi told AFP the 10 activists released were charged with participating in “illegal gatherings and blocking roads.” Their verdict is to be delivered on July 11.

But the other four in the group which includes bloggers, writers and lawyers are accused of “crimes against state security” with their alleged defamation of Oman’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos, he said.

Harithi said a verdict in their trial would be handed down on July 9.

A total of 36 pro-reform activists have been arrested for anti-government actions since the beginning of June.

Paris-based watchdog Reporters without Borders has urged Oman to release them.

“We deplore the illegal and random nature of these arrests. We ask the authorities to release the bloggers immediately and unconditionally and to call a halt to arbitrary arrests,” RSF said.

Human Rights Watch also urged Omani authorities to “immediately” release the activists.

“Instead of listening, Omani authorities are arresting and prosecuting them to silence them,” said HRW’s Deputy Middle East director Joe Stork.

Oman was hit by a wave of protests last year demanding political reforms and riot police dispersed the demonstrations with force.