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Omani court jails online activist 3 years: NGO

AFP , Monday 9 Mar 2015
Sultan Qaboos
File Photo: Oman's leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said (Photo: Reuters)
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An Omani court has jailed a rights activist for three years after convicting him of sowing unrest in the normally stable sultanate through social media networks, a rights group said Monday.

The court of first instance in Muscat sentenced on Sunday Saeed Jaddad in three cases, the Monitor of Human Rights in Oman organisation said.

These included "undermining the status and prestige of the state," inciting rallies through posts on social media ahead of the anniversary of February 2011 protests in his hometown of Salalah.

He was also convicted of using the Internet to "call for what could undermine public order" and was fined 1,000 rials ($2,600), the non-governmental organisation said.

The protests, part of demonstrations that broke out in the usually calm sultanate of Oman taking their cue from Arab Spring uprisings, prompted Sultan Qaboos to reshuffle his government.

Amnesty International warned in January that Jaddad's health was "seriously deteriorating" after he went on hunger strike to protest his detention.

He was hospitalised on January 23, before being returned to custody.

The prominent activist and blogger, described by Amnesty as a "prisoner of conscience" was originally arrested in December last year.

Scores of activists have been convicted of defaming or using social media networks to insult the sultan, who has ruled for 44 years.

Others have either been convicted or are being tried for taking part in demonstrations calling for political reform.

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