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Oman’s Azamn newspaper closed, three journalists jailed

Oman’s Azamn newspaper closed, three journalists jailed

The three were described as exceeding the limits of free speech

An Omani court has ordered the permanent closure of a newspaper and the jailing of its three journalists after it reported on alleged corruption within the judiciary

The privately owned Azamn newspaper was suspended from publishing last month and the three were detained in connection with an article published on July 26.

Read: Oman suspends Azamn newspaper following corruption allegations

Ibrahim Al-Mamari, editor-in-chief of Azamn and deputy and managing editor Youssef Al-Balushi were both fined OMR3,000 ($7,791) and jailed for three years, according to Reuters.

A third journalist, Zaher Al Abri, was fined OMR1,000 ($2,597) and sentenced to a year in jail.

The three were described in a statement as exceeding the limits of free speech and drifting into “harming of the pillars of the state, the judiciary”.

Mamari and Balushi were found guilty of undermining the prestige of the state, disturbing public order, misusing the internet and publishing details of a personal status case by Muscat Court of First Instance.

Balushi was also individually convicted of slander and publishing a report on Mamari’s arrest in violation of a ban imposed by the Information Ministry, Reuters said.

Bail Mamari and Balushiin the case of an appeal was set at OMR50,000 ($130,000) and OMR5,000 ($13,000) for Abri.

Amnesty International previously claimed the three were being punished for carrying out legitimate journalistic work.

The July 26 article accused the head of Oman’s Supreme Court and the chairman of the Judicial Council of intervening in the outcome of verdicts on behalf of influential officials, according to the organisation.

Two days later Mamari was summoned by authorities and detained for questioning, followed by Abri on August 3, Amnesty said.

Balushi, referred to as Youssef al-Haj by Amnesty, then published a series of articles based on interviews with the vice president of Oman’s Supreme Court Ali al-No’mani reportedly confirming allegations of corruption made in the previous article.

He was arrested following the latest of these published on August 9, Amnesty said.

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