Omani newspaper was shot down, journalists detained after reporting on corruption

Omani newspaper was shot down, journalists detained after reporting on corruptionThree journalists from Azamn daily newspaper have been detained in connection with an article highlighting allegations of corruption in the Omani judiciary published on 26 July, Amnesty International reported Wednesday.

Deputy Editor in Chief, Youssef al-Haj, was arrested on Tuesday and hours later newspaper was shut down along with it online website.

“It appears that the journalists from Azamn are being punished for carrying out their legitimate journalistic work. Criticizing the judiciary or reporting allegations of suspected corruption is not a crime. If they are being detained solely in connection with their journalistic work, Oman’s authorities must immediately release them,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Still it is unclear if journalists have been charged and the nature of this charges.

The article that was published in Azamn probably sparked the fire. It 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. Two days later, the Editor in Chief of the newspaper Ibrahim al–Maamari was summoned by the authorities and detained for questioning.

After several more journalists were detain in early August, Azamn published a series of articles based on exclusive interviews with the Vice-President of Oman’s Supreme Court, Ali al-No’mani, confirming allegations of corruption made in the earlier article. It all resulted in present situation.

Oman’s state news agency published a statement, citing an unnamed government source, describing the articles about corruption as “a flagrant violation of the limits and ethics of freedom of expression" warning that the articles were damaging to one of the country’s most important institutions.
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