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Activists handed prison sentences for participating in peaceful demonstration

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 10 July 2012 - ANHRI denounces the verdict issued against several activists for expressing their opinions and participating in a peaceful demonstration, held in June 2012, in solidarity with other detained activists. The jail sentences against Ismail El-Mqbaly, Mahmoud Hamed, Habiba El-Hana'y and Yakob El-Khrowsy range from six months to one year.

On 9 July, the Muscat First Instance Court issued a six-month prison sentence against Hamoud El-Rashdy on charges of defamation for reportedly holding up a sign with "certain sentences directed at Sultan Qaboos" . Yakob El-Khrowsy, Mahmoud Hamed and Ismail El-Mqbaly were sentenced to a year in prison for allegedly violating information technology law for postings they had put up on Facebook.

The activists were detained following protests calling for the release of three activists who were detained in June while on their way to Fohoud oil field to check on the conditions of workers on strike. A few days later, a statement by Muscat's public prosecutor threatened to take "all appropriate legal measures" against activists who have made "defamatory writings and inciting calls under the pretext of freedom of expression."

According to their lawyer, the four activists were granted bail of 1000 Omani Rials (approx. US$2600) pending the outcome of the appeal.

ANHRI condemns "the verdicts issued against the activists and denounces the Omani government's violation of freedom of opinion and expression by using the Omani prosecution, which are independent only in name, to eliminate all voices calling for freedom".

ANHRI calls for the immediate release of all the activists currently detained in Omani prisons for simply expressing their opinions as it violates all the international treaties and covenants.
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