Freedom House strongly condemns the sentencing of four peaceful protesters accused of insulting the Sultan and calls for their immediate release.
On July 9, 2012 the Criminal Court of First Instance in Muscat sentenced Hamoud El-Rashidy and Hamed El-Khrowsy to six months and one year in jail, respectively. El-Khrowsy posted a poem to Facebook in which he allegedly criticized the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos. Mahmoud Hamed and Ali El-Mokably were sentenced to a year for defaming the Sultan as well, in addition to using Facebook to urge others to protest.
Oman is rated Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press surveys and imposes some of the heaviest restrictions on publications and the press in the Arab world. Internet freedom is seriously limited, as the government exercises extensive control over content, periodically shutting down sites it deems politically or sexually offensive.