The latest to be detained was deputy editor Youssef Al-Haj, who was arrested on 9 August, six days after Zaher Al-Abri, Azamn’s local news editor. The first was editor Ibrahim Al-Maamari, who was arrested on 28 July, two days after the offending article’s publication.
In a related move, the information ministry ordered the suspension of Azamn’s print and online editions with effect from 9 August. According to the Omani Commission for Human Rights, the three journalists will be taken before a judge next week.
RSF calls on the Omani authorities to release the three journalists at once and to allow the newspaper to resume publishing.
“These draconian measures, the arrests of the journalists and the newspaper’s closure, show that the authorities are determined to silence them,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.
The deputy editor’s arrest came one day after he reported in the newspaper that he had interviewed supreme court vice-president Ali Al-Nomani and that, in the course of the interview, Al-Nomani had confirmed the suspicions of corruption in the case covered by Azamn. He also reported that Al-Nomani had voiced support for the newspaper and its journalists.
The Sultanate of Oman is ranked 125th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.