Reporters Without Borders is pleased to learn of the release of two well-known Omani bloggers and activists, Muawiyah Al-Rawahi and Noah Al-Saadi, who were arrested on 12 July for criticizing the government in their blogs.
“We are relieved that these two bloggers and human rights defenders have been freed after nearly a month in detention,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “We nonetheless point out that their arrests were arbitrary. The authorities must put a stop to such practices, whose sole aim is to restrict freedom of expression and information in Oman.” It was Rawahi, 31, who announced his release on his Facebook page on 11 August, a month after his arrest. A photo of him in a psychiatric hospital with his ankles shackled circulated on social networks but the exact circumstances of his detention are still not known. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, he spent four days in an Internal Security Service prison before being transferred to Al-Masarra psychiatric hospital. Then, a week later, he was reportedly transferred to the psychiatric department of Sultan Qaboos University Hospital. Rawahi was arrested in connection with a post on his blog “Bo’bo’ Wassaa” on 11 July in which he criticized the regime’s repressive practices. He was previously arrested in February 2012 over a post and tweets critical of Sultan Qaboos Ben Said. Saadi was released on 7 August without being charged. An impassioned human rights defender, he was arrested by internal security officials without any official reason being given. After his arrest, he was held at a special police section in Muscat without being allowed to see a lawyer or talk to his family. He was previously arrested in September 2013 in connection with his human rights activism.