Two newspaper journalists in Oman were sentenced Thursday to five months in prison for reporting alleged government corruption.
Editor Ibrahim al-Mammari and reporter Yousef al-Haj were jailed ‘for insulting the justice minister and his undersecretary by accusing them of deception and fraud in a recent article,’ Reuters said.
The Azzaman newspaper also had to suspend publication for a month.
An employee in the justice ministry was given a five month prison sentence for ‘telling the journalists that a ministry employee had been denied his salary and benefits by the justice minister without valid cause,’ Reuters said.
A spokesman for the newspaper said it had appealed the case and a hearing will be held next month.
Reporters Without Borders said defendant Yousef al-Haj was ‘summoned at short notice for interrogation at the prosecutor’s office on 5 July, without having time to notify his lawyer.’ He was then charged with insulting the justice ministry, insulting the justice minister and his under-secretary, trying to create divisions within Omani society, violating article 60 of the civil code (the publications law) , and working as a journalist without a permit.
Reuters said a blogger was jailed for a month last year in Oman for criticizing a government minister.
On its press freedom index, Reporters Without Borders ranks Oman 124 out of 178 countries, down from 106 the year before.