Reporters Without Borders condemns the appeal court rulings issued during the past two weeks that uphold the prison sentences passed on a total of 28 netizens last summer.
“These arbitrary decisions represent a new stage in the sultanate’s determination to gag netizens whose only crime was to exercise their right to express opinions and provide information about the policies of the sultan and his government,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call for their immediate release.”
On 12 December, a Muscat appeal court presided by three judges upheld the sentences of one-year in prison and fine of 200 riyals (420 euros) imposed on 8 August on 11 netizens on charges of illegal assembly and disturbing public order. Some of the 11 were also convicted of lèse-majesté and violating the cyber-crime law. The 11 were:
On the same day, the court also upheld sentences ranging from six months to one year in prison that were imposed on 9 and 16 July on 11 other netizens on charges of lèse-majesté and cyber-crime. One of them, Mahmoud Al-Rawahi, was already convicted of “illegal assembly” and “disturbing pubic order.” The other ten were:
On 5 December, the court upheld the convictions of Abdallah Al-Abedli, Mohammad Al-Kayoumi, Bassam Abu-Kassida, Aissi Al-Massaoudi, Hilal Al-Bousaidi and Maimouna Baadi on lèse-majesté charges. LINK
The six were sentenced on 6 August to a year in prison and a fine of 1,000 riyals (2,130 euros) on charges of insulting Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed Al-Saeed on online social networks and violating the cyber-crime law. Maimouna Baadi’s sentence was commuted to 20 days in detention.
The netizens have all been held in Sumayil high-security prison since 15 December. They have the possibility of appealing to the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeal court. The cases of other activists are to be heard on 26 December.