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Oman jails human rights activist

An Omani court jailed a prominent human rights activist for three years on Sunday. Said Jadad was found guilty of a range of offences including "undermining the state". According to local media, this involved writing an open letter to US President Barack Obama about human rights in the country.

Oman is an important ally of the West. It witnessed Arab Spring protests in 2011 and has tried to clamp down on public dissent, arresting rights activists who criticise authorities on social media.

Lawyer Yaboub Al-Harthi said the Court of First Instance in Muscat had found Jadad, who took part in the 2011 protests, guilty of "undermining the prestige of the state", inciting the public to join an illegal gathering and using the internet to publish materials that disturb public order. As well as the jail sentence, Jadad was also ordered to pay fines totalling 1,700 rials ($4,470). The court set a 2,000 rial bail for any decision to free him pending an appeal, which Al-Harthi said that his client intends to lodge.

An Omani online newspaper said that Jadad had expressed "dismay" in his letter to Obama over US policies regarding human rights in the Gulf region. "We expect the United States," he wrote, "as a superpower, to stand by the people and to support the principles of democracy and human rights."

Mowatin revealed that Jadad's lawyer argued in court that the message was written under the right to freedom of opinion and expression and that the accused had already suffered personally from human rights abuses. These included being detained for seven days without a warrant and having his documents seized without a court ruling.

A 2014 report by the Monitor of Human Rights in Oman looked at human rights abuses in the country; it claimed that a number of activists have been detained. They include Talib Al-Maamari, a member of Oman's consultative Shura Council, who was jailed for four years for undermining the state and other offences.

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