The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Friday asked Omani authorities to immediately release journalist Mukhtar Al-Hanai after police arrested him for covering a news article on embezzlement cases.
CPJ in a statement called on the Omani government to allow the press to work freely and without fear of legal harassment, detention, or intimidation.
Al-Hanai, a journalist working for Atheer news website, was arrested on March 15 and criminal charges under Article 249 of the Omani penal code, had been filed against him.
CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher, Justin Shilad said that intimidating journalists who report on “embezzlement cases” is a counter-intuitive anticorruption strategy.
Shilad called on the Omani authorities to immediately drop all charges against Al-Hanai, and restrain them from meddling in the journalist’s work while covering sensitive issues.
Al-Hanai on March 9 in a tweet said that eight government officials had been found guilty of embezzlement and falsifying government records.
Al-Hanai also said that the Omani Ministry of Information was not allowing the reporters to cover the news.
CPJ said it has sent an email to the Omani Ministry of Information but did not receive any reply so far.
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