Thursday, August 20, 2009

Isn't it Ironic? Journalist erased from Omani Newspaper, questioned and deported for ... criticising press freedom in Oman

I'm not very happy writing this blog post, dear readers. Not at all.

I didn't think this would ever happened here. Not these days. And maybe it hasn't.

But... I must offer you the facts. You join the dots.

Here's the story.

A few days ago, I was told anonymously that a newspaper reporter in Oman, a Mr. Arun Solomon, had apparently been summarily arrested, questioned, and deported, along with his family, for [allegedly] writing an opinion piece for a foreign newspaper that was (so we are told - no one can now find it) somewhat critical of Oman's general media performance standards-wise; mentioning at the same time such descriptive phrases as 'the Middle Ages'.

Yeah, right, I thought. (I get this stuff all the time, and its usually false.)

I did, naturally, google Mr Solomon, as you do, and in the process read many of his totally acceptable and harmless opinion editorials here in Oman, and news reports, via the web. I could do that only thanks to his newspaper of employment for some significant duration it seemed, The Oman Tribune.

I didn't find anything a fraction unsafe or political.

yet, I asked around. Why not. Follow through.


'Yes' was the answer, 'it's true, but shhhh'.

I still didn't believe it. No way. For mouthing off in an overseas paper? Under what law? About how crap our media is? How can that be seriously considered a state secret? LMAOFOFL

But, now,... when I go back to google and do the same searches for Arun's stuff, and follow the links to the Oman Tribune, I get
'ERROR page not found'.

And if I now go to the index page of the 'Opinion' section of The Oman Tribune, surprise surprise, no mention of Mr Arun Solomon.


It was rather spooky.

Go on. You try finding Arun on the Trib's site now by doing a simple Google Search. Follow any link.

See? Zip. Nada. No one home to the name Mr. Arun Solomon at the old Oman Tribune. Like, I'm sorry, Who?

Even if the Tribune has had an attack of what one might call the Essa Al Zedjali's Alzheimer's; fortunately, the web has a memory of course.

Those and Google spiders and servers are out there surfing the web 24/7, gobbling up it seems even the uneventful web publications of The Oman Tribune.

And funnily enough, they still remember Arun Solomon, and the stuff he wrote for the Tribune!

There's more of his stuff there... you just have to ask Google or Bing for the "cached page" instead of actually going to the link. And there he still is, gainfuly employed at the Tribune as of a few days ago. Its almost like a spooky, virtual previous life/alternative Universe.

You can even still (until they read this and fix it perhaps) do a search on the Tribune's own website for "Arun Solomon" and get a zillion hits.... but try finding the words Arun or Solomon in the links you're offered... and there's nothing.

Which, you know, rather disappointed me. Because, surely we wouldn't deport someone for that? And even worse, try to erase him from history? Its soooo,... Kim Yung Il guys.

And - damn it! - I still haven't even seen what he wrote that was apparently so illegal, ... or if he even did!

And that's sort of weird.... seeing as I'm told he was, as they say, 'assisting ISS with inquiries' non-stop for a week.

Arun has, apparently, now left the country. Maybe. If he was ever here...


  1. Dragon- I would like to make two comments.

    1) There are very few facts now known. We must be careful about speculation until more is revealed.

    2) The power of the Internet. First as a broadcast medium- now we all know about the incident. And secondly, since it is a distributed system, if someone puts a 'block' in one location, you can simply go around it; and, if someone tried to 'erase' information in one location, you simply go somewhere else for it.

    But you can't believe everything on the Internet is accurate.

  2. Well, they used to dissapear in the night or go fishing with a concrete lifejacket. Now they just deport them! As one (banned) book says in the first paragraph...''Oman, a hot country for shady people''! Hasn't changed much in 40 years really.

    When I read the venomous bile that Essa writes, the bigoted predudiced comments that would get him locked up in any other civilised country, yet he not only carries on but gets worse! Very strange but not unpredictible.

  3. Well, the Trib does use "The Edge of Knowledge" as its tagline - it just doesn't say which edge.

    But the whole thing is truly sad and I suppose meant as a warning to the rest of the expat journos.

    Word Verification: "unfishe" - what this whole matter sounds nots to be.

  4. They really should consider the international consequences of this. By all means deport someone if he is a threat, insults HM or something similar but this is draconian and does Oman no good whatsoever.

  5. To paraphrase an Internet 'standard': "All your Blog belong to us"

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Hi Hubert Vaaz chief reporter of Hi magazine, Usha Santosh of PR department of State council are among the victims of Arun Solomon

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. To know more about this fake journalist write to I was his colleague at Oman Tribune earlier.

  13. Jugnpradeep- Perhaps the guy was an asshole, but the rule of law should apply to assholes as well.

  14. Abd

    That's the problem with the lack of transparency and real news. Who knows?

    I also heard Arun was not exactly adored by his colleagues, but I thought under the basic law of the Sultanate everyone was entitled to a fair trial.

    Else, who of us is safe?

    Plus, I'm deleting your more libelous comments. We stick to the law here on Muscat Confidential...

  15. Hi dragon I am glad that you scaled down the issue of Arun's humiliating exit from a question of journalistic freedom to right to be heard. But several journalists who were ousted by Arun did not enjoy that right.

    By deleting my responses you have responded in the same autocratic manner like the authorities.

  16. Without knowing and verifying the real reasons of Arun's exit please don't glorify him.If Arun was a great journalist reproduce some of his works in your blogpost. T

  17. Jugnu

    Nope, its still about the same thing - arbitrary arrest and deportation without trial.

    The comments were deleted because they were libel, which is illegal. Instead I suggest you express an opinion, rather than make claims about 'facts'.

    As a 'journalist', I'd have expected you to know where the line is between fair comment and libel...

  18. Dragon you can reproduce some of the great stories did by Arun in India if he was a great journalist known for his bold stories. That won't create problem in Oman.

    The fact that Arun was a journalist does not entitle him any special rights to escape from other legal violations he did.

  19. I agree that arbitrary arrest and deportation are not fair. But Dragon have you verfied that he did not have a trial?

    Several journalists from Oman Tribune underwent the same process earlier. Nobody made it an issue.

  20. UD, Oman was never a country where people disappear in the middle of the night never to be seen again, or where people go "fishing in concrete jackets". Even back in the 70's where this was Paranoia Central and everyone was a potential marxist spy or terrorist, and people were actually taken from their houses in the middle of the night, even then they were tried and but for a few they were imprisoned and later released.

  21. Fair point Muscati,

    tho' I never said it was...

  22. Why does Oman ban books by people who have served here? More banned books to come. Like it or not, agree with it or not they should be read. I've even heard that Gonu was used as an excuse to get rid of some people! It happened, it happens, only Ostriches don't see it...allegedly!

  23. I heard that Gonu never happened. What are these banned books by the way. I like the "hot country for shady people" quote.

  24. Thomas, not on here but I will mail UD with them and you c an mail him.

  25. Yup! And it has happened before!

  26. All entertaining skuttlebutt the above may be chaps, but where is the data? Apart from the web erasure actions observable for all to see, its all just rumour.

    If its not a hoax, Was he arrested? (or is being arrested a secret?)
    IF he was arrested, Was he charged, or even tried? (or do we have no habeas corpus?)
    Was he deported?
    If so, why was he deported? (or do we just have ex-judiciary forced deportations)

    In either case, why has The Tribune erased him from their web database?

    They may have had this in the USA under the previous President, but at least they could talk about it. (and personally, I'd like to think we can all aim a little higher than GW.)

    Does the journalist have any comment? (I don't have an email for Arun). Does the Tribune?

    Is this not perhaps a story for The National? Or of course, local investigative bastion The Week??

  27. I think the ISS don't generally get involved in trivial media issues here. They usually have much serious work to maybe we should give the ISS the benefit of the doubt and believe that Arun was something more than what he made out to be....Don't know really, feedback anyone?


If you wish to post anonymously, please pick a nickname by selecting the Name/URL option, or at least sign off your comment with one! I will delete comments I find objectionable or needlessly inflammatory. Sorry for the word verification.... OMG the spam has gotten BAD these past 12 months... trying to avoid making one log in...