Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oman's Internet Forum Moderator Trial: Ali Zuwaidi's verdict

Breaking News readers ( and apologies for the lack of posts - very busy) - The ruling in Ali Zuwaidi's internet case was finished this morning.

1) He was found NOT GUILTY on the first charge, made under the infamous and poorly defined Article 61. This charge was raised following a formal complaint made by OmanTel's ex-CEO Dr Wahaibi. The case was related to Ali's involvement as a moderator for a forum in which a post was made (by a still unidentified 3rd party) that criticised Dr Wahaibi's work.

2) He was found GUILTY on the second charge, made under more general professional secrecy laws that are within the standard criminal code, for leaking the confidential Council of Ministers document that related to a radio program called "haza al sabah" (This Morning) (a show that had been used as a forum for members of the public to criticise Government performance live on air until the Ministers allegedly decided to can it). He was sentenced to 10 days in prison and ordered to pay a 200 rials fine, but was released as his time served following his arrest and being held on remand was already 11 days.

It will be interesting to see how the trial result plays out in the regional and international Media, especially after the recent criticisms of the new UAE Media Law made by the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the somewhat defensive response to that criticism by Dubai Authorities.

Hopefully The Ministry of Information is a little more prepared for questions and able to expalin how his being found guilty is not directly related to Article 61, although some commentators have linked the two charges and implied that he was being arrested, charged and tried 'pour encourage les autres'.


  1. There is an article in Reuters at http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSTRE53K2P120090421 pretty straight forward, but mentions no reporting by local media. Abd

  2. The Reuters article has lots of errors. Gulf News' reporting is better, though they also have some facts wrong.

  3. Muscati: your brief post states the crux of the matter- no correct information. No information in local papers, some mistakes in regional (Arabic) papers, and a bunch of mistakes in international (western)papers. Our information machine is fueled by rumors, everyone has their own version of the 'truth'. Abd

  4. Arabic newspapers have reported the correct details of the case:

  5. Omani newspapers? It is after all Omani news!

  6. Blue Chi- Did the newspapers 'report the correct details' or 'report the details correctly'? There is a difference. Abd

  7. Words fail to describe how dissapointed I am with the government, and the MOI in particular, with this case. I really thought we were different from Saudi, Egypt and China. I fear this is the thin end of the wedge.

    Dragon, Excellent picture. good post.

    Devils Advocate,

    what's with all the hate? I'm pretty sure, that like me, you can't read arabic quickly without the help of google translate, and phone a friend lifeline. Doubt you read the article.

    ** نكح حتى تذهب نفسك ، والموقف الخاص بك حزين

    I'm sorry that you did not receive the PDO contract, I'm sorry the driving is so appaling, I'm sorry that 90% of the lisenced drivers in this country also cause 90% of the accidents, and that you, apparently, can't do the math. Move on.

    **grammatically correct when run through google translate.

  8. Thin edge of the wedge?
    I don't think so. After all, we 'are' talking about Oman here right. Its not as if this was some landmark human rights case where the rights of 'journalists' was on the line. It was more of a strict scolding from Big Brother on the little one getting out of line. "Didn't delete the post? Make that a option next time. Leaked the memo? Bad Boy! 2 spanks on the butt"

    While I'm not downplaying the importance all this holds, but you really can't hinge rights, principles & laws on majorly (kinda) impromptu trials, sporadic trial sessions and vague ambiguous laws that are open to interpretation both ways. Obviously Big Brother is going to get the final say.

    Of course, it would have been landmark & groundbreaking if we knew that no matter what Big Brother's preferences, if the verdict based on facts was pointing against BB, it would be announced and the case decided as such.

    (more...=)-TFK(/blatant advertising:p)

  9. Hey,

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    You might want to put it in your links page, it may help your readers as well.


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