Oman ministry renews ban on Al Zaman newspaper


Oman ministry renews ban on newspaper

The new ban comes a day after a court declared the earlier ban invalid based on a technicality

Published: 17:22 September 8, 2016Gulf News

Fahad Al Mukrashi, Correspondent

Muscat: The Ministry of Information issued another decision to ban the publication and circulation of a newspaper on Wednesday, a day after a court deemed its earlier ban to be void.

On Wednesday, the Administrative Judicial Court in Muscat lifted the ban on Al Zaman, an Arabic daily, saying the decision was invalid.

On August 9, the Ministry of Information issued an order to halt the publication and the circulation of the newspaper after it published reports in July about alleged corruption within the country’s judicial system.

Yaqoob Al Harthi, the defence lawyer, told Gulf News on Thursday that the reason the ban was declared void was because the Ministry of Information did not put a specific timeframe for the ban. “So the Ministry of Information issued a new decision with a one-month ban that can be extended,” said Al Harthi.

Al Harthi added that the date for the next hearing has not been announced yet.

The ministry insisted before the court that the ban should remain until a verdict is issued against three Al Zaman journalists facing trial for the article.

The three journalists — Ebrahim Al Mamari, editor-in-chief, Yousuf Al Haj, editor, and Zahir Al Abri, reporter — are charged with violating the country’s publications law.

On Monday, the Muscat Primary Court judge, Saeed Al Busaidi, halted the hearing involving the editor of the newspaper and postponed it to September 17.

The decision came after Al Haj petitioned for a change of judge in the case.

Al Haj was involved in a heated verbal spat with the judge during the first hearing last month.

The court has put off until September 19 verdicts against Al Mamari and Al Abri.

Last month, the ministry of information ordered Al Zaman to close its offices after it published two reports accusing top officials in the government of pressuring the judiciary to change a ruling in an inheritance case.

The government later said in a statement run by ONA, the state-run news agency, that the newspaper had violated articles protecting freedom of expression by running the report.

The government vowed legal action against the journalists but said freedom of expression “remains an authentic value that cannot be evaded and that freedom of expression should become a responsible action that is not motivated by any personal impulses”.

The daily published a story on July 27 titled ‘Supreme bodies tie the hands of justice,’ accusing government officials of pressuring top judges in the Supreme Court to overturn a decision in an inheritance case.

Al Haj interviewed the vice-president of the Supreme Court, who, according to the story, said that the judiciary was in a “pitiful state” and had witnessed many violations.

Association of North American Ethnic Journalist and writers condemn Al zaman News paper ban

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