Oman: Internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli arrested and writer Saud Al-Zadjali targeted online
On 23 July 2021, Internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli was arrested after security forces raided his home in Sohar. Reliable local reports confirmed that he is still being held by the North Al-Batinah Governorate Police Command in Sohar, which is the regional centre of the governorate.
Al-Shibli has a Twitter account with more than 7,000 followers, which he uses to peacefully express his views. He also uses the hashtag (#Ghaith_spaces) to organise dialogues on various topics that gained wide popularity in Oman, and which likely led to his arrest. The authorities have not announced the nature of the charges against him, but it is widely believed that they are related to his opinions and those of the participants in his conversations online.
Upon his arrest, a hashtag was launched in Oman on Twitter calling for his release, and a large number of citizens, including bloggers, circulated the call: #Freedom_Ghaith_Shibli
Another hashtag was launched on Twitter calling for the writer Dr. Saud Al-Zadjali to be prosecuted because of his personal opinions published on his Twitter account, where he is followed by more than 25,000 people. On 25 July 2021, he announced in a tweet that he would take legal measures against anyone who distorts his views or threatens him because of them.
Both the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) denounce the arrest of Internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli, which violates his right to freedom of expression, and call for his immediate release. GCHR and OAHR also call for an end to the targeting of writer Saud Al-Zadjali in violation of his right to freedom of expression.
The Omani government should work to respect public freedoms, in particular freedom of expression, both online and offline.