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Omani blogger who wrote letter to Obama given 3-year sentence

Said Jadad, a high-profile human rights activist, called on US president to 'support the principle of democracy' in the Gulf sultanate
Said Jadad feared he could be jailed for up to 15 years over charges of 'undermining the state' (Twitter/@al-tagreer)

An Omani blogger and human rights activist has been sentenced to three years in prison for a raft of charges including “undermining the state”.

The charges levelled against 56-year-old Said Jadad, an active participant in Oman’s 2011 anti-government protests, were connected to an open letter he sent to US President Barack Obama, according to a local newspaper.

Jadad was found guilty on Sunday of “undermining the prestige of the state,” publishing materials that disturb public order on the Internet and inciting Omani citizens to join an illegal gathering.

He also received fines totalling $4,470.

Jadad was sentenced after sending an open letter to Barack Obama in which he expressed “dismay” at the state of human rights in the Gulf, according to local news site Mowatin.

His lawyer, Yaboub al-Harthi, said that over 40 of Jadad’s Facebook posts had been presented as evidence in court, as well as an open letter he sent to Barack Obama in 2013.

"We expect the United States, being a superpower, to always stand by the people and to support the principles of democracy and human rights," he wrote.

Oman enjoys strong bilateral relations with the US, which has significant use of Omani military facilities, despite concerns over the Gulf sultanate's human rights record.

Jadad’s Facebook page has since been taken down.

The site also reported that Jadad had paid his bail fees of over $5,000, but had not been released because of a further court hearing scheduled for 17 March, in which he will face charges that he “misused information technology systems”.

Jadad has been detained on multiple occasions because of his activism, and in October 2014 was subject to a travel ban after attempting to fly to Turkey for a human rights conference.

The activist’s most recent arrest was in January 2015, when security services raided his house, reportedly without an arrest warrant.

At the time Jadad released a statement warning that he could be jailed for up to 15 years.

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