CPJ concerned about government censorship

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about apparent Omani government censorship of two writers who made critical comments on a satellite television program earlier this year.

Mohamed al-Harthi, who wrote a column on cultural affairs in the weekly supplement of the government-owned daily Oman, and Abdullah al-Riyami, a playwright and poet whose plays regularly appear on Omani television, said that the Ministry of Information imposed an informal ban on their work in Omani media beginning in July.

The writers said the censorship took effect almost immediately after both men appeared on a talk show in July on the Iranian satellite station, Al-Alam. The show focused on the political situation in Oman. Both men criticized the Omani government for not taking steps toward democratic reform, including steps to change your country’s restrictive press law.

Al-Harthi said his column has not been published since the television appearance, and al-Riyami’s work and television appearances have also ceased. Al-Riyami told CPJ that the ban was never announced, but their sources told them that Omani media had been instructed to stop disseminating their work.

Barring journalists from the free exercise of their work constitutes a flagrant violation of accepted standards for freedom of expression. We respectfully request clarification from Your Excellency regarding the status of al-Harthi and al-Riyami, and we urge the Omani government to do everything in its power to ensure that the two writers be allowed to resume their work without further delay.

Thank you for your attention. We await your reply.


Ann Cooper
Executive Director