Washington, D.C. – Freedom Now is pleased to announce the release of human rights activist and blogger Saed Jadad after 9 months in prison. Mr. Jadad was serving a one year prison sentence for writing a letter to President Barack Obama and publishing blog posts critical of the Omani government.
“Saed Jadad spent nearly a year wrongfully imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” said Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner. “We are grateful for his early release, but the Omani government must respect the rights of its citizens. It can begin by ceasing its harassment of Mr. Jadad and other human rights activists.”
Prior to his imprisonment, Mr. Jadad documented human rights violations in Oman and scrutinized the government’s human rights record in both social and print media. As a result, he was banned from publishing in Omani newspapers. In 2011, he organized several protests in Dhofar, a southern region of the country. The protests called for government reform and urged Sultan Qaboos to expand the Omani consultative assembly.
On January 19, 2015, a summons was issued for Mr. Jadad to appear in court. The summons was related to an open letter he had written in 2013 to President Obama regarding human rights in Oman and a blog post he wrote in which he compared the 2014 protests in Hong Kong to the 2011 protests in Dhofar. Mr. Jadad disputed the legality of the summons, referring to it as an attempt to end his human rights work, and publicly declared he would boycott it. He was arrested without a warrant later that day at his home by security forces and kept incommunicado until his trial began on January 27.
On March 8, 2015, Mr. Jadad was convicted by the Muscat Court of First Instance to a three year prison sentence on charges of “undermining the prestige of the state,” “incitement to protest,” and “using social media to disseminate information that infringed on the sanctity of public order.” Shortly after his conviction in the Muscat Court, Mr. Jadad was transferred to the Salalah Court of First Instance to face an additional charge of “using social media to disseminate information that infringed on the sanctity of public order.” He was convicted on March 31, 2015 and sentenced to an additional year in prison.
Mr. Jadad was released on bail on April 7, 2015 while both cases were pending appeal. In September 2015, the Muscat Court of Appeals upheld the conviction given by the Muscat Court of First Instance, but suspended Mr. Jadad’s three-year prison sentence for three years. However, Mr. Jadad was arrested again in November 2015 when the Salalah Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling.
During his imprisonment, Mr. Jadad suffered severe heart pain and fatigue, brought on by a heart condition. His health severely deteriorated as a result of authorities refusing proper medical treatment. Freedom Now calls on the Omani government to ensure Mr. Jadad receives medical care after his release.