Dozens of web activists pardoned and released in Oman

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Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ruled Oman since 1970Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ruled Oman since 1970

The sultan of the Gulf country of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, has pardoned and released dozens of online activists.

Amnesty International, the human rights campaign group, called the Sultan's decision a "very welcome step".

The writers, bloggers and activists were arrested during a crackdown in Oman in late May and early June 2012.

At the time, the public prosecutor threatened legal action against the publication of "offensive writing" in the media or online.

Offensive writing included insulting the sultan and inciting others to action "under the pretext of freedom of expression".

"We are delighted that dozens of prisoners of conscience on whose cases we have been campaigning are back at liberty and able to rejoin their families and friends," said Philip Luther of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme.

At the same time, Mr Luther urged Oman to "lift restrictions on freedom of expression by repressive laws".

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