MUSCAT (Reuters) - An Omani court sentenced a blogger to one year in jail for slander over writings against the government, state news agency ONA said on Sunday, extending a crackdown on dissent in the Gulf Arab state.
The verdict against Moukhtar ben Mohammed al-Hanaei, who works at al-Zaman newspaper, is a further move by Oman to deter unrest inspired by Arab Spring revolts that have swept the region since last year.
Protests this year in Oman, which fronts the Gulf sea lane through which much of the world's oil trade is shipped, have highlighted difficulties in implementing a strategy of defusing discontent by creating tens of thousands of public sector jobs.
Hanaei was also accused of "violating information technology regulations" and was fined 1,000 rial ($2,600), ONA said. His case is part of what the court called "abusive and provocative writings cases."
Ruling in the cases of other defendants was postponed until October 14, the agency added.
Around 12 Omanis were sentenced to up to a year in jail last month for illegal gathering and more than 20 people were handed similar prison terms over Internet posts deemed as "incitement" against the government and comments directed against Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos.
The comments against Sultan Qaboos - in power for 42 years and now the longest-ruling Arab head of state - were made during protests in late May that grew out of strikes in the oil sector, which accounts for most state revenue.
Oman's public prosecutor pledged to prosecute such statements under its information technology law, which formed the basis of the latest rulings as well as the earlier verdicts.
(Reporting by Saleh Al-Shaibany; Writing by Rania El Gamal)
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