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Omani activists end hunger strike

MUSCAT: Thirty jailed Omani activists have ended their two weeks-long hunger strike after the country’s Supreme Court began reviewing their appeals, a lawyer defending them told AFP yesterday.
“The detainees suspended their hunger strike after they learnt that the Supreme Court has decided to review their appeals,” Yakoob Al-Harithi said.
The hunger strike was first launched by 17 cyber activists on Feb. 9 as a protest at delays in hearing their appeals after they were jailed for between six to 18 months for “unlawful assembly and violating the cyber law.” They were later joined by 13 other prisoners protesting at their conditions of detention, activists say.
Harithi said that as part of its review the Supreme Court upheld the one year jail term handed down to five of the 30 activists in December.
The five were convicted of insulting Sultan Qaboos and committing cyber crimes, Harithi said, adding that the court will hear the remaining appeals over the next three weeks.
Several groups of activists are on trial on charges of defaming or using online social media networks to insult Sultan Qaboos.
The appeals court has upheld the jail terms of many already sentenced.
Others have been tried after taking part in protests demanding political reforms that shook the usually calm Oman in 2011.
Riot police used force to disperse the demonstrations, but Sultan Qaboos responded to the unrest by reshuffling the cabinet and increasing the powers of the consultative assembly.

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