INTERNET websites in Oman are urging the government to loosen its control of the media and allow crime and corruption to be covered in the press.
Last month, a leaked government document posted on Sabla Oman suggested the ministry of higher education was granting free government scholarships to the children of some officials “despite not qualifying for them on their own merits”, The National, a newspaper based in Dubai, reported.
Riyadh al Balushi, a Muscat-based blogger, told the newspaper there were several websites that published leaked documents to shame officials. The documents were obtained by insiders working within the civil service and then handed over to the bloggers.
But media experts say there is always a threat that the government will prosecute the authors for their statements, even if they are posted anonymously.
“They track you down the way they did with Ali al Zuwaidi or try with the Omantel whistle-blower,” Mohammed al Ajmi, a former journalist, said.
Internet sites Sabia Oman (www.omania2.net) and Omanforum (www.omanforum.com) are inviting debate, but other editors say they rarely publish a piece that criticises a cabinet minister or public grievance towards a government office.