Oman ruler pardons jailed dissidents | Human Rights and the Will to be free |

Sultan Qaboos, Oman's ruler, has pardoned all dissidents jailed for defaming the leader or taking part in protests, state news agency ONA has said.

The agency did not say how many prisoners were expected to be freed, but activists say courts had sentenced at least 50 dissidents to jail terms of up to 18 months last year.

"His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has issued a royal pardon for those convicted of defamation, information technology crimes and unauthorised rallies," the agency said.

Amnesty International, the international human rights group, welcomed the move.

"However, individuals peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression should never have been put in prison in the first place, nor tried on charges that criminalise freedom of expression," it said in a statement received by the Reuters news agency....