Six weeks ago, July 19th to be exact, someone with the nickname "boozallen" posted a topic titled Omantel on OmanForum. The post detailed the management restructuring that had occured in Omantel under the recommendations of their consultants, Booz Allen. The writer claimed that the promotions and appointments were not based on merit, but on the internal politics of the organization. If this was the topics only point, it would still be there on OmanForum for you to read. However, the writer went on to attack Omantel's top management in detail with allegations of nepotism, using their positions for personal gain, accumulating properties and wealth, and so on.
Without knowing the details of Oman's laws, I knew that keeping the topic on the forum would probably expose me personally, as OmanForum's administrator, to responsibility for publishing the article since similar to the case of Ali Al Rasdhi a few years ago, people who were attacked on the Sabla complained to the Public Prosecutor and the PA held the site's owner responsible. I took a quick decision and deleted the article in full. By the morning of the 20th of July, the article had been copied on other forums, most importantly Sablat Oman (www.omania2.net).
Last night I read on the Sabla that the public prosecutor's office had called in Ali Al Zuwaidi (known online as Bin Daris), the moderator of the Sabla's politics and economy forum, for investigation charging him with responsibility under Article 61 of the Telecommunication law (قانون الاتصالات) which makes website owners as well as moderators and administrators of forums responsible for the content published by their users. It's not clear if he's being charged or if it is really for this particular topic, although everyone assumes that it is. I would assume that if it is for the Omantel topic, then it would be because of a complaint by the company or it's CEO to the Public Prosecutor alleging slander or defamation. I am not a legal expert, I hope Blue-Chi can tell us more about the law, and whether the Public Prosecutor can begin such an investigation without the person being defamed's own complaint.
Regardless of the technicalities, I have dodged a bullet. I think I was right to delete the topic. If the article was entirely about facts, I would have allowed it. Instead, it was full of direct attacks on individuals accusing them of gross misconduct without giving any facts to support the allegations. If I had kept the topic, would I have been under investigation as well? I'm not sure. I believe that English forums and blogs aren't given importance and don't come under scrutiny like those which are in Arabic. Having said that, I wouldn't want to be the test case.
We need to know more about the law. That's for sure.