Rights group: Drop cases against Oman activists

An international human rights group is appealing to Oman to halt the prosecution of 10 people, including prominent bloggers, convicted of insulting the nation's ruler.

The cases are part of wider crackdowns against protesters and online activists in the Arabian peninsula country, which has seen growing calls for more political openness after unrest last year inspired by the Arab Spring.

Saturday's statement by Human Rights Watch urges Oman to clear the defendants, who faced trials earlier this month. Their convictions are being appealed.

Authorities claim the web posts violated laws against "defaming" ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Activists say they only seek a greater voice in the affairs in the Western-allied nation.