Oman criticizes newspaper after editor-in-chief detained

Oman's government has criticized a newspaper for publishing a story alleging improper interference in a court case, its first official comment since authorities detained the paper's editor-in-chief.

Rights groups have called for Oman to release Ibrahim al-Maamari of the daily Arabic newspaper Azamn, who is held over the story.

Oman issued the statement via its state-run news agency late Tuesday night. The statement says the judiciary "should be an object of respect and gratification rather than a target of deliberate accusations meant to shake confidence."

The statement went on to say the sultanate's government "has taken legal action against the perpetrators ... but without excess or exaggeration." It did not elaborate.

The U.S.-based watchdog Freedom House considers Oman, ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, as "not free."