American woman in Zimbabwe jailed after tweeting about country's President

American woman in Zimbabwe jailed after tweeting about country's President

"The reason behind her arrest was a tweet mocking Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe calling him a sick and selfish man". Reports said O'Donovan spent Friday night in a cell at the Harare Central Police Station and she faced the courts this Saturday. She could be facing up to 20 years in prison.

According to the AP, the NYU grad has been charged with subversion and insulting the president. Zimbabwe authorities have said that O'Donovan was the one who wrote them because they came from her IP address.

Martha O'Donovan appeared in court in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, charged with subversion as well as undermining or insulting 93-year-old Mugabe.

O'Donovan has denied the allegations as "baseless and malicious". We were contending that the arrest was not in compliance with the mandatory provisions of the constitution - in particular, that the police were obligated to inform our client for the reason of the arrest at the time they arrested her, something which they didn't do.

It was the first arrest since Mugabe last month appointed a cybersecurity minister, a move criticized by activists as targeting social media.

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Social media posts played a major role in fueling major anti-government protests in Zimbabwe past year.

Ms O'Donovan had been working with local social media outlet Magamba TV, which describes itself as producing "satirical comedy sensations".

Rights lawyers in Zimbabwe say this is the first arrest for a social media-related offence after President Mugabe created a Cyber Security Ministry in October. Frustration is growing in the once-prosperous southern African nation as the economy collapses and the president, in power since 1980, is already running for next year's elections. Earlier this year, she presented a talk at a re:publica digital culture conference on "How Zimbabweans Rebel Online".

The group representing Ms O'Donovan, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, says it has represented almost 200 people charged for allegedly insulting Mr Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, in recent years.

The ZRP officers claimed that Martha O'Donovan, who is represented by Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, posted a tweet on her profile during the recently held Shoko Festival, which referred to a certain Goblin, whose wife and stepsons imported a Rolls Royce vehicle.

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