25-Year-Old American Jailed for Tweet Criticizing Zimbabwean Leader

Kristopher Drake
November 6, 2017

Zimbabwe police have charged a United States citizen with subversion for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe on Twitter as a "sick man", lawyers said Friday.

Martha O' Donovan appears at the Harare Magistrates court on November 4, 2017.

Ms O Donovan was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on her home in Harare and taken to Harare Central Police Station on Friday.

The American denied both charges of subversion and undermining the authority of Mugabe as "baseless and malicious".

The AP also reports that the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights say they have represented almost 200 charged for allegedly insulting the Zimbabwe president in recent years.

O'Donovan is accused of calling 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe a "sick man" in a Twitter post that included a photo illustration of the president with a catheter.

The move came under severe criticism from activists who said it was an attempt to gag social media users.


The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights - the group representing O'Donovan - said that O'Donovan's arrest was the first since the Zimbabwean president appointed a cybersecurity minister last month, according to the AP.

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

Martha O'Donovan works for Magamba TV, a local company that specialises in political satire. 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 titled "How Zimbabweans Rebel Online".

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

But I must admit, I do respect Martha O'Donovan's gangster.

Police claim that "tweets emanating from her IT address are insulting to the president", said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who are representing her.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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