American jailed in Zimbabwe after allegedly tweeting about president

A US citizen has been arrested for a tweet just weeks after Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe appointed a cyber security minister charged with policing social media. By Jekesai NJIKIZANA

The arrest of O'Donovan and the seizure of her laptop in a dawn raid at her apartment on Friday, came just weeks after the government appointed a cyber security minister tasked with policing social media.

Zimbabwe police have detained U.S. citizen Martha O'Donovan for allegedly referring to President Robert Mugabe as a "goblin" on Twitter.

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.

The US citizen is accused of calling the 93-year-old president a "sick man" in a tweet that included a photo illustration of Mr Mugabe with a catheter.

Her lawyer, Rose Hanzi, has argued that the charge is illegal because the police did not inform O'Donovan of it when she was taken Friday morning from her home in the capital, Harare.




The group representing O'Donovan, 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. The court disagreed, and O'Donovan will remain in custody over the weekend. The subversion charges carry up to 20 years in prison.

The 25-year-old Martha O'Donovan denies the charges as "baseless and malicious". Zimbabwe authorities say they believe O'Donovan is the author of the tweet based on her IP address.O'Donovan, who is white, has denied this, and matigary has continued to tweet since O'Donovan was jailed.

Martha O' Donovan, who works with Magamba TV, a satirical youth social media site, has been accused of re tweeting a message which insinuated that Mr Mugabe was a "goblin", one of the worst possible insults in the Shona language.

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

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.

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