Zimbabwe: Court Orders American Held on Charges of Undermining Mugabe, Subversion

06 November, 2017, 01:42 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Zim authorities make first cyber security arrest

An American woman charged with subversion in Zimbabwe for allegedly insulting the country's president will remain in police custody this weekend, Fox News reported Saturday.

O'Donovan's representative, Obey Shava of the group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said, "We will be approaching the High Court on Monday for bail application".

Martha O'Donovan was arrested in her apartment in Harare - Zimbabwe's Capital city - at around 5 a.m Friday. She could face 20 years in prison because of that.

According to the AP, the NYU grad has been charged with subversion and insulting the president.

The ZRP officers, who arrested O'Donovan, were armed with a search warrant, which was granted on Thursday 02 November 2017 by Harare Magistrate Elisha Singano authorising the law enforcement agents to confiscate all her electronic devices as they reportedly investigated a case of undermining authority of or insulting President as defined in Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

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The New Jersey native gave a statement to police calling the allegations "baseless and malicious".

Mugabe last month appointed a minister for cybersecurity, a move criticized by activists as aimed at clamping down on social media users. 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.

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

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. Earlier this year, she presented a talk at a re:publica digital culture conference on "How Zimbabweans Rebel Online".

Amnesty International said that the Zimbabwean government tracked down O'Donovan's IP address from her tweet, though the Twitter account which posted the initial insult is still active since she has been detained.

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