U.S. citizen facing subversion charges in Zimbabwe released from jail

U.S. citizen Martha O'Donovan is led into a remand truck outside court in Harare
U.S. citizen Martha O'Donovan is led into a remand truck outside court in Harare, Zimbabwe November 4, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

November 10, 2017

HARARE (Reuters) – A U.S. citizen accused of attempting to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s government was released from Zimbabwe’s maximum security jail on Friday, a day after the High Court ordered her to be freed on bail, Reuters witnesses said.

Judge Clement Phiri ruled on Thursday that there was a “patent absence of facts” in the state’s case against 25-year-old Martha O’Donovan, whose arrest last week centered on accusations she insulted 93-year-old Mugabe in a Twitter post.

She denies the accusation.

Reuters witnesses saw O’Donovan leaving prison in a United States embassy vehicle. O’Donovan and her lawyers did not speak to reporters waiting outside Chikurubi Maximum Prison on the outskirts of Harare.

State prosecutors accuse O’Donovan of writing a Twitter post in October calling Mugabe a “selfish and sick man”.

The government has since last year been targeting activists and government critics who use social media to speak out against Mugabe, cash shortages in banks and a foreign currency crunch that has caused a sharp rise in prices.

Amnesty International said it feared O’Donovan would not be the last to be arrested in the government’s “clamp down on social media platforms”.

Activist pastor Evan Mawarire, whose #ThisFlag movement last year organized the biggest stay-at-home demonstration in a decade, is on trial on a charge of subversion. He faces a separate trial for a similar offence.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Ralph Boulton)

  • Melissa McShane

    Every American should remember this. Look what happens when the state rules over you. Here we are desiring to allow the government to control the scope of our individual rights.