By Own Correspondent.
Harare, Zimbabwe. (News Of The South) – An international human rights watchdog has implored the ZANU PF-led government to drop charges against Martha O’Donovan.
Martha who is a an American citizen works for Magamba TV (an online satirical channel )and was arrested last week after being accused of insulting President Robert Mugabe through a tweet.
She was granted $1 000 bail yesterday by the High Court as she now faces a 20-year jail term for trying to subvert a constitutionally elected government through unconstitutional means.
In response to a Zimbabwean court’s decision to grant bail to Martha O’Donovan, Amnesty International Zimbabwe Executive Director Cousin Zilala said:
“Martha O’Donovan should not have spent a single night in jail – expressing an opinion in a tweet is not a crime. Her arrest was the latest example of the Zimbabwean’s authorities’ utter contempt for freedom of expression,”he said.
Zilala added that while the organisation applaud the government for granting her bail they want the state to subsequently drop the charges.
“While we welcome the decision to release her, the absurd charges against Martha O’Donovan clearly don’t stand up to scrutiny and must be dropped. We fear she will not be the last to be swept up in the clampdown on social media platforms,”urged the Amnesty International Zimbabwe Executive Director.
He went on to urge the Zimbabwean authorities to stop punishing people simply for exercising their freedom of expression.
Martha O’Donovan was arrested last week on Friday by the police after she was accused of “insulting” President Robert Mugabe when tweets from the @matigary Twitter account were linked to her IP address. In the tweets she called the 93-year-old a “selfish and sick man”.
Her arrest becomes the first since the creation of the ministry of cyber security, mitigation and threat detection and fears are abound that social media users might face a clampdown by state security agents.
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