Harare, Zimbabwe(News of the South)-AMERICAN citizen, Martha O’Donovan, has been released on $1 000 bail after languishing in remand prison since last week following her arrest over a tweet deemed to have demeaned and undermined the authority of President Robert Mugabe.
She faces charges of insulting President Robert Mugabe and attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government. The charge carries a 20-year jail term if convicted.
High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri yesterday released her on bail and ordered her to report to police twice a week, surrender her travel documents and not to interfere with State witnesses.
It is the State’s allegations that O’Donovan systematically sought to incite political unrest through the expansion and use of sophisticated network on social media platform as well as running accounts namely Magamba Network Trust, @matigari and @openparlyzw.
The American woman is also being accused of tweeting a post using username @matigari, which read: “We are being led by a selfish and sick man.”
It is alleged the message was accompanied by a photo illustration showing that Mugabe is surviving on a catheter. But in its arguments the ZLHR said the seriousness of the offence alone could not be a sufficient reason to induce O’Donovan to flee, “especially when one has regard to the apparent weaknesses of the State case”.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International Zimbabwe (AI) has urged the State to drop the charges against O’Donovan, describing her arrest as “authorities’ utter contempt for freedom of expression”.-Newsday
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