Zimbabwe police charge United States woman over 'anti-Mugabe tweet'

Zimbabwe police charge United States woman over 'anti-Mugabe tweet'

Zimbabwean police have detained a U.S. citizen for "insulting" President Robert Mugabe in a tweet she shared, her lawyers say, in the first apparent arrest since the creation of the Ministry of Cyber Security.

Martha O'Donovan, who works for Magamba TV, which describes itself as Zimbabwe's leading producer of political satire, was picked up in a dawn raid on her Harare home, her lawyer said.

In a statement to police, O'Donovan denied the allegations against her as "baseless and malicious".

She is represented by lawyer Obey Shava from the Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights.

The police were armed with a search warrant linked to an investigation of a case of "undermining authority of or insulting the President", it added.

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The US embassy in Harare on Friday confirmed Ms O'Donovan's arrest but said she had not yet been charged.

She faces charges of insulting the president and plotting to overthrow the government, her lawyer told United States media.

She later said O'Donovan now faces additional charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government. The offense carries up to 20 years in prison. "It is nearly equal to treason", Coltart said.

"This is what we expected all along that it was not really about the retweet".

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It was the first arrest since the Ministry of Cyber Security was established last month.

The US embassy in Zimbabwe did not immediately return a request for comment. Zimbabwe was shaken past year by the biggest anti-government protests in a decade.

The organisation said on Twitter earlier today that this was the first arrest the Zimbabwean government had made since establishing it's Cyber Security ministry in October in the run up to the country's Computer and Cyber Crimes Bill being finalised.

Critics say the new ministry is a government effort to crack down on social media users.

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