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US Citizen Arrested Over Tweet ‘Insulting’ Mugabe

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Zimbabwean police have arrested a US citizen for allegedly “insulting” President Roberts Mogabe in a tweet she shared, her lawyers say, in the first apparent arrest since the country’s creation of the Ministry of Cyber Security.

Martha O’Donovan, who works for Magamba TV, was arrested on Friday during a dawn raid on her home in Harare, the television station said in a statement.

She had re-tweeted a post which apparently referred to Mugabe as a “selfish man and sick man”, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), which is representing O’Donovan, said in a tweet on Friday.

Zimbabwe Republic Police “says Martha O’Donovan insulted Mugabe when she allegedly tweeted that ‘We are being led by a selfish man and sick man'”, ZLHR tweeted. The post shared by O’Donovan did not refer to Mugabe by name.

ZLHR also said on Twitter that O’Donovan is being charged with “undermining [the] authority of or insulting [the] president”.

Doug Coltart, a human rights lawyer in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, said that if convicted, O’Donovan could face more than 20 years in prison.

“O’Donovan is charged with insulting the president, which is punishable with a sentence of a year,” he told Al Jazeera.

“More significantly, she is charged with subverting a constitutional government, which carries a hefty sentence of 20 years in prison. It is almost equal to treason,” Coltart said.

“This is directly related to her role with Magamba TV, and a subsidiary of Magamba called Open Parly, which talks all about the work of parliament.

Source: Al Jazeera

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