Zimbabwe police have charged a U.S. citizen for insulting president Robert Mugabe in a tweet sent out last month.
Martha O‘Donovan, 25, according to her statement to the police had been charged with “undermining authority of or insulting president as defined in section 33 (2) (b) of the criminal law (Codification and reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.”
She denied the allegations which she called “baseless and malicious” in her caution statement. If convicted, O‘Donovan faces a maximum of one year in jail making her the first casualty since the creation of a Ministry of Cyber Security last month, her lawyers said.
Local news portals report that she was arrested and her laptop seized on Friday over the insulting tweet that read; “We are being led by a selfish and sick man.” The tweet of October 11, 2017 was accompanied by Mugabe ‘surviving’ on a Catheter.
She works for Magamba TV, which describes itself as Zimbabwe’s leading producer of political satire.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said in a statement that the police who picked her up from her residence in the capital Harare were armed with a search warrant linked to an investigation of a case of “undermining authority of or insulting the President”, it added.
Reuters reported that O‘Donovan’s Twitter account was locked on Friday but a photograph on her home page referred to #ShutdownZimbabwe2016, a series of protests last year that rattled Mugabe’s government and elicited a fierce crackdown on the streets and online.
Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said she had no immediate information about the case. The U.S. embassy in Harare confirmed that an American citizen had been arrested and said it was monitoring the situation closely.