US citizen arrested in Zimbabwe for slamming country’s president on Twitter


A U.S. citizen was arrested in Zimbabwe on Friday, accused of insulting President Robert Mugabe on Twitter.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy told The Associated Press that Martha O’Donovan, who works for Magamba TV, a local news network aimed at youth, was arrested on Friday by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) after posting tweets that allegedly insulted Zimbabwe’s president.

The woman’s electronic devices and laptop were reportedly confiscated in a dawn raid at her home in Harare.

O’Donovan, whose Twitter account is private, is being represented by lawyer Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Shava said that O’Donovan has not been charged, but police claim that “tweets emanating from her [IP] address are insulting to the president.”

The ZRP officers who arrested O’Donovan arrived with a search warrant, which was granted on Thursday by Harare Magistrate Elisha Singano. Law enforcement agents are reportedly investigating a case of undermining authority or of insulting the president as defined in Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The ZRP officers claim O’Donovan posted a tweet on her profile during the recently held Shoko Festival that “referred to a certain Goblin, whose wife and stepsons imported a Rolls Royce vehicle.” However, the reported offensive and insulting tweet does not make any mention of the president’s name.

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