Zimbabwe police charge U.S. citizen with anti-government plot
A U.S. citizen was charged on Friday with attempting to overthrow the Zimbabwean government, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail, after police earlier accused her of insulting 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, APA reports quoting Reuters.
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.
O‘Donovan, who denies both charges, was expected in court on Saturday, lawyer Obey Shava said.
Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment on the new, much more serious, charge.
O‘Donovan was first charged with insulting and undermining the president, according to a police charge sheet, which accused her of last month calling Mugabe a “selfish and sick man” on Twitter, the first such arrest since the creation of a Ministry of Cyber Security last month.
That charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail, her lawyer said.
Shava said police then accused O‘Donovan of setting up Magamba, being behind a “shadowy Twitter character” called @matigary and setting up another Twitter account @OpenParlyZw “for the sole purpose of overthrowing the government through unconstitutional means”.
The government has been particularly uneasy about social media after activists such as pastor Evan Mawararire and his #ThisFlag movement last year used social media to organize a stay-at-home demonstration, the biggest anti-government protest in a decade. A national election is due in 2018.
The police search warrant showed that central to its investigation was a post on O‘Donovan’s Twitter feed referring to a “Goblin” whose wife and step-sons had imported a Rolls-Royce, an apparent reference to Mugabe, though he was not named.
In a statement to police seen by Reuters, O‘Donovan said:
“I deny the allegations being leveled against me as baseless and malicious. That is all I wish to say.”
The U.S. embassy in Harare confirmed an American citizen had been arrested and said it was monitoring the situation closely.
Shava said his client had refused to sign a new document known as a “warned and cautioned statement” with the fresh charge. The document sets out the government’s case and signing it signals a suspect understands the charge.
She had signed the statement on the lesser charge.
Police seized her computers, cellphones and other electronic devices in the raid on her home.
Related news releases
- 18.11.2017Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party calls for Mugabe resignation
- 17.11.2017'There's no going back,' Zimbabwe's party tells Mugabe
- 17.11.2017Deposed Zimbabwe vice president to form transitional government
- 17.11.2017Three militant killed, 74 arrested in Egypt’s raids in Sinai
- 16.11.2017Zimbabwe state-run media releases photos of Mugabe meeting with army commander
- 16.11.2017Kenya to Allow Non-Military Use of Drones
- 16.11.2017Libyan forces hit Islamic State camp with air strike: commander
- 16.11.2017Suicide bombers kill 14 in northeast Nigeria
- 15.11.2017Zimbabwe: military takes control of state broadcaster in capital Harare, urges calm
- 14.11.2017EU migrant deal with Libya is 'inhuman' - UN
- 12.11.2017US drone strike in Somalia against al-Shabab kills several
- 11.11.2017Airstrikes kill 10 militants in Egypt’s Sinai
- 11.11.2017Tunisia's President prolongs state of emergency in country for 3 months
- 09.11.2017Tanzania: 5 pupils dead, 43 injured in grenade blast
- 08.11.2017South Sudanese government extends unilateral cease-fire
- 07.11.2017DR Congo: Cholera killed over 700 in last 3 months
- 27.10.2017Blast kills 3 UN peacekeepers in Mali
- 26.10.2017Suspected Boko Haram militants kill eight soldiers, one civilian in Nigeria's northeast: police
- 25.10.2017Road accident claims 11 lives in Nigeria
- 24.10.2017UN envoy arrives in Libya capital for unannounced visit
- 21.10.2017Morocco condemns Algerian foreign minister's remarks, recalls envoy - UPDATED
- 21.10.2017Helicopter plunges into lake after hotel takeoff in Kenya
- 21.10.2017Sixteen dead following four-vehicle collision in Egypt
- 21.10.2017At least two dead in bombing on Mogadishu outskirts
- 21.10.2017Somalia: Death toll from truck attack rises to 358
- 21.10.2017Shootout in Egypt kills at least 54 police officers - UPDATED-1
- 20.10.2017US unfreezes Sudanese bank accounts
- 19.10.2017Nigeria deploys jets to end herdsmen-farmers feud
- 19.10.2017Ebola-Like Marburg virus kills two people in Uganda
- 19.10.2017Four killed in Togo as protesters clash with security forces
- 18.10.2017Amnesty urges Zambia to act against human rights abuses
- 17.10.201729 feared killed in central Nigeria attack
- 14.10.2017Car bombs kill at least 40 in Somalia's capital Mogadishu
- 14.10.2017'3 shot dead' during Kenya's anti-government protests
- 13.10.2017Six soldiers killed in North Sinai attack: Egypt army
- 13.10.2017Somalian defense minister, army chief resign
- 11.10.2017Death toll from storm in South Africa reaches 8
- 11.10.2017Egypt sentences 13 to death for alleged 2014 violence
- 11.10.20171 killed 19 passengers rescued in Nigeria boat mishap
- 10.10.2017Nigeria: 10 killed in suspected gang shootings
- 04.11.2017U.S. carries out first strikes against Islamic State in Somalia
- 06.11.2017Senegal: Road accident claims 25 Muslim pilgrims
- 07.11.2017President declares state of emergency in central Sudan
- 02.11.2017Seven bodies found in migrant boat off Libya
- 01.11.2017Six dead after ambush on Malian High Court's president
- 29.10.2017Bombs kill at least 17 people in Somali capital Mogadishu - UPDATED