HARARE (Reuters) – A U.S. citizen was charged on Friday with trying to overthrow the Zimbabwean authorities, which carries a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail, after police earlier accused her of insulting 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
Martha O‘Donovan, who works for Magamba TV, which describes itself as Zimbabwe’s main producer of political satire, was picked up in a daybreak raid on her Harare dwelling, her lawyer stated.
O‘Donovan, who denies each expenses, was anticipated in court docket on Saturday, lawyer Obey Shava stated.
Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba couldn’t be reached for touch upon the brand new, rather more critical, cost.
O‘Donovan was first charged with insulting and undermining the president, in response to a police cost sheet, which accused her of final month calling Mugabe a “egocentric and sick man” on Twitter, the primary such arrest for the reason that creation of a Ministry of Cyber Safety final month.
That cost carries a most sentence of 1 12 months in jail, her lawyer stated.
Shava stated police then accused O‘Donovan of organising Magamba, being behind a “shadowy Twitter character” known as @matigary and organising one other Twitter account @OpenParlyZw “for the only function of overthrowing the federal government by means of unconstitutional means”.
The federal government has been significantly uneasy about social media after activists akin to pastor Evan Mawararire and his #ThisFlag motion final 12 months used social media to arrange a stay-at-home demonstration, the largest anti-government protest in a decade. A nationwide election is due in 2018.
The police search warrant confirmed that central to its investigation was a submit on O‘Donovan’s Twitter feed referring to a “Goblin” whose spouse and step-sons had imported a Rolls-Royce, an obvious reference to Mugabe, although he was not named.
In an announcement to police seen by Reuters, O‘Donovan stated:
“I deny the allegations being leveled in opposition to me as baseless and malicious. That’s all I want to say.”
The U.S. embassy in Harare confirmed an American citizen had been arrested and stated it was monitoring the state of affairs intently.
Shava stated his consumer had refused to signal a brand new doc often known as a “warned and cautioned assertion” with the recent cost. The doc units out the federal government’s case and signing it alerts a suspect understands the cost.
She had signed the assertion on the lesser cost.
Police seized her computer systems, cellphones and different digital units within the raid on her dwelling.
Extra reporting by Ed Cropley; Enhancing by Alison Williams