American Martha O’Donovan Bail Hearing Today

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A 25-YEAR-OLD American citizen, Martha O’Donovan, who is currently held at the Chikurubi Female Prison, over allegations of insulting President Robert Mugabe and attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government following her tweets on social media, is today set to appear at the High Court for bail.

U.S. Citizen Martha O’ Donovan, right, appears at the Harare Magistrates court escorted by a plain clothes police officer shielding her face in Harare, Saturday, November, 4, 2017. Police arrested and charged Donavan with subversion for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe on Twitter as a “sick man,” lawyers said Friday. The offense carries up to 20 years in prison. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi AP Photo


O’Donovan on Monday filed an application for bail through her lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), but when the matter appeared before High Court judge Justice Nyaradzo Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa, prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba sought its postponement to today to enable the State to file its response.

The American woman was arrested last Friday on allegations of insulting Mugabe and attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government, a charge which carries up to a 20-year jail term if one is convicted.

It is the State’s allegations that O’Donovan systematically sought to incite political unrest through the expansion and use of sophisticated network on social media platform as well as running accounts namely Magamba Network Trust, @matigari and @openparlyzw.

The American woman is also being accused of posting a message using username @matigari, which read: “We are being led by a selfish and sick man.”

It is alleged the message was accompanied by a photo illustration showing that Mugabe is surviving on a catheter.

In the court application, the ZLHR argues that the seriousness of the offence alone could not be a sufficient reason to induce O’Donovan to flee, “especially when one has regard to the apparent weaknesses of the State case”.

“The alleged sophisticated network of social media platforms is not specified. The offending content from those social media platforms is not set out. Consequently, the State case is not founded upon any factual basis but a bald allegation,”
O’Donovan lawyers said.

“It is not immediately clear what account Magamba Network Trust is, applicant (O’Donovan) is employed by Magamba Network, which is a registered trust, whose date of registration is 9 September 2010, several years before the commission of the alleged offence. Applicant is neither founder nor a trustee.”-amh