Local news

Fresh freedom bid for twitter ‘coup plotter’

By Staff Reporter

RIGHTS lawyers have launched a fresh bid for the release of American citizen, Martha O’Donovan arrested this past week over a twit authorities allege amounted to subverting a constitutional government and undermining authority or insulting President Robert Mugabe.

Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were working on drafting the bail application after Harare Magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta Saturday dismissed an application filed by O’Donovan challenging the legality of her arrest.

O’Donovan’s lawyers Roselyn Hanzi and Obey Shava had challenged the lawfulness of the American citizen’s arrest when she appeared in court on Saturday.

But Magistrate Sabarauta dismissed O’Donovan’s application and remanded her in custody to Wednesday 15 November 2017.

This prompted her lawyers to work on drafting and filing an application for her release on bail at the High Court.

The 25 year-old American citizens who works at Magamba TV in Harare was arrested on Friday and charged with the two offences.

This follows her post via micro blogging site Twitter, which read, “We are being led by a selfish sick man”.

The post included a picture illustration of the Zanu PF party leader with a catheter.

The prosecutors charged that the message allegedly posted by O’Donovan is abusive, indecent and obscene and is aimed at undermining authority of or insulting President Mugabe.

Prosecutors also claimed that O’Donovan “systematically sought to incite political unrest through the expansion, development and use of a sophisticated network of social media platforms as well as running some Twitter accounts under the handle Magamba Network Trust, @Matigary and OpenParlyZw with a view to overthrow or attempt to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means”.

The prosecutors charged that O’Donovan is the mastermind behind an organised social media campaign aimed at overthrowing or attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means and is the “central component” in a highly organised attempt to replicate offline uprisings like what happened in Tunisia and Egypt”.

Donovan becomes the first person to be arrested and charged with abuse of social media since the government established a Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation headed by Patrick Chinamasa last month.

Gary Murambiwa
the authorGary Murambiwa