US woman faces up to 20 years in jail for ‘insulting’ Mugabe

Martha O Donovan is pictured being led into a prison truck

An American woman was unceremoniously thrown in jail in Zimbabwe on Saturday because police say she is behind a Twitter account which mocks the country’s president even though someone else has taken credit for it and continues to goad the leader from it.

Martha O’Donovan, 25, was arrested on Friday morning at her home in Harare, Zimbabwe, by police who accused her of being behind a tweet posted by anonymous Twitter user @matigary on October 11.

The tweet labeled Mugabe, 93, a ‘selfish and sick’ man and suggested he was relying on a catheter.

Police claim they traced its IP address to her home and they say she is behind the entire account despite the fact that it was still active on Saturday even after she was thrown in jail.

‘LOL they think she is me,’ said one of the tweets. They also joked that they had tried to turn themselves in but that the authorities want to keep O’Donovan behind bars because she is foreign.

Elsewhere they joked that they had tried to turn themselves in but that the authorities want to keep O’Donovan behind bars because she is foreign.

O’Donovan is a producer for the political satire TV network Magamba and who has studied human rights across Africa for years.

She is likely being held in one of two, notoriously grotty prisons – Chikurubi or Harare Central. Her representatives have not confirmed which but they plan to go to the high court on Monday to appeal her jailing.

Martha O’Donovan is pictured being led into a truck to be taken to jail on Saturday after a court hearing in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she is charged with insulting and undermining President Robert Mugabe on Twitter
This is the post O’Donovan is accused of writing. It was shared under the Twitter handle @matigary on October 11 and includes a photograph which the user said appeared to show he was using a catheter .
 Authorities in Zimbabwe said they traced the IP address of the October 11 post to O’Donovan’s home and they believe she is behind it.

She is now charged with undermining or insulting the president and may face an additional charge of attempting to overthrow the government.

A judge dismissed her lawyers’ motion to throw out the arrest warrant on Saturday and she was remanded in custody until November 15 when she will return to court for a bail hearing.

O’Donovan, a graduate of NYU, has been in Zimbabwe for the last year working for the local TV network Magamba and bar tending.

She went to Africa in 2013 to teach young local people how to become radio journalists as part of her NYU fellowship on human rights in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Magamba TV, which she now works as a producer for, describes itself the home of ‘satirical comedy sensations’.

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