Police in Zimbabwe arrested and seized the laptop of a US citizen currently residing in the nation on suspicions that she called President Robert Mugabe a “Goblin” on Twitter.
The tweet was allegedly sent by Martha O’Donovan who works for Zimbabwean political satire producers Magamba TV, Reuters reported this afternoon.
The report goes on to detail that police were armed with a warrant that is linked to an investigation of a case of “undermining authority of or insulting the President”.
Central to the investigation is O’Donovan’s Twitter timeline in which she allegedly retweeted a user comparing the president to a Goblin. Understandably O’Donovan’s Twitter profile is protected but a number of users have rallied around the #FreeMartha hashtag on Twitter.
Among those tweeting are the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (@ZLHRLawyer).
While investigating this story Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights tweeted an update which alleges that Zimbabwean police are now laying a charge of attempting to overthrow the government on O’Donovan.
Breaking News: High drama in Zim as police currently preferring a charge of attempting to overthrow Mugabe govt against @Martha_ODonovan
— ZLHR (@ZLHRLawyers) November 3, 2017
The organisation said on Twitter earlier today that this was the first arrest the Zimbabwean government had made since establishing it’s Cyber Security ministry in October in the run up to the country’s Computer and Cyber Crimes Bill being finalised.
Zimbabwean news website Techzim reported in August that many human rights groups feared that the bill would be used to limit the freedom of citizens.
It is unclear how long of a sentence O’Donovan would face should she be found guilty of trying to overthrow the government but we have contacted ZLHR and will update this story when we have more more information.[Source – Reuters] [Image – CC BY ND 2.0 GovernmentZA]