Zimbabwe: Police Arrests US Citizen Over Robert Mugabe 'Goblin' Tweet

Zimbabwe: Police Arrests US Citizen Over Robert Mugabe 'Goblin' Tweet

Kerry Wise
November 5, 2017

Security forces searched the house of Martha O'Donovan, Director of the satirical media outlet Magamba TV, and seized electronic devices, including her laptop, according to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Efe news reported.

An NYU grad working for a Zimbabwean TV station faces 20 years in the slammer for allegedly insulting the country's controversial leader on Twitter.

Zimbabwe police have detained U.S. citizen Martha O'Donovan for allegedly referring to President Robert Mugabe as a "goblin" on Twitter.

Lawyer Rose Hanzi told the court the subversion charge was illegal because police did not inform Ms O'Donovan of it when she was taken from her home in the capital, Harare, on Friday morning. He added that his client had been charged with insulting the president.

American woman Martha O'Donovan has appeared in a Zimbabwean court accused of attempting to overthrow the country's government on charges that carry a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail.

The US embassy in Harare confirmed O'Donovan's arrest and said it was monitoring the situation closely.

New York City truck attack: Federal Bureau of Investigation speaking with 2nd Uzbek man
A law enforcement official said Kadirov was a friend of suspect Sayfullo Saipov's and may not have any role in the case. The complaint says Saipov plowed a rented truck through pedestrians and bicyclists intentionally.

In a statement to police, O'Donovan, who grew up in New Jersey, called the allegations "baseless and malicious".

O'Donovan is accused of referring to Mugabe when she tweeted about a "Goblin" whose wife and step-sons imported an expensive vehicle.

The alleged tweet follows online reports that Mugabe's two sons, Robert Jr and Chatunga, have imported at least one luxury vehicle from neighboring South Africa.

O'Donovan's arrest comes a month after Mugabe appointed Patrick Chinamasa as minister of a new cybersecurity ministry targeting crime on social media and other websites. The position was created to focus on crimes on social media and other websites, after activists used social media to promote the largest anti-government protest in a decade previous year.

O'Donovan works as a producer and project officer with local television network Magamba, which produces satirical content for distribution by Facebook and YouTube, created to provoke activism and open up Zimbabwe's democratic space.

The group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says it has represented close to 200 people charged for allegedly insulting the president in recent years.