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American jailed in Zimbabwe after allegedly tweeting about president

By Allen Cone
American jailed in Zimbabwe after allegedly tweeting about president
Martha O'Donovan, a U.S. citizen, appears at the Harare Magistrates Courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday. O'Donovan was arrested on Friday on allegations of insulting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and attempting to overthrow the government through a message which she allegedly posted on Twitter. Photo by Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Nov. 4 (UPI) -- An American citizen faces up to 20 years in prison on a charge of attempting to overthrow the Zimbabwe government because she allegedly called President Robert Mugabe a "sick and selfish man" on Twitter.

Martha O'Donovan, who works for Magamba TV, a satirical comedy station, was arrested Friday during a dawn raid at her Harare residence and was detained at a police station. Police confiscated her electronic devices, including her laptop.

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Harare Magistrate Elisha Singano authorized a warrant for law enforcement agents to confiscate all her electronic devices. She was charged Saturday with insulting the president and subversion, which carries sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Her next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15.

The tweet came from the account of @matigary, who joined Twitter in February 2016.

Zimbabwe authorities say they believe O'Donovan is the author of the tweet on Oct. 11 based on her IP address. The tweet also included a photo that suggested the president, 93, was relying on a catheter.

O'Donovan, who attended New York University and moved to Zimbabwe last year, said the allegations are "baseless and malicious" because someone is still posting on the Twitter account.

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The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights posted on Facebook said another offending tweet on her account referred to a "goblin whose wife and stepson bought a Rolls-Royce".

Russell Goreraza, who is Mugabe's stepson with his wife, Grace, recently imported two Rolls-Royce vehicles into the country, the Guardian reported.

One month ago, Mugabe appointed a cybersecurity minister to police social media.

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