American journalist faces jail term on subversion charges

WEB_PHOTO_MUGABE_210917

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017.

WEB_PHOTO_MUGABE_210917

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017.

JOHANNESBURG – The lawyer of an American journalist, who faces a possible jail term of 20-years in Zimbabwe on charges of alleged subversion and insulting 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, is to apply for bail for his client on Monday.

Martha O‘Donovan, who works for Magamba TV, which describes itself as Zimbabwe’s leading producer of political satire, was arrested by police at her home in the early hours on Friday and charged.

READ: Mugabe calls for return of death penalty

Zimbabwe police accuse the journalist of calling Mugabe a “selfish and sick” man in a Twitter post.

However, her lawyers argued before magistrate, Nomsa Sarabauta, on Saturday that their client was only informed of the more serious charge of subversion by police shortly after her arrest, thereby violating the constitution.

The police accuse O’Donovan of setting up the television station and using Twitter “for the sole purpose of overthrowing the government through unconstitutional means”.

O’Donovan was refused bail and faces 11 days in jail until her next court appearance on 15 November – unless her lawyers on Monday succeed in getting bail granted.

The American journalist has denied the charges, which come a month after Zimbabwe created the Ministry of Cyber Security in an attempt to monitor social media critical of Mugabe, who has been in power for 37 years.