Zimbabwe: arrest for Mugabe tweet marks 'sinister new chapter'

Martha O’Donovan has been arrested for "insulting” President Mugabe © Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Amnesty International has reacted to today’s news that Zimbabwean police have charged a US woman Martha O’Donovan on suspicion of insulting President Robert Mugabe by calling him a “selfish and sick man” on Twitter.

According to reports, it is the first arrest since Zimbabwe’s creation of a Ministry of Cyber Security last month.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director Muleya Mwananyanda, said:

“This arrest marks the start of a sinister new chapter in the Zimbabwean government’s clampdown on freedom of speech - and the new battleground is social media. 

“Following President Mugabe’s appointment of a minister for ‘Cyber Security’ last month, the detention of Martha O’Donovan appears to confirm fears that this new portfolio will simply be used to punish anyone speaking out against the authorities on social media platforms.”

IP address tracked

Zimbabwean police today arrested O’Donovan for “insulting” President Mugabe after tracking anti-government tweets from the @matigary Twitter account to her IP address. Police raided her home with a search warrant requiring O‘Donovan to give up her computers, phones and other electronic devices. She has denied the allegations. If convicted, O‘Donovan’s lawyer has said she faces a maximum of one year in jail.
 

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