Zimbabwe: US woman granted bail for Mugabe tweet but 'absurd charges' must be dropped

“Expressing an opinion in a tweet is not a crime” - Cousin Zilala

In response to a Zimbabwean court’s decision to grant bail to Martha O’Donovan, a US citizen who was detained last week after being accused of insulting President Robert Mugabe, Cousin Zilala, Executive Director Amnesty International Zimbabwe, said:

“Martha O’Donovan should not have spent a single night in jail – expressing an opinion in a tweet is not a crime. Her arrest was the latest example of the Zimbabwean authorities’ utter contempt for freedom of expression.

“While we welcome the decision to release her, the absurd charges against Martha O’Donovan clearly don’t stand up to scrutiny and must be dropped. We fear she will not be the last to be swept up in the clampdown on social media platforms.

“We are calling on the Zimbabwean authorities to stop punishing people simply for exercising their freedom of expression. Social media users must not end up in jail simply for sharing their opinions.” 


Martha O’Donovan was arrested on Friday (3 November) by the police after she was accused of “insulting” President Robert Mugabe when tweets from the @matigary Twitter account were linked to her IP address. In the tweets she allegedly called Robert Mugabe a “selfish and sick man”.

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