US citizen arrested in Zimbabwe, accused of insulting Mugabe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe police charged a United States citizen with subversion for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe on Twitter as a “sick man,” lawyers said Friday. The offense carries up to 20 years in prison.

This is the first arrest made since Mugabe last month appointed a minister for cybersecurity, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said, in a move criticized by activists as aimed at clamping down on social media users. Zimbabwe was shaken last year by the biggest anti-government protests in a decade.

Police picked up the 25-year-old Martha O’Donovan on Friday morning in the capital, Harare, U.S. Embassy spokesman David McGuire told The Associated Press.

Police accuse O’Donovan of tweeting “We are being led by a selfish and sick man,” from the Twitter handle @matigary, said her lawyer, Obey Shava with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. The tweet had a photo illustration of the 93-year-old Mugabe with a catheter, the charge sheet says.