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Zimbabwe Court Orders American Held on Charges of Undermining Mugabe, Subversion

Martha O'Donovan enters Zimbabwe Magistrates Court in Harare, Nov. 4, 2017. (S. Mhofu/VOA)

A court in Zimbabwe on Saturday ordered a U.S. citizen held in jail while she faces allegations of subversion and undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe.

The American, Martha O'Donovan, who works for a Zimbabwe online TV station, was arrested Friday after police converged on her house with a search warrant during a dawn raid.

On Saturday, a lower court referred her to the High Court to apply for bail, as she was facing a "third schedule" offense.

O'Donovan's representative, Obey Shava of the group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said, "We will be approaching the High Court on Monday for bail application. But what we then did was to challenge the arrest of our client. We were contending that the arrest was not in compliance with the mandatory provisions of the constitution — in particular, that the police were obligated to inform our client for the reason of the arrest at the time they arrested her, something which they didn't do.

"Unfortunately, the [judge] was not with us on that particular issue. As a result, our application was dismissed."

According to state court documents, police observed tweets from O'Donovan saying a sick person was leading Zimbabweans.

The American denied both charges of subversion and undermining the authority of Mugabe as "baseless and malicious."