Authorities in Zimbabwe are refusing to release a leading human rights activist and announced they are taking the case to the country's highest court.

Zimbabwe's High Court ordered the transfer of Jestina Mukoko and eight others to a hospital Wednesday, after lawyers argued they may have been tortured in custody.

But a police spokesman Saturday told the state-run Herald newspaper the government has filed an appeal with Zimbabwe's Supreme Court. He says the activists will be held until the appeal is heard.

Attorneys for Mukoko and several co-defendants accused of anti-government activities say police are holding their clients to the maximum-security Chikurubi prison near the capital, Harare.

The facility is notorious for overcrowding, filth, and disease.

Authorities detained Mukoko and more than 20 others in recent weeks on allegations they recruited people for a plot to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

Mukoko runs the Zimbabwe Peace Project and was taken from her home by armed men on December third.

Her case has raised new doubts about a proposed power-sharing deal between Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC. The talks have been stalled for months over which party will control key cabinet posts.

Zimbabwe meanwhile is struggling with a collapsing health care system, a cholera epidemic, food shortages, and hyperinflation last measured at 231 million percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.