Subversion charges against US journalist withdrawn

HARARE - American journalist Martha O’Donovan, who was facing charges of subversion and insulting (now former) president Robert Mugabe on social media — was yesterday removed from remand by a Harare magistrate.

This followed an application by O’Donovan’s lawyer Obey Shava for refusal of further remand at the last remand hearing in December when prosecutor Tatenda Murindagomo failed to fulfil her undertaking to furnish the Magamba Network Trust employee with a trial date.

Murindagomo said the State was yet to complete investigations.

Shava told journalists that on December 8 ‘”we made an application on the refusal of  further  remand on the basis that the State was always not ready to proceed to trial with our client’s matter.

“They (State) opposed and the court made a determination and gave the State one more opportunity to put its house in order, failing which the court was going to remove the accused person on remand on the 4th of January 2018, today, and the court honoured its promised and removed our client from remand, so that’s what transpired in court today. So we are happy with that outcome.”

Harare magistrate Anniah Ndiraya told the court that the State must proceed by way of summons.

The 25-year-old is accused of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government. She faced a further charge of insulting former president Mugabe, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

The State alleged that O’Donovan systematically sought to incite political unrest through the expansion and use of sophisticated network on social media platforms as well as running Magamba Network Trust.

She is also being accused of being the face behind accounts on microblogging site Twitter under usernames @matigari and @openparlyzw.