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Martha O'Donovan released from Zimbabwe jail on bail

From Al Jazeera - November 10, 2017

An American woman charged with subversion in Zimbabwe over allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe on Twitter has been released from prison on bail.

Witnesses saw Martha O'Donovan, 25, emerge from Chikurubi maximum security prison outside the capital, Harare, on Friday and leave in a US embassy vehicle.

Her lawyers did not speak to the news media, but O'Donovan will return to court on Wednesday.

Judge Clement Phiri of the High Court said on Thursday that there was a "patent absence of facts" in the state's case against O'Donovan, who was arrested last week on accusations she insulted Mugabe, 93, in a Twitter post.

O'Donovan is accused of calling Mugabe a "selfish and sick man" in a tweet that included an image of him with a catheter.

O'Donovan faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted for subversion. She also faces a charge of undermining the authority of or insulting the president, which carries up to a year in prison.

Shehas denied the charges as "baseless and malicious".

Judge Phiri's ruling, which was made in her absence on Thursday, granted O'Donovan $1,000 bail on the grounds that the state failed to exhibit the contents of the alleged tweets calling on people to protest against the government.

Her lawyer, Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, a legal nongovernmental organisation, told Al Jazeera he was pleased with the court order.

"I am very happy that justice has been done, I am glad that my client has been vindicated because we have always argued that she was a perfect candidate for bail," he said outside the court on Thursday.

O'Donovan has spent at least three days in Chikurubi prison, which has gained notoriety among locals for its squalid conditions and frequent food shortages.

Farai Munroe, a local comedian also known as Comrade Fatso and co-founder of Magamba TV, told Al Jazeera that he was very pleased with the court's ruling.

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