HARARE (Reuters) – A high court judge in Zimbabwe said on Thursday the state’s case against a U.S. citizen charged with trying to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s government lacked facts and ordered that she be granted bail.
Martha O‘Donovan has been in prison since Saturday, a day after she was arrested on accusations of insulting Mugabe in a Twitter post. Police later leveled the more serious charge of subversion, which carries a possible 20-year jail term.
In granting her bail, High Court Judge Clement Phiri said there was a “patent absence of facts” in the state’s case.
“The applicant has demonstrated that she should be granted bail. It is my finding that it is in the interests of justice that the applicant be given bail,” Phiri said.
O‘Donovan was not in court. Phiri ordered her to deposit $1,000 with the court, surrender her passport and report to the criminal investigations department twice a week as part of her bail conditions.
Her lawyer Obey Shava said O‘Donovan would be released on Friday after completing administrative procedures. Amnesty International said in a statement the case showed that Zimbabwean authorities had contempt for freedom of expression.