NJ’s Martha O’Donovan’s bail hearing postponed
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Bridgewater native Martha O'Donovan remained in jail for at least one more day over a tweet she is accused of sending that was critical of the Zimbabwean government.
A Zimbabwe court allowed a one-day delay in the 25-year-old's bail hearing after the state claimed it was not prepared for Wednesday's hearing.
"Our response is still being typed, so we ask that the matter be postponed to tomorrow when we will be ready with our argument," the state wrote to the judge, according to the state's legal team. The hearing is now scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. (2 a.m. in New Jersey).
The postponement meant the 2010 graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School remained behind bars at the Chikurubi Female Prison, which has been described as one of Africa’s worst prisons.
O'Donovan was charged with trying to subvert the government and with undermining and insulting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Twitter posts. It’s part of her effort to overthrow the government, the country alleges.
She was taken into custody on Saturday after a judge dismissed her attorney’s claim that authorities didn’t make clear the reason for her arrest. O'Donovan is scheduled to be released on Nov. 15, but faces a 20-year jail sentence if she is found guilty at trial.
New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance met with O'Donovan's father over this past weekend, and said her situation had become a priority for the 7th District Republican. Spokesman John Byers told New Jersey 101.5 there would be no additional comment citing "the confidentially of our casework matters."
U.S. Embassy spokesman David McGuire said the embassy is monitoring the case.
"The U.S. Government is aware of the charges that have been levied against Ms. O’Donovan. While we will not comment on the specifics of this individual case, broadly speaking we are not aware of any attempts to overthrow the government of Zimbabwe," McGuire said in a statement.
O'Donovan has at least one supporter in the Zimbabwe government. Parliament member Temba P. Mliswa called O'Donovan's sentence a "miscarriage of justice" in a tweet following Wednesday's postponement.
"She did nothing wrong. Zimbabweans must show their Zimbabweaness by standing with Justice, by standing with Martha. We cannot allow this to continue happening," Mliswa tweeted.
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