American woman charged with subversion in Zimbabwe freed ‘for now’

Martha O'Donovan sits in the back of a U.S. Embassy vehicle as she leaves Chikurubi Maximum Prison near Harare on Nov. 10, 2017.
(Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP/Getty Images)

A Zimbabwean court has freed “for now” an American woman charged with subversion after authorities said she described the former president on Twitter as a “sick man.”

Martha O’Donovan had faced up to 20 years in prison. A magistrate removed her from custody Thursday after prosecutors failed to provide a trial date, freeing her from the charges but only temporarily.

O’Donovan’s lawyer, Obey Shava, told the Associated Press that she can still be summoned back to court if the prosecution feels it has more evidence against her. But she can get her passport back.

After the ruling, a smiling O’Donovan said she had no comment and left the courtroom to hugs from friends.

She has denied the allegations of insulting former leader Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November under pressure from the military and ruling party.