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5 Rights Activists Charged in Zimbabwe, Lawyers Say

FILE - The control tower is seen at Zimbabwe's main international airport in Harare, Nov. 9, 2017. Earlier this week, authorities arrested five activists at the airport.

Authorities in Zimbabwe have charged five human rights campaigners arrested earlier this week, accusing them of plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa, lawyers said Wednesday.

"The five were charged with subverting a constitutional government," Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda said in a statement.

Four of the activists were arrested Monday when disembarking from a flight at Harare airport. The fifth was arrested at the same airport Tuesday.

According to the lawyers, police said the activists had attended a workshop in the Maldives run by a group that trained people "how to mobilize citizens to turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil disobedience."

The arrests came days after state-owned daily The Herald ran a story claiming organizations with links to the main opposition MDC party "had been hard at work laying the groundwork for civil unrest to be unleashed next month."

Zimbabwean authorities have in the past used brutal force, including the use of live ammunition, to crush dissent.

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