Jestina Mukoko, head of a local rights group, and eight other activists were this week charged with recruiting or attempting to recruit Zimbabweans to undergo military training to topple the government.
The case has deepened doubts over a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition seen as the best chance of easing Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.
The High Court on Wednesday ordered the release of Mukoko and her co-accused to a local hospital. It also ordered that 23 other mainly opposition activists be freed from police custody because their detention was illegal.
If tried and found guilty they face the death penalty.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told the state-run Herald newspaper that authorities were appealing against the ruling at the Supreme Court, automatically suspending the High Court order.
"We have been advised by the attorney general’s office that they have noted an appeal against the High Court order issued on Wednesday," Bvudzijena said.
"We are further advised that the noting of the appeal has an effect of suspending the High Court order. We are still holding them in custody."
The activists’ lawyers said police were using delaying tactics to keep the activists in custody. It was not clear when the appeal would be heard.
The Sept. 15 power-sharing agreement has stalled over allocation of key cabinet ministries.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he will ask his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to suspend negotiations with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF if abductions of MDC members continue and if arrested activists are not brought to court by next Thursday.
Tsvangirai won the first round of voting in March but fell short of the majority needed to become president, triggering a run-off which Mugabe won after the MDC leader pulled out citing violent attacks on his supporters.
Zimbabweans are increasingly frustrated by the political deadlock after initial hopes that the power-sharing pact could end years of economic turmoil and hardships in the once promising southern African country.
The country’s woes have worsened after a cholera epidemic, which has killed more than 1,500 people, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs