New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, who is in Bahrain to cover the ongoing protests in the country’s 10-month-old uprising, tweeted Friday that he was tear-gassed and then taken into a police car in the eastern island of Sitra before being released by a senior officer. The Bahrain Ministry of Interior wrote on Twitter: “The Correspondent of the New York Times wasn't arrested and he sought police protection.” Kristof scoffed at the Ministry’s statement.
As Kristof tweeted of his experience, along with photo journalist Adam Ellick, he received dozens of tweeted responses from Bahrainis telling him he was not welcome in the country. Some of the tweets came from self-described human rights activists, and were a marked departure from a Kristof Facebook fan page created in February by “the people of Bahrain” to thank him for his coverage.
Bahrain is well known, however, for having a large number of aggressive government supporters on Twitter, dubbed “trolls” by Internet freedom watchers. Marc Owens Jones, a doctoral candidate at Durham University in Britain who has studied Bahrain and social media extensively during the uprising, wrote on his blog in March that “these trolls are usually engaged in spreading information that is either controversial, offensive or just plain wrong.”
Read Kristof’s tweets and the response from Bahrainis below: