NAIROBI, KENYA, JUNE 9 -- Kenya today retracted an order expelling a Washington Post reporter that the U.S. Embassy said apparently was made in error.
Kenyan officials informed the embassy that Nairobi correspondent Blaine Harden, picked up and at one stage taken to the airport for expulsion, could remain in the country.
"The order was apparently given in error and without full consultation within the government of Kenya," said a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman. "We have been advised that he can continue his duties as a working journalist, and the government of Kenya has expressed its regrets over this misunderstanding."
The reporter, who angered the Kenyan government with stories on alleged police torture of political opponents, had been told he would be expelled "immediately" this morning by the Nairobi Immigration Department and was handed a letter branding him "a prohibited immigrant."
The deportation order requiring him to leave Kenya said "entry into or presence within Kenya of yourself is contrary to the national interest." It gave no detailed grounds.
The 35-year-old Harden said later he was escorted to the airport to be put on a plane. Kenyan officials relented after he called the U.S. Embassy, and he was told he would be put on a plane late tonight.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said U.S. officials were in contact with the Kenyans seeking to "resolve" the situation. No Kenyan official was available for comment throughout the day.
The original deportation order, Harden said, was dated May 8, and an open plane ticket to New York via London was ready for him at the immigration department when he turned up to inquire about a new work permit he had been told would be granted. The old one expired today.
Harden reported in March on allegations that Kenyan police had beaten and tortured several suspected left-wing opponents of President Daniel arap Moi. The stories embarrassed Moi, who was on a visit to Washington at the time.