DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahrain deported a U.S. citizen working as a teacher in the gulf kingdom over what it described Saturday as her “radical” writings on Twitter and websites as the government cracks down on dissent the country.
Erin Kilbride, of Portland, Maine, left the kingdom and was to arrive back in the U.S. later Saturday, officials at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said.
In a statement Saturday, Bahrain’s Ministry of State for Communications said it had received complaints about Kilbride. The ministry said an investigation found that Kilbride worked “illegally as an unaccredited journalist” in violation of her visa.
Kilbride was “using Twitter and a number of websites to publish articles on Bahrain that were deemed to incite hatred against the government and members of the royal family,” the ministry said. It did not offer specifics about what she wrote, though it did say she wrote for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
The ministry also said her landlord apparently reported Kilbride for having a flag of Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim political party and militant group in Lebanon. The official Twitter feed of Bahrain’s Minister of State Communications, Fawaz Al Khalifa, posted images Saturday that it described as a yellow Hezbollah flag in Kilbride’s bedroom.
Kilbride did not return requests for comment Saturday from The Associated Press.
Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet, has faced months of unrest between the Sunni-led monarchy and its majority Shiite population. The government has started a crackdown on dissent, including the parliament approving tougher measures against so-called “terrorists” that give authorities greater ability to strip citizenship from people convicted of violence.
On Friday, British Airways barred Maryam al-Khawaja, the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, from boarding a direct London-to-Bahrain flight over what a spokesman described as a request from the government. Al-Khawaja is the daughter of jailed activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights: www.bahrainrights.org