DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (TheBlaze/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.
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 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.
Kilbride is listed as the Yemin & Gulf States co-editor of Muftah.org, launched in 2010 with a goal to "provide incisive analysis on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that eschewed Western obsessions with terrorism, oil, and Islamism and, instead, highlighted issues and concerns that mattered to the region’s people."
Here's Kilbride's bio from Muftah:
Erin Kilbride is co-editor of Muftah’s Yemen and Gulf States pages. Erin is an independent researcher and teacher currently based in Bahrain. She has lived and traveled through the Middle East. Erin’s work explores the intersections of human rights violations, conflicting modalities of protest, and critical theory. She is currently a Research Assistant at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama, and has previously worked with Penal Reform International, the US-Afghan Women’s Council, and Ashoka.
Erin holds a Bachelors degree in Women and Gender Studies and Arabic Language from Georgetown University, and attended the University of Jordan in Amman. She will be pursuing her MSc in Human Rights at the London School of Economics in fall 2013.
Kilbride recently posted an article on Muftah, "In Oman, Protest. Arrest. Pardon. Repeat."
She did not return requests for comment Saturday from The Associated Press; an Aug. 7 Facebook post announces she is "coming back to America for a few months because my baby sisters running a marathon in October."
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.
This story has been updated.