Kony video director hospitalized after "incident"

Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:02pm EDT

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(Reuters) - The director of a video gone viral that calls for the arrest of fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has been hospitalized in California for exhaustion following an "unfortunate incident," his group said on Friday.

It said filmmaker Jason Russell's condition stemmed from the emotional toll of recent weeks.

The 30-minute YouTube video called "Kony 2012," viewed by tens of millions of people, aims to wake up the world to atrocities committed by Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, including kidnapping children and forcing them to fight.

"Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better," Ben Keesey, head of Invisible Children, said in a statement.

"The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday," he added, without giving details.

Asked about media reports that Russell had been detained, a San Diego police spokeswoman said a 33-year-old white man had been taken to a medical facility for evaluation and treatment on Thursday morning after police received reports that he was acting "bizarrely."

But San Diego Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Andra Brown said she could not release the identity of the person detained.

She said people called police to say that the man, who was not arrested, was running into traffic and yelling while in "various stages of undress."

Invisible Children, Russell's nonprofit group, tapped 12 influential policymakers and 20 celebrities with popular Twitter accounts, including Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie, to spread the video. Since then, the company owned by powerful producer Harvey Weinstein has contacted Russell to buy the film.

The phenomenal success of the video, including the savvy media campaign with tweets about Kony, has been hailed for inspiring young people to activism, but has suffered criticism including that it oversimplified a long-standing human rights crisis.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Xavier Briand)

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