Kony video director hospitalised after 'incident'

HOSPITALISED: Jason Russell.
HOSPITALISED: Jason Russell.

The director of a video gone viral that calls for the arrest of Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony has been hospitalised in California following an "unfortunate incident" that his group says stemmed from the emotional toll of recent weeks.

Jason Russell, director of the 30-minute "Kony 2012" YouTube video and co-founder of the group Invisible Children, was hospitalised on Thursday for "exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition," Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey 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," Keesey said without providing details.

"Jason's passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue," he said.

The video Russell directed became an Internet sensation this month, racking up nearly 80 million hits on YouTube since it was posted with the aim of waking up the world to atrocities committed by the Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, including kidnapping children and forcing them to fight.

San Diego police dispatcher transcripts show neighbours began calling about 11.30am on Thursday (local time) to report that a man was running around in his underwear in the city's Pacific Beach neighbourhood.

"(Subject) is at the corner, banging his hands on the ground, screaming, incoherent," the transcript continues. "People are trying to calm him down, he's been stopping traffic."

A San Diego police spokeswoman, asked about media reports that Russell had been detained, said only that a 33-year-old white man had been taken to a medical facility on Thursday morning.

"The San Diego Police Department received several calls that he was acting bizarrely, running into traffic, interfering with traffic, yelling,"

"Officers responded to a radio call to check the welfare of an individual who was said to be running in the street, interfering with traffic, screaming; one person said that he was naked and masturbating," police spokeswoman Lieutenant Andra Brown told AFP.

She said officers detained the man, who according to witnesses was in "various stages of undress," but did not arrest him after deciding it was better to take him to a medical facility. She declined to name him.

The phenomenal success of Russell's video has been hailed for inspiring young people to activism, but has suffered criticism including that it oversimplified a long-standing human rights crisis.

Russell, who narrates the video with a personal story that juxtaposes shots of his young son in San Diego, California, with the hopelessness of Ugandan children, has said the video was meant as a kick-starter to a complicated issue.

A spokesman for the San Diego-area hospital where Russell was thought to have been taken could not immediately be reached for comment, and it was not clear if he was there on Friday (local time).

Celebrities including George Clooney, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Oprah Winfrey have announced their support for the cause against Kony. The company owned by powerful producer Harvey Weinstein has contacted Russell to buy the film.

Reuters, AP