(Reuters) - The director of a video calling for the arrest of fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony suffered from a brief psychosis when he was hospitalized last week in California, the filmmaker’s wife said on Wednesday, the same day an anti-Kony resolution came before the U.S. Senate.
Jason Russell, who directed the 30-minute “Kony 2012” Internet film that went viral earlier this month, was detained by police in San Diego last week after witnesses reported a man in “various stages of undress” who was “acting bizarrely, running into traffic” in public, police said.
“Jason’s incident was in no way the result of drugs or alcohol in his body. The preliminary diagnosis he received is called brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration,” Russell’s wife, Danica, said in a statement.
The “Kony 2012” film became an Internet sensation this month, racking up more than 84 million hits on YouTube since it was posted and thrusting its director into the spotlight.
The video’s aim was to wake up the world to the atrocities committed by Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, including kidnapping children and forcing them to fight.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 33 U.S. senators introduced a resolution condemning Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army for crimes against humanity and supporting efforts to remove him from the battlefield.
“Joseph Kony represents the worst of mankind, and he and his commanders must be held accountable for their war crimes. Today, one-third of the United States Senate has joined me in condemning the LRA’s unconscionable crimes against humanity,” said Chris Coons, a democrat from Delaware who led the resolution alongside Senator Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican.
U.S. officials had already taken actions aimed at stopping Kony before Russell’s video hit the Web. In October 2011, President Barack Obama notified Congress that he had authorized about 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to help government forces battling Kony.
The phenomenal success of Russell’s video has been hailed for inspiring young people to activism, but has suffered some criticism including that it oversimplified a long-standing human rights crisis.
Russell was not arrested following what his organization has called an “unfortunate incident,” but officers transported him to a medical facility and he was treated for “exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition.”
“The doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks,” Russell’s wife said.
Russell will continue to remain under hospital care for a number of weeks, and his wife said the recovery process “could take months” before the director is able to resume his work with Invisible Children.
Russell, who narrates the Kony video with a personal story that juxtaposes shots of his young son in San Diego with the hopelessness of Ugandan children, has said the video was meant as a kick-starter to a complicated issue.
A host of celebrities, including George Clooney, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Oprah have joined the virtual chorus of support for the cause.
Mixed reactions in Uganda include criticism that the attention came too late, that much of the armed conflict in the area has subsided and the film leaves out that the Ugandan military is often accused of committing the same atrocities as Kony’s fighters. In addition, Kony is believed to have long since fled Uganda and now only commands a few hundred followers.
Invisible Children also has faced questions about its governance in light of financial statements showing a large proportion of funds were used for travel and film production rather than charity work.
Additional reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston