Nick Kristof’s Twitter raid

In covering a sex-slavery bust on a Cambodian brothel, a New York Times columnist shows his digital dexterity.


Kevin Morris


Published Nov 7, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 1:37 am CDT

As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tagged along with a squad of highly armed Cambodian policemen last night, he took to Twitter.

The target of the police raid was a northern Cambodian brothel that had, according to Kristof, operated “with impunity” for years, enslaving over a dozen girls, the youngest of whom was 13.

It’s a relatively new part of Kristof’s globetrotting, do-gooding journalism, for which Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. specifically praised the columnist in a speech last week.

The raid Kristof covered was instigated by Somaly Mam, an anti-slavery activist and survivor whose eponymous foundation organizes similar brothel raids throughout Southeast Asia. The goal is to free sex slaves and expose the practice of sex slavery throughout the world. (Between 12 million and 27 million people worldwide are in some form of bondage, and sexual exploitation is often the goal of their captors.)

Kristof tweeted the whole event to his followers Monday morning, whose Twitter streams turned into a tense, live narrative—particularly so as an armed clash between police and military seemed imminent.

The owner of the brothel, as it turned out, was a military officer. Shortly after the police officers, armed with AK-47s, arrested him, a group of soldiers rolled into town. But a potentially deadly firefight was avoided as the arresting Cambodian prosecutor faced the soldiers down, according to Kristof.

Police then took the officer and his wife, who also ran the brothel, into custody.

But that’s just a summary. Check the Storify below for Kristof’s entire set of tweets from last night.

Photo via @nickkristof

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*First Published: Nov 7, 2011, 11:59 am CST