The Washington Post reporter at the center of a Twitter storm after she was suspended for tweeting about Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case in the hours after his death has been reinstated to her role - but not before the reporter and her colleagues launched an attack on the newspaper's 'handling' of the matter.
In a statement Tuesday, the Post said that an internal review had determined that political reporter Felicia Sonmez was 'not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy,' but maintained that her tweets were 'ill-timed'.
'We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths. We regret having spoken publicly about a personnel matter,' the statement signed by The Post's managing editor Tracy Grant said.
Felicia Sonmez, a national political reporter for The Washington Post, has been reinstated following her suspension for tweeting about Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case in the hours after his death
Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna (pictured together) and seven others were killed when his private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning
Bryant (pictured with his family) was accused of rape in 2003 by a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado hotel prior to a scheduled knee surgery. He was never charged in the case
The announcement came as Sonmez, who said she received death threats following her tweet just after Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash, took to Twitter to slam her employer's actions.
Sonmez tweeted directly to Marty Baron, the newspaper's editor: 'I believe that Washington Post readers and employees, including myself, deserve to hear directly from @PostBaron on the newspaper's handling of this matter. My statement on The Post's decision tonight:
'Washington Post journalists endeavor to live up to the paper's mission statement, which states, 'The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world.'
'My suspension, and @PostBaron's Jan. 26 email warning me that my tweets about a matter of public record were 'hurting this institution,' have unfortunately sown confusion about the depth of management's commitment to this goal.
'I hope Washington Post newsroom leaders will not only prioritize their employees' safety in the face of threats of physical harm but also ensure that no journalist will be punished for speaking the truth.'
Sonmez was reinstated after the Post said that an internal review had determined she was 'not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy,' but maintained that her tweets were 'ill-timed.' Sonmez slammed her employer's handling of the case on Twitter on Tuesday (above)
Sonmez's latest tweet again divided social media users
Some jumped to her defense agreeing with her initial post
Her tweet comes after reporters at The Post leaped to her defense and demanded their employer protect Sonmez after she received threats following her post.
Sonmez's tweet again divided social media users.
Some jumped to her defense, with one person tweeting: 'well said Felicia, truth is truth...in all of its ugly and pretty forms'
However others criticized the timing of the original post and applauded The Post's decision to suspend her.
'Quite honestly your suspension is warranted given the bad judgement and lapse of character you demonstrated in a sensitive time. You get no pity from me. The @washingtonpost was right to suspend you,' said one tweet.
The saga kicked off when Sonmez, who covers national politics for The Post, took to Twitter shortly after the world learned of Bryant's death along with eight others, including his daughter Gianni, aboard his private helicopter when it crashed outside of Los Angeles on Sunday.
She posted a link to an April 2016 story from the news site The Daily Beast which carried the headline: 'Kobe Bryant's Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser's Story, and the Half-Confession.'
The tweet generated hundreds of shares and thousands of likes as well as many comments.
In follow-up tweets, Sonmez wrote: 'Well, THAT was eye-opening.
'To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story - which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me.
'Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling.'
Sonmez (left) took to Twitter shortly after the world learned of Kobe Bryant's (right) death and posted a link to an April 2016 story that recalled rape allegations made against the player
How it all started: Hours after it was learned that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who were killed in a helicopter crash, Sonmez tweeted a link to a 2016 story about the 2003 rape accusations against the basketball legend
In follow-up tweets, Sonmez writes: 'Well, THAT was eye-opening. To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story - which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me. Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling'
Sonmez continued: 'That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn't even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases.'
In another follow-up tweet, Sonmez wrote: 'As an addendum: Hard to see what's accomplished by messages such as these.
'If your response to a news article is to resort to harassment and intimidation of journalists, you might want to consider that your behavior says more about you than the person you're targeting.'
Sonmez deleted the tweets due to the overwhelming backlash, but others on Twitter screengrabbed the posts and responded with disgust.
The reaction on Twitter from Bryant fans was so severe that the hashtag #FireFeliciaSonmez was trending.
'What a disgusting post from Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez immediately after Kobe Bryant and his daughter's death,' tweeted one Twitter user.
Another Twitter user wrote: 'It takes immense skill and stupidity to find a way to play the victim, in a moment where 9 people lost their lives in a helicopter crash.
'Again, delete your account.'
One Twitter user demanded: 'Hey @washingtonpost, do the right thing and show the world that irresponsible journalism is unacceptable.'
Another Twitter user wrote: 'There's a time & place for everything. Bringing up dirt on someone that just died only a few hours ago is neither the time or place. Felicia is a f***ing disgrace to her profession.'
Grant told DailyMail.com on Sunday that The Post had placed Sonmez on administrative leave and was looking into its policies on the matter.
'National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom's social media policy,' said Grant.
'The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.'
The decision to suspend Sonmez led to a backlash against the paper from her fellow reporters who leaped to her defense.
Bryant (seen above in Eagle County Justice Center in Eagle, Colorado, in January 2004) was arrested and charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment after a 19-year-old woman alleged he raped her in a local hotel room
Reporters at The Washington Post had come out in defense of Sonmez
Reaction on Twitter was scathing, with some viewers referring to Sonmez as 'garbage'
Twitter users slammed Sonmez for the timing of her tweet, which was posted hours after it was learned that Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles
One Twitter user called Sonmez a 'heartless reporter' for posting the tweet when she did
Another Twitter user demanded that Sonmez post messages like the one posted by former President Barack Obama
Another Twitter user referred to Sonmez as a 'garbage human' on Sunday
'Are y'all trying to get him to pay for his 'crimes' in the afterlife?' one Twitter user asked
At least one Twitter user, however, sympathized with Sonmez, writing: 'The minutes someone passes people try to completely erase their wrongdoings'
'The age and status of the others who unfortunately passed do not negate his crimes and homphobia,' wrote one Twitter user
The reporters, all members of the newspaper's union, said Sonmez has received death threats after posting the tweets and demanded the newspaper provide protection for the journalist.
'Felicia received an onslaught of violent messages, including threats that contained her home address, in the wake of a tweet Sunday regarding Kobe Bryant,' the Washington