Thai police: CNN crew fined for working on tourist visas, entering the day care center where more than 20 children were massacred

UTHAI SAWAN, Thailand– CNN pulled out a story about the massacre of Thai preschool children and on Sunday apologized for criticism that its journalists entered the daycare where the children were killed and filmed the scene without permission.

The two CNN journalists involved were fined after authorities found they had worked in the country after entering the country on tourist visas but were cleared of wrongdoing for entering the daycare center where more than 20 children were killed said Deputy National Police Chief Surachate Hakparn.

He said his investigation found that the journalists believed they were given permission to enter and film after being waved into the building by a volunteer or a health official, and were unaware that the person was not authorized to let them in.

They agreed to pay a fine of 5,000 baht ($133) and leave the country, he said.

Both journalists apologized, as did Mike McCarthy, executive vice president and general manager of CNN International.

In a statement, he said his reporters asked permission to enter the building, but the team “now understand that these officers were not authorized to grant that permission,” adding that it “was never their intention.” to break the rules”.

“We deeply regret any distress or offense our report may have caused and any inconvenience caused to police at such a worrying time for the country,” he said in the statement tweeted by CNN.

He said CNN stopped airing the report and removed the video from its website.

Authorities began investigating the incident after a Thai reporter posted on social media an image of two crew members exiting the scene in northeast Thailand, where they were reporting Thursday’s attack on what authorities say a fired police officer was involved in that he massacred 36 people, 24 of them children. One CNN crew member was seen climbing the low wall and fence surrounding the site, over police cordon tape, and the other already outside.

This led to criticism from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, who said they were “dismayed” by CNN’s coverage and the decision to film the crime scene inside.

“This was unprofessional and a serious breach of journalistic ethics in reporting crimes,” the FCCT said.

The Thai Journalists’ Association criticized CNN’s actions as “unethical” and “insensitive” and called for an internal company investigation into the incident in addition to the official Thai investigation.

In an initial response, CNN tweeted that the crew had entered the premises when the police cordon had been removed from the center and were told they could film inside by three public health officers exiting the building.

“The team collected footage at the center for about 15 minutes and then left,” CNN said in its tweet. “By that time the barrier had been put back in place so the team had to climb over the fence in the middle to leave.”

Considered Thailand’s worst massacre of its kind, the attack drew international media attention to the small town of Uthai Sawan in the country’s rural north-east. Few remained as of Sunday, but a large number of Thai media continued to cover the scene.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Thai police: CNN crew fined for working on tourist visas, entering the day care center where more than 20 children were massacred

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