CNN has apologized and removed a story about a massacre of Thai preschoolers Sunday due to criticism that its journalists had illegally entered the daycare where the children were killed and photographed the murder scene.
According to a report by the Western Journal, the deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn told journalists that the CNN employees were fined after it was discovered that they had been working while in the country on tourist visas.
However, they were exonerated of any wrongdoing for entering the daycare center where more than 20 children were killed.
The police official claimed that after being waved inside the building by a volunteer or a health official, the journalists felt they had been granted permission to enter and film and were unaware that the person was not authorized to do so.
He claimed that they each consented to pay 5,000 baht ($133) in fines and depart the nation.
Both journalists expressed regret, as did Mike McCarthy, executive vice president, and general manager of CNN International.
In a statement, McCarthy said his reporters looked for permission to enter the building but the team “now understands that these officials were not authorized to grant this permission,” adding that it was “never their intention to contravene any rules.”
“We deeply regret any distress or offense our report may have caused, and for any inconvenience to the police at such a distressing time for the country,” he said in the statement tweeted by CNN.
He claimed that CNN had stopped airing the segment and had taken the footage off its website.
Authorities started looking into the incident after a Thai reporter shared a photo of two crew members leaving the scene in northeastern Thailand, where they were covering a police officer’s attack on Thursday that authorities claim killed 36 people, including 24 children, in total.
While the other CNN crew member was already outside, one was observed scaling the short wall and fence around the facility over police tape.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand criticized that, saying it was “dismayed” by CNN’s reporting and the choice to film the crime scene inside.