UTHAI SAWAN, Thailand (HPD) — Thai police were investigating whether a CNN crew had inappropriately entered a kindergarten while covering the massacre in the building that killed more than 20 children, authorities said Sunday.
The head of the local government, Danaichok Boonsom, told the press that he had submitted a report on the alleged unauthorized entry into government property and that the police were investigating it.
Authorities began reviewing what happened after a Thai journalist shared an image on social media of two members of the news team leaving the scene, with one of them climbing the wall and fence of the compound above the police tape and the other already abroad.
CNN tweeted that the team had accessed the location when the police perimeter had been withdrawn and had been told by three public health officials leaving the building that they could record inside.
“The team took pictures of the center for about 15 minutes, then left,” CNN said in its tweet. “By that time, the perimeter had been reestablished, so the team had to climb over the center fence to get out.”
The tweet was in response to criticism from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, which said it was “dismayed” by CNN’s coverage and its decision to film the crime scene.
“This was unprofessional and a serious breach of journalistic ethics in crime coverage,” the organization said.
In a subsequent statement, CNN International Executive Vice President and CEO Mike McCarthy reiterated that his journalists had requested permission to enter the building, but the team “now understands that these officials were not authorized to grant this clearance” and that “It was never his intention to break any rules.”
CNN has stopped airing the report and removed the video from its website, it added.
“We deeply regret any distress or offense our report may have caused, and any inconvenience to the police at such a difficult time for the country,” he said in a statement tweeted by CNN.
The two journalists had entered the country on tourist visas that have been revoked, said the deputy director of the national police, Surachate Hakparn. They were detained until expelled from the country, he added, without giving further details.
Surachate later told reporters that while the investigations had not been concluded, it appeared that someone had allowed the reporters into the center and they thought they had permission to enter, so they would probably only be fined for working on a tourist visa. and then they would be expelled.
A former police officer who was fired earlier this year on drug charges and was due to appear in court Friday killed 36 people, 24 of them children, in Thursday’s attack.
The worst massacre of its kind ever recorded in Thailand has attracted a great deal of international media interest in the small town of Uthai Sawan, in a rural area in the northeast of the country. By Sunday there were few international teams left, although many Thai media were still reporting from the scene.