In response to criticism that its journalists had illegally entered the daycare where the children were killed and photographed the murder scene, CNN withdrew a report on the slaughter of Thai preschoolers and apologized.
According to deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn, the two CNN journalists involved were fined after discovering they had been working while in the country on tourist visas.
However, they were acquitted of any wrongdoing for entering the daycare center, where more than 20 children were killed.
He claimed that the journalists mistakenly felt they had been permitted to enter and film after being waved in by a volunteer or a health official. They were unaware that the individual was not authorized to let them inside.
He claimed 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.
The team “now recognizes that these personnel was not allowed to offer this authorization,” he said in a statement, adding that it was “never their desire to breach any rules.” He told his reporters had asked for permission to enter the facility.
“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 was already outside, one CNN crew worker was observed going over the low wall and fence surrounding the compound.
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.
The Thai Journalists Association called for an internal business inquiry into the incident in addition to the official Thai investigation, calling CNN’s actions “unethical” and “insensitive.”
In an early response, CNN tweeted that the crew had arrived at the location after the police cordon had been lifted, and three public health officials who were leaving the structure had advised them they could film inside.
The attack on the small community of Uthai Sawan in rural northeast Thailand garnered extensive international media attention as Thailand’s deadliest atrocity.
By Sunday, few people were left, although a sizable number of Thai media outlets continued to provide updates.