CNN Cuts Ties With Freelancer After Hamas Ties Revealed

By Mark Mwachiro 

CNN on Thursday revealed that it had severed ties with Hassan Eslaiah, a freelance photojournalist based in Gaza, after the network was alerted that he was present during the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel orchestrated by Hamas

According to Mediaite, Newly-appointed CNN CEO Mark Thompson, during the network’s morning editorial call on Thursday, said, “We’ve discovered that a stringer may have been there during the attack with Hamas on Oct 7. CNN had no prior knowledge of the attack.”

Honest Reporting, a pro-Israel watchdog group, revealed that Eslaiah was one of several Gaza-based photojournalists who happened to be at the breached border area around the same time as the horrific early morning attacks on Oct. 7 were taking place.


A photo of him being kissed by Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, was also shared online by the Honest Reporting group.

Images from these photojournalists, including Eslaiah, were used by news organizations with photo licensing deals with the AP and Reuters, such as CNN, Fox News, The New York Times, and NBC News.

CNN also released an official statement regarding severing ties with Eslaiah, saying, “We are aware of the article and photo concerning Hassan Eslaiah, a freelance photojournalist who has worked with a number of international and Israeli outlets. While we have not at this time found reason to doubt the journalistic accuracy of the work he has done for us, we have decided to suspend all ties with him.”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, condemned the international media for employing these photojournalists, saying, “These journalists were accomplices in crimes against humanity; their actions were contrary to professional ethics.”

The Associated Press and Reuters also put out statements denying that they had advance warnings of the attacks and that they, too, have served ties with Eslaiah.

The New York Times tweeted out a statement not long ago as well:


The AP’s David Bauder reported Thursday that the executive director of pro-Israel watchdog Honest Reporting “admitted the group had no evidence to back up that suggestion. He [Hoffman] said he was satisfied with subsequent explanations from several of these journalists that they did not know” of the attack ahead of time.

While Honest Reporting does not consider itself a media organization, Bauder notes that their report “had serious ramifications at a time of war,” adding. “It led two Israeli politicians to suggest the journalists be killed. Several of the world’s biggest news organizations — CNN, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and Reuters — issued statements Thursday denying they knew about the attack ahead of time.”