Monday, January 16, 2006

CNN banned from Iran


Iran's government banned CNN journalists from working in the country Monday after a translation error broadcast by CNN mistakenly quoted Iran's president as saying his nation has the right to build nuclear weapons, the state-run news agency said.

CNN was not informed directly by the Iranian government that it was banned from the country.
The dispute arises from a moment of simultaneous translation Saturday.

As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was speaking, an interpreter working for a translation company hired by CNN misquoted him as having said Iran has the right to build nuclear weapons.

In fact, he said Iran has the right to nuclear energy, and that "a nation that has civilization does not need nuclear weapons." He added, "Our nation does not need them."

The incorrect translation was aired on CNN later Saturday.

As soon as it was alerted to the error, CNN on Sunday corrected the translation and clarified Ahmadinejad's remarks. The network also apologized.

In a written statement, CNN said it "apologized on all its platforms which included the translation error, including CNN International, CNNUSA and, and also expressed its regrets to the Iranian government and the Iranian ambassador to the U.N."

But the Iranian government, in the report by the state news agency IRNA, said it took a punitive measure against CNN, invalidating press cards of CNN journalists in Tehran.

The Foreign Press Department of the Ministry of Culture and the Islamic Guidance said it will not extend permits to CNN journalists because of the violation of "professional ethics," the IRNA report said.

The network, in its statement, said, "CNN is very disappointed that this action has been taken."
The translation company, Lesley Howard Languages, apologized to CNN.

"Obviously, we're taking it very, very seriously. We will never use him again," said owner Lesley Howard, referring to the interpreter.

She said the same interpreter, who like other interpreters is contracted for individual projects, has done good work in the past, including for CNN.

She added that there is no reason to believe the interpreter purposely gave the wrong translation.

"We pride ourselves on having incredibly high standards," Howard said.