European Union lawmakers have called for Brussels to impose sanctions on American journalist Tucker Carlson for interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite the longstanding tradition of American journalists interviewing dictators of all stripes, including a leader of the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, top Eurocrat Guy Verhofstadt has called for Tucker Carlson to face EU sanctions for sitting down with the Russian strongman.
The former Belgian Prime Minister and strong Brexit opponent, who currently serves in the European Parliament, told Newsweek: “As Putin is a war criminal and the EU sanctions all who assist him in that effort, it seems logical that the External Action Service examine his case as well.”
The process for the EU to sanction an individual is typically a lengthy one, with evidence first needing to be presented to its External Action Service — the bloc’s diplomatic arm, run by Spanish socialist Josep Borrell — before being put to the European Council for a final decision.
However, before the interview with Putin, which the Kremlin confirmed on Wednesday, Verhofstadt also suggested that Carlson could face being banned from entering the EU, which could feasibly be imposed sooner, writing on Monday: “Tucker Carlson is surely on the path to being labelled a propagandist for the Russian regime. If he enables disinformation for Putin, the EU should explore a travel ban!”
Although the European Union, the United States and NATO are not officially at war with Russia, some, including former U.S. Congressmen Adam Kinzinger have accused Carlson of being a “traitor” for interviewing Putin. Verhofstadt, for his part, branded Carlson “an enemy of everything the US stands for” and a “mouthpiece” for the Kremlin.
Verhofstadt is not alone among Eurocrats calling for Carlson to face sanctions, with former Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, who now serves in the European Parliament telling Newsweek: “Carlson wants to give a platform to someone accused of crimes of genocide—this is wrong. If Putin has something to say he needs to say it in front of the ICC. At the same time, Carlson is not being a real journalist since he has clearly expressed his sympathy for the Russian regime and Putin and has constantly disparaged Ukraine, the victim of Russian aggression.
“So, for such propaganda for a criminal regime, you can end up on the list of sanctions. This concerns primarily travel ban to EU countries.”
Carlson has asserted that he did not interview Putin to serve the interests of Russia but rather to better inform the American public on the Ukraine war, which he claims has been shrouded in “propaganda” by Western legacy media outlets.
The suggestion that the EU could impose sanctions on an American journalist for merely performing the basic duties of a journalist has drawn criticism.
Tesla and X chief Elon Musk said of the proposed sanctions: “One may agree with Tucker or not, but he is a major American journalist and such an action would greatly offend the American public.”