EU denies claim Tucker Carlson faces sanctions over Putin interview

The European Union has rejected a claim that Tucker Carlson is facing sanctions because of his interview with Vladimir Putin.

A spokesperson said on Thursday that there are currently no EU talks on sanctions for the former Fox News host in response to rumours shared by X owner Elon Musk, among others.

Peter Stano, a spokesperson for EU foreign policy boss Josep Borrell, told the media on Thursday that “It’s not up to us to try to pre-empt or speculate whether someone will be proposed by a member state or group of member states to be put on the sanctions list”.

He added that the procedure for putting in place new sanctions was “confidential”, according to Agence France Presse (AFP).

“I can say beyond this that currently there are no discussions in the relevant EU bodies linked to this specific person,” he said regarding the rightwing broadcaster.

Mr Musk responded to a tweet suggesting that Carlson may face sanctions, including a travel ban, writing: “If true, this would be disturbing indeed. One may agree with Tucker or not, but he is a major American journalist and such an action would greatly offend the American public.”

On Monday, Guy Verhofstadt, a member of the European Parliament and former prime minister of Belgium, tweeted that EU “should explore a travel ban” against Carlson if he “enables disinformation” for Mr Putin.

The post appears to have fueled speculation online that the EU was set to sanction Carlson.

Mr Stano noted that the EU has sanctioned around 2,000 people and entities following the Russian invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, such as Russian media outlets accused of pushing propaganda, including RT and Sputnik.

“We did it because of their continued track record of constantly accompanying the Russian military aggression with the information warfare,” Mr Stano said, noting that adding anyone to the sanctions list would require unanimous consent from the 27 member states.

That includes Hungary, where Carlson travelled to interview Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“Everything needs to be backed by enough evidence because everyone who is sanctioned by the EU has the right to appeal to the EU court,” Mr Stano said.

Mr Putin’s interview with Carlson is the first that the Russian leader has done since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The interview will be released at 6pm ET (11pm GMT) on Thursday.

“We can all assume what Putin might be saying,” Mr Stano added. “This is a chronic liar who is just spreading lies about his illegal operation against the Ukrainian people.”