Ivan Watson

Senior International Correspondent

Ivan Watson is an award-winning senior international correspondent for CNN based at the network's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong.
CNN Expansion Hong Kong July 2020 795169, Ivan Watson


Ivan Watson is an award-winning senior international correspondent for CNN based at the network’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong. He has reported on major news events from the region including the spread of the coronavirus across Asia, the Hong Kong protests, the Sri Lanka Easter bombings, the Christchurch terrorist attack, the Lion Air plane crash, the Thai cave rescue and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Watson also spent the last three years investigating China’s mass detention of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. His reporting has taken him all around the world and in 2021 his series of special investigations was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Watson is also passionate about environmental issues. He spearheaded long-form investigative pieces including 30-minute documentaries Borneo is Burning and Race to Save the Reef.

Before moving to Hong Kong in 2014, Watson was based in Istanbul for 12 years. During his tenure he covered the rise and reign of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the “Gezi Park” Occupy protests. From Turkey, he charted the deadly government crackdown on protesters in neighboring Syria and the country’s descent into civil war. He made multiple trips into rebel-controlled parts of Syria, while also documenting the surge of refugees across the border into Turkey. He also reported on the ethnic and sectarian cleansing of hundreds of thousands of minority Christians and Yazidis in Iraq by the militant group known as ISIS.

Prior to CNN, Watson worked at NPR, where he spent eight years reporting extensively on major stories around the Middle East, Central Asia and West Africa. Key stories included the US invasion and troubled occupation of Iraq and the US-led overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. Before joining NPR, Watson worked as a Moscow-based producer for CNN in the late 1990’s. He covered the Russian war in Chechnya and the sinking of the Kursk submarine in the Arctic, as well as the unexpected rise of a former KGB agent named Vladimir Putin to the post of President.

Throughout his career, Watson has been recognised multiple times for his reporting. In 2020, his documentary Borneo is Burning was awarded Best Current Affairs Programme at the ContentAsia Awards. Other honours include the Royal Television Society’s Best News Coverage in 2013 for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and two Emmy awards for coverage of the Haiti Earthquake in 2010.

Watson attended Brown University, where he earned a BA in International Relations. He is fluent in Russian and French.