Holly Williams is a CBS News foreign correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey. She joined CBS News in July 2012 and has more than 15 years of experience covering major news events and international conflicts across Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Williams, who is fluent in Mandarin, received the George Polk Award in 2012 for her reporting on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, after he escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Evading government security guards, she was the first reporter to reach his village, where other members of his family were being harassed by the Chinese authorities.
In 2015 Williams received the Edward R. Murrow Award for her continuing coverage of ISIS and the Jack R. Howard Award from the Scripps Howard Foundation for her early reporting on ISIS in Syria and northern Iraq.
Williams was one of the first journalists in Iraq to report on the emergence of ISIS in the country’s north in the summer of 2014. She has continued to cover ISIS across the region, including the battle for Tikrit, the discovery of mass graves in western Iraq, and the militants’ advance in Libya.
Williams has also covered Syria’s civil war from inside the country, where she and her team gained access to a prison where alleged ISIS terrorists were being held, and interviewed female Kurdish fighters on the frontline. She was the first network correspondent to reach Raqqa after U.S.-backed forces captured it from ISIS in 2017.
Williams’ international reportage includes the downfall of the Russian-backed government in Kiev; the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370; the Israel-Gaza conflict; the uprisings in Egypt after the military removed former President Mohammed Morsi from office; and the Nepal earthquake. She also provided rare reporting from Saudi Arabia, and interviewed women who have been punished for demanding the right to drive.
Williams also has contributed several stories to 60 MINUTES, including a story on the rising film industry in China. She also conducted the first television interview with former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Slahi.
Williams has distinguished herself as an international investigative reporter. In 2013 she went undercover inside a Bangladesh factory that exports clothing and other garments to U.S. and European retailers where she discovered safety and labor violations. She posed as an ivory buyer to report on the global trafficking of illegal ivory from Africa to China, and investigated the use of the U.S. Government-funded “dark net” by pedophiles.
Before joining CBS News, Williams was a Beijing-based Asia correspondent for Sky News, covering the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster and the release of Burmese Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
Prior to that, she was a producer for both BBC News and Sky News. She produced stories that won the Royal Television Society Award, the Foreign Press Association Award and the Golden Nymph.
Williams was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2007-2008. She has a Master of Arts in international relations from Deakin University and a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from the Australian National University.