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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Barry Pollack

Aired June 26, 2003 - 20:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: An American Woman who sought Fidel Castro's help in getting her son and daughter back from her ex-husband had quite a day, so did her ex.
Luci Newman, has been following the twists and turns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCI NEWMAN, HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): For nearly two years, Cornelia Streeter lived in despair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't imagine what it's like to not have your children with you. I mean, the whole thing is a nightmare.

NEWMAN: A nightmare that's just ended in Cuba. Cuban authorities found her two children, 10-year-old Henry and 8-year-old Victoria at this Marina in Havana where they had been staying on a yacht with the man who allegedly kidnapped them their father. According to the Cuban government communique, he was arrested discretely so the children wouldn't realize what was going on. Then they were taken to authorities here called an Adequate Place in the company of someone they were very familiar with, a Cuban sailor that he had hired to take care of his yacht.

Hours later they were reunited with their mother who appealed to Cuban President Fidel Castro through an intermediary. The children had been coming in and out of the marina for several months with their father, who had earlier taken them to Egypt and than Spain. The Cuban will prosecute him on charges related to child kidnapping. The case recalls the saga of a young Gonzales, the Cuban boy who returned to Cuba after the United States, after a highly politicized international custody battle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWMAN: Cuban authorities say they are very quickly double checking all of the facts in the case of the two children and that in the next few hours they should be making a decision about when the mother and the two children can return to the United States -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Lucia.

Joining me now to talk more on when that reunion might happen back here in the United States is Barry Pollack, he is Cornelia Steeters attorney.

He joins us from Boston tonight, welcome, sir.

BARRY POLLACK, ATTY. FOR CORNELIA STREETER: Paula.

ZAHN: Tell us a little bit about what your client's thinking right now and how soon I it might be before she gets to go home.

POLLACK: We expect that Nina Streeter will be returning with her children in the next few days. The timing of it as we understand it is going to be based on what works best for the children.

ZAHN: For folks who haven't been following this story closely. She basically was able to get her children back by sending a personal letter to Fidel Castro.

Did he ever meet your client?

POLLACK: I actually don't know if they've had that meeting yet. But Ms. Streeter has been extremely appreciative and impressed with the way Cuba have been treating her and her children. They've been sensitive from preventing any other trauma to the children.

ZAHN: Did your client feel that she was being used in any way by Fidel Castro?

POLLACK: No, my client after a 22 month ordeal which I think in that ealier taped she called a nightmare, just is tremendously excited to get her children back.

ZAHN: I think we must try to understand what it might be like for her after a long separation. Never the less, there are people watching the case that despite a great turn out for her they also believe this is a great P.R. coup for Fidel Castro.

What do you think?

POLLACK: Well, I think it's the second time that Cuba has demonstrated that it will not allow the country to serve as refugee for child abductors. And it appears from everything that I have heard that they have been paying particular attention to the care of the children. And Nina's just happy with the way they're being treated.

ZAHN: So you think this is purely motivated what -- as you're describing a good heart towards families?

POLLACK: My client is has experienced nothing but care by all of the Cuban officials and the matter could not have been handled better. I think Cuba has probably demonstrated a model by which countries could recover and return children.

ZAHN: And finally tell us what challenge also might lie ahead for this young mom and her two children who have been separated for this long period of time.

She has to get them to read adjust to a new way of life here.

What lies ahead for them? POLLACK: That's right. And that's a good question. I had a good opportunity to speak with Nina twice today and for the first time in 22 months I had an opportunity to say hello to her daughter. They are all sounding in excellent spirits and looking forward to coming home. It is too early to tell the extent to which the ordeal could take a toll on them. Obviously, it's been a major ordeal.

ZAHN: We wish them luck because we know it has not been easy for those children since if they have been shuffled back and forth from country to country.

Barry Pollack, thank you for your time tonight.

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