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Iranian Authorities Say They Will Not Stone A Convicted Adulteress To Death, But They Have Not Yet Rescinded Her Death Sentence

Aired July 9, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Russia and the U.S. trade prisoners on an airport tarmac in Vienna. It's a throwback -- echoes of the cold war story, maybe. But this time, relations between Washington and Moscow are getting decidedly warmer.

But wait a minute, do old school spooks mean anything at all in a digital age?

Tonight, we explore the possibilities of a future with cyber spying.

Well, you could rely on the traditional spy to steal your document, of course. But a cyber spy can copy an entire library of classified information at the click of a mouse. Tonight, a look at the future of global espionage and how it might impact you and me.

Also tonight, a suicide blast in Pakistan targets tribal elders and kills dozens. We're going to have the story and its connections, which, in this case, extends to Washington.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a quick impact project -- $25 million from the U.S. AID for this road and another one like it.


ANDERSON: It's the story the U.S. doesn't want Pakistanis to know about, and we'll explain why.

And the last up this week in our special series of reports on training the next generation of football superstars. And your thoughts on all things football, the World Cup or anything at all, Tweet me atbeckycnn. That's atbeckycnn. Get involved in how we tell the story.

Well, in many ways, spies work in the dark, don't they?

So when the U.S. arrests focused an international spotlight on espionage, both the U.S. and Russia moved as quickly as possible to wrap things up.

And to kick off this part of the show is Matthew Chance with details of what happened Friday and why.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the 10 Russian spies deported from the United States arrived in Moscow and were quickly spirited away in black tank vehicles. We expect they will be debriefed by their Russian intelligence handlers. Their movements and contacts in the past few weeks, months and years are likely to be closely scrutinized by agents assessing what went wrong and what blew the cover of this group of self-confessed covert operatives.

Earlier, there were echoes of the cold war, with the high drama being played out at the airport in Vienna. Two planes parked on the tarmac -- one carrying the 10 from the United States, the other carrying the four released and parden -- pardoned by Russia -- the biggest spy swap since the end of the cold war, taking place on the neutral territory of Vienna International Airport.

But it happened so quickly that these arrests were made by the U.S. is perhaps a sign of the times, that both Moscow and Washington need to reset their sometimes strained relations. They want to put this embarrassing episode behind them as soon as possible.

But it is also a stark reminder that the U.S. and Russia may no longer be bitter enemies, but they are still not the closest of friends.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


ANDERSON: Well, what Matthew describes there is a -- spying in a very traditional sense, of course. Back in February, Jeanne Meserve showed us an unsettling simulation of espionage in a much, much more modern sense -- a cyber attack.

Let's take a look at part of her report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up to 20 million and counting of the nation's cell phones have stopped working so far today in what officials claim is the largest communications crisis in the cell phone era.


A cyber-attack. As government officials convene, there is one overarching question.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Is this an act of war, not a criminal act?

MESERVE: The infected Smartphones show a video of the Red Army, raising speculation the Russians are behind the attacks. Meanwhile, the crisis expands.

STEPHEN FRIEDMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Incidents of identity theft and online financial fraud have increased dramatically.

MESERVE: Officials discuss the possibility of shutting down the infected Smartphones, but government can't do it.

STEWART BAKER, ROLE PLAYER: I'm actually shocked to hear that we don't have this authority. If this was someone with smallpox wandering through the Super Bowl, we would have the authority to quarantine them.

MESERVE: Can the military assist?

What powers does the president have?

JAMIE GORELICK, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: We are operating in a bit of a -- a bit of uncharted territory, as you know.

MESERVE: The attack is traced to a server in Russia. If the U.S. Shuts it down, will the Russians see it as an act of war?

And is Russia really behind the attack?

Then more grim news have the Internet is infected, the power grid impacted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are also now receiving alarming reports of significant and growing power outages in major metropolitan areas in the eastern half of the United States.

MESERVE: There is discussion of nationalizing the power grid or mobilizing the National Guard to protect it.

BENNETT JOHNSTON, ROLE PLAYER: But keep in mind, there are over 160,000 miles of transmission lines. You cannot guard every mile of that.

MESERVE: And the cyber-attack goes on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in corporate boardrooms and I.T. centers across the country, our nation's leaders are wondering if their networks are really secure and if this crisis might, indeed, spread into their systems.


ANDERSON: Jeanne Meserve there describing what would -- what was a simulation of what might -- could happen next.

Well, our next guest says cyber espionage is the way forward, it's here to stay, he says, and there is nothing that governments can do to stop it.

Jeffrey Carr is the author of "Inside Cyber Warfare," mapping the cyber underworld.

And he joins me now from Washington.

Sir, thank you for doing this with us on a Friday evening.

How does cyber espionage, so far as you're concerned, compare with that of the old school spying industry?

JEFFREY CARR, AUTHOR, "INSIDE CYBER WARFARE": Well, it's certainly much less risky for a nation to run its -- its espionage operations via the Internet. It's almost impossible to identify the source. Attribution is extremely difficult. So you have this anonymous vehicle and you have access because of poorly protected networks to be able to get in and download data almost completely undetected.

ANDERSON: Well, we know that the...

CARR: So, you know, that's -- very rich. Very rich espionage opportunities.

ANDERSON: Right. We know that the Russians are certainly up to the old school type of tricks, as we've seen in this past couple of days; as are the U.S. in -- in Moscow.

Who's up to it when it comes to cybia -- cyber espionage, sir?

CARR: I'm sorry. You're -- are you asking me who...


CARR: -- is (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: Who's doing it and who's most at risk?

CARR: Everyone is doing it. They're -- I don't think any nation would not be doing it, it's so easy to do. So the -- there's very little entry cost and it's quite exploitable. So I would -- you can safely assume all nations are doing it.

Who chose it, who is at risk?

That's a relatively easy question, you know, to answer. And the way that you would do that is that dependent on the nation. So every nation has its priorities -- Russia, China, for example, they have very specific priorities. And if you are -- if you're company happens to be engaging in that type of research and development, then you're going to be at risk.


CARR: And most likely they'll be in your network.

ANDERSON: Identify some of those -- those sort of companies or industries. Give me some examples.

CARR: Well, for example, China -- there's a -- China has a couple of two very -- very highly placed priorities that they are expanding quite a bit of money in terms of R&D. One is advanced aircraft design, the other is energy. Now, that includes minerals -- you know, mining of minerals, oil, gas, that kind of thing.

So if you're engaging in that type of work, if you're a foreign nation or a foreign company engaging in that type of work, you would be a -- a high value target for Chinese cyber operations to -- to be conducted against. And, for example, the way that would work out is if you were a mining company or an energy company and you were scouting the world for newer reserves, like, for example, the U -- U -- the Pentagon just discovered this very, very rich deposit in Afghanistan, a trillion dollars or more of valuable minerals. I can assure you that China is all over that.


CARR: They've already got a contract in Afghanistan. They're going to be intercepting BlackBerry calls, Internet networks, whatever -- whenever and wherever they can to obtain...

ANDERSON: All right. OK...

CARR: -- that type of info.

ANDERSON: I get what you're saying. I want to talk about what governments and, indeed, companies can do to prevent cyber espionage, if anything. But let's just have a listen to what Obama said before he was elected on this very subject.

Have a listen to this, Jeffrey.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As president, I will make cyber security a top priority in the -- in my administration. It should be one of the top priorities that we have in the 21st century. I will declare our cybal -- cyber infrastructure a strategic asset and appoint a national cyber adviser, who will report directly to me.

We'll coordinate efforts across the federal government, implement a truly national cyber security policy.


ANDERSON: Has he done that?

CARR: No, no. No. Of course not. It's -- no. Absolutely not. And cyber is still a low priority. It doesn't really matter what is said in Washington. Actions will tell you where the priorities are and it's still a very low priority.

Part of that is -- part of that is, is because it's easy to do a successful operation. A successful cyber espionage operation means that no one has detected you. It's the -- it's the failed operations that get detected. So the fact that you don't hear so much about it means that it's going to be lower on the priority scale and therefore it will -- these nations will continue to run these operations via a cyber network.

ANDERSON: I know you've got a great example, because we were speaking earlier about a cyber espionage and its use outside of sort of nation state work. This -- this takes us right inside the heart of Mexican drug cartels and then back to the U.S. administration.

Just -- just enlighten our viewers, if you will, because this is fascinating.

CARR: Right. So what we do -- what my consulting firm does is we look for emerging threats and try to educate our clients, corporate clients, government clients, about those emerging threats. One of them that we're noticing is taking place on the part of Mexican drug cartels and the gangs that they hire to enforce their activities. And that is the acquisition or the use of social networks.

They've already been using YouTube for several years. That's not really new. But what is new this year is that they started using Facebook and Twitter in order to -- to act as sort of a -- a metaphor of their ability to shut down a -- a town, literally, through threats broadcast on Facebook and Twitter.

They established a curfew and no one after a certain hour left their home.

Now, the next logical step for them is to see that social networking is an open source intelligence gold mine. And it's -- what -- what we would do, if we were hired by a cartel -- and this is sort of what's known as red teaming -- is that we would want to be inside of U.S. law enforcement networks so that we can monitor their activities. And therefore we'd know when an operation was being launched against one of our cartel customers.

ANDERSON: That's fascinating.

CARR: And this is very easy to do because of the use of social networking.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating stuff.

We're going to have to leave it there.

We've got a -- a developing story that I've got to get to, so we absolutely do appreciate your time this Friday evening.

And come back and talk to us about this subject again.

CARR: My pleasure.

ANDERSON: Jeffrey Carr for you this evening.

CARR: Any time.

ANDERSON: Now, police in England say that they have located suspected killer Raoul Moat. Now he has been the subject of a giant manhunt in northeastern England after allegedly shooting his ex-girlfriend. This is some days ago -- fatally shooting her new boyfriend and shooting a police officer.

Well, Simon Hooper, CNN's Simon Hooper joins us now from Rothbury with an update -- Simon, what can you tell us?

SIMON HOOPER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the center of Rothbury is now blocked off by police. And it seems as if the police have apprehended somebody down by the river which runs through the town here. There's a few witnesses who say they saw a man come out of the bushes. About a dozen or so police immediately surrounded him -- armed police -- and urged everyone else to get out of the area. That was about an hour ago now and the situation now seems to be that there is, perhaps, a negotiation situation going on.

ANDERSON: Simon, do remind us of the details of what has been going on in -- in Rothbury, England over the past four or five days or it's coming onto nearly a week, I think, at this point, isn't it?

HOOPER: Well, this is a very quiet Northern English town. And on Tuesday, the -- the entire -- the entire town was locked down by armed police after suggestions that Raoul might have been hidden in the area somewhere.

Since then, it's been kind of surreal with people going about their daily business. People haven't been too worried about it. The -- the roads have opened up. There have still been armed police guarding the schools, patrols going through the -- the town center all day, which I think has come as a surprise to people, that he has actually been apparently apprehended so close to the center of town. This is a very hilly forested region. And a lot of people, I think, thought that he might be heading further out in the hills.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. It's been an unprecedented police operation there in the north of England.

Simon Hooper there with the very latest details in what appears to be the apprehension of the man known as Raoul Moat, who has been on the -- on the loose in that area now for about five days.


I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

We're going to take a very, very short break.

Back after this.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

The same week that Pakistani leaders called for a national strategy to counter the threat from militant Islam, a terrible reminder of the challenges that lie ahead. The Taliban are claiming responsibility for today's suicide bombing near the Afghan border that killed at least 56 people.

Now, the United States is spending millions of dollars to help Pakistan fight Islamic militants. But fearing a backlash in tribal areas, Pakistan is effectively developing stealth tactics to spend all that aid. And we're going to get to that strategy in a moment.

First, though, more on the devastating attack in a region that Washington calls the global headquarters of al Qaeda. Authorities say the suicide bombing targeted a local government office.

But as CNN's Nic Robertson now reports, many civilians in a marketplace paid the terrible price.

ROBERTSON: Well, among those dead, three children and two women that killed as the suicide bomber detonated his car full of explosives as he was driving through the market, apparently very close to this government building that appeared to be his target. That's what the Taliban are saying, that they believed that there was a meeting of tribal leaders there who support the government. That's whom they appeared to be targeting. At least one eyewitness said that he believed that there was a meeting like this taking place in the government building.

Government officials, however, won't confirm it.

Absolute destruction in that marketplace. Twenty stores completely flattened. Five houses brought down, as well. The Brit -- the buildings there made of mud bricks. It took rescuers a long time to dig through the rubble of all those collapsed buildings to pull people out.

And even when the wounded were removed from the debris, they still had an hour's journey by road in Peshawar. No hospitals in that particular town where the attack took place.

The Taliban do -- are claiming responsibility. They have been having strikes like this at government targets all around this sort of tribal border region, as the Pakistani Army has tried to push its offensive there.

The death toll probably higher -- higher than if there had been a hospital close by. Many of those arriving at the hospital in Peshawar arriving untreated out of the ambulances there after anybody hour long journey. The death toll could yet rise more.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.


ANDERSON: Well, its military offensives in Pakistan have completely failed to wipe out Islamic extremists in the border regions. So the Army, it seems, now is trying a different approach, that relies on underground aid from abroad.

Joining the dots for you on this story, Nic once again.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Road crews at work where just last year the Pakistani Taliban planted IEDs. They're building 100 kilometers -- 60 miles -- of new highway through Pakistan's tribal badlands towards Afghanistan.

(on camera): This is U.S. tax dollars at work. The United States is paying for this road building. It is a quick impact project -- $25 million from the U.S. AID for this road and another one like it.

(voice-over): There's no fanfare, no U.S. Flags, just American money being spent quietly. Pakistan's army is using the funds in an effort to win over South Waziristan's tribes, following its offensive against the Taliban last year.

MAJOR FARRUKH MAJID, PAKISTAN ARMY: We have made them understood that this is for their benefit that we have -- that were are constructing and we are coming here up over here for their benefit.

ROBERTSON (on camera): When the main army operation began against the Taliban last October, as many as 120,000 people from this area -- close to a quarter of the population -- fled their homes. Now the pressure is on to get the reconstruction going and get them back home.

(voice-over): A girl's college where none has been built before -- from the same fund used to build the road, both quick start projects accepted by the tribes here.

This tribal leader explains, "We'll accept help from whoever offers it. The United States, too, so long as it's done through a trusted partner and doesn't change our culture."

Pakistan has lost 2,000 troops fighting the Taliban in these border regions in the past year, often because the tribesmen sided with the militants.

Now, commanders say, say the U.S.-funded counterterrorism strategy is working and the tribes here are switching sides.

(on camera): Commanders here tell us that they've defeated the Taliban in this area. But everywhere we go, we got a big military escort. And there are soldiers standing guard at the side of the road. It gives the impression that the area is not 100 percent secure yet...

(voice-over): -- an impression local residents share.

ABDUL KHALIQ, WANA RESIDENT: There is a constant threat to -- to the public and to our people who are supporting the government.

ROBERTSON: Just last month, there was a drone attack on a house barely a few miles from here. Several foreign militants were reportedly killed.

But the Pakistani Army is gaining ground. The changes its making -- the colleges for women, paved roads where they've never been before -- are changing life in communities like these for good. By stealth, U.S. Tax dollars are helping to turn the tide in the remote mountains of a far off land.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Wana, Pakistan.


ANDERSON: What a positive story, you'd say.

Well, our next guest says there should be or could be a fundamental problem with stealth aid.

Moeed Yusuf is a Pakistan expert with the U.S. Institute of Peace.

And he joins us now from Washington.

It sounds like a -- a positive and decent story to me.

What's wrong with it?

MOEED YUSUF, UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE: Well, I think -- you know, I think there's nothing wrong with the aid and various kinds of American money that's going in. But the problem really is I think Washington has not been able to figure out which projects are ones where there should be a footprint of the U.S. and which are ones which should be stealth aid.

Now, a number of these projects -- roads, electricity projects -- I don't see any reason why these should be undercover. I mean I think these are things that Pakistanis want, they cannot resist. Even if they are hostile toward the American presence in Afghanistan, these are precisely the projects which are going to change their mind. And I think we are too conscious on this.

And there are others which, I think, should be undercover, frankly, and perhaps should not be publicized, like the visibility of the U.S. sort of delegations going there and pledging money for certain things, like madrassas, which are very culturally sensitive.

And there we've been less -- less careful about this.

ANDERSON: Does it really matter, at the end of the day, whether people in the region know where this money comes from or not, as long as it's being spent well and it's helping them out and improving things and providing some progress?

YUSUF: Sure. I think in Pakistan, it really does matter, because there is a tremendous amount of conspiracy theories floating around about the U.S. aid and what the real U.S. interests are. There's discussion about cultural insensitivity, the U.S. trying to get the nuclear weapons out. All of this is seen as an agenda to buy out the Pakistani leadership for the ultimate sort of nefarious goals.

And there I think it really does matter if you tell people that a lot of good that is coming to their lives is coming because of the U.S. And, you know, if -- if there are issues which are sensitive to Pakistanis, I think, frankly, the U.S. shouldn't be involved. If madrassa sort of funding is something that Pakistanis do not welcome from the U.S., perhaps we should find other partners to do that.


YUSUF: But there are a number of, you know, areas where we should and we should put our stamp on it.

ANDERSON: Now, CONNECT THE WORLD is committed to getting a sense of how a story in one part of the world resonates elsewhere. And I'm just thinking that this U.S. stealth aid story is one. Yes, we see it in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

But we also see this story all over the world, don't we?

YUSUF: Correct. Correct. And I think that's a much broader problem of U.S. foreign policy with the Islamic world. I think a number of things come into that. It's not only aid. A lot of misconceptions about the U.S. and a lot of facts about the US-Israeli policy and how that sort of plays into the Muslim mind, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and how people have viewed that.

So that's a much broader issue. And I think that is precisely why we should be fighting this even more with U.S. aid going and changing the lives of people rather than supporting, you know, regimes which are either not popular or are not efficient enough to get these -- this money to -- to their people.

ANDERSON: Now, Moeed, we're going to leave it there and we're going to take a very short break.

But we do very much appreciate your time.

And fascinating stuff.

Moeed Yusuf your expert this evening.

Soccer success -- American supporters of what the world calls football hope to ride the wave of the World Cup.

Will their dreams be realized?

We're going to examine that question next here on this show.


I'm Becky Anderson in London.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Well, as anticipation builds for Sunday's Spain-Netherlands World Cup final, we here at CONNECT THE WORLD are showing you the global impact of the beautiful game.

Yesterday we visited Brazil, where a training academy teaches kids life lessons, as well as football.

We also went to Germany for you this week, where youth training academies help turn kids into future stars.

We found a similar story in Ghana, as it works to maintain its status as an African football power.

Well, in the United States, they can only wonder what -- what if Team USA were playing in Sunday's final. Well, soccer proponents there remain optimistic the sport will one day gain the status of baseball or basketball and American football.

Richard Roth is on the story for you.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The disappointment still lingers in the United States after elimination at the World Cup. But just minutes after this public viewing of the loss to Ghana, an impromptu soccer kick around began. U.S. soccer leaders think the spirit shown under a bridge in Brooklyn will spread to more Americans.

NELSON RODRIGUEZ, MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: There's definitely an impact on the success of the World Cup as it's been received in the United States and across North America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely. I think it -- it gave Americans something to be proud of again, which was important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen a lot of kids in the streets saying Christian Reynaldo (ph), saying Donovan (ph). So I think the future for American soccer probably is pretty bright.

ROTH: U.S. soccer's growth story has been a never ending story for decades now.

ALAN ROTHENBERG, 1994 USA WORLD CUP CHAMPION: We made a ton of progress in the last 20 years in developing soccer in this country. But we are not yet where we need to be and where we want to be.

ROTH: The U.S. National Soccer League says the World Cup boosts an already surging sport.

RODRIGUEZ: There is no one magic bullet that's going to grow major league soccer into a titan overnight. But these moments become iconic. They become embedded in people's sports and minds. And soccer continues to capture the hearts of more fans.

ROTH: A long time soccer analyst thinks changes need to be made.

PAUL GARDNER, SOCCER ANALYST: It needs to be attractive. It needs to be exciting. It's no good just pushing out any old version of soccer there and saying, OK, this is it, you've got to come and watch this. It's not going to happen.

ROTH: America's youth continues to be rocket fuel for soccer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every school, every community that you go to, you know, something huge, you see soccer fields everywhere. And the game is definitely developing.

ROTH: One soccer sage says the growing Hispanic population in the U.S. must be cultivated, with more Hispanic players selected for the national teams.

GARDNER: It needs to get that influence in there, because we -- otherwise, we're turning our back on an absolute gold mine of talent that we've got in this country. It doesn't make any sense to me.

ROTH: Assuming team USA doesn't win the next World Cup, in Brazil, the next boost to the game here could be for the U.S. to win its bid to host the tournament in 2018. Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


ANDERSON: Well, there is the World Cup final this weekend. Of course, we had to fantastic semis this week. We'll talk more football in the next half hour with one of our super fans, Mr. Bath in the house for you, in about 20 minutes. The headlines coming up after this. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Back with CONNECT THE WORLD, on CNN. It is a Friday evening in London. I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, the Iranian government says it will not send to death a woman convicted of adultery. But what exactly will happen to her is still unclear.

We are less than 48 hours away from kickoff in the World Cup final. Our resident super fan is in the studio to give us his expert prediction on who will be crowned champions. We will have a look back at the tournament as well.

And finally, we are bringing you highlights from our best interviews over the last few months, from Oliver Stone, to Lady Gaga, Boy George to Diane Von Furstenberg. You're "Connector of the Day" the best, a little later in the show. Those stories ahead, in the next half hour. First a very quick check of the headlines.


ANDERSON: Well, cries of protest from inside and outside Iran appear to have saved and Iranian woman from being stoned to death for adultery. Whether that means her life will spared entirely is still unclear. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom has been following the story for us and he joins us life now with the very latest.

And what is that? Because it is a slightly confusing story at this point, Mohammed?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, while the Iranian government yesterday made their first public remarks on the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, insisting that the 42 year old mother of two would not be stoned to death. There is still a lot of confusion as to what exactly will happen to her.


JAMJOOM (voice over): With Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's life hanging in the balance, behind bars in Tabriz, the international campaign lead by her son to save her from being stoned to death gathered steam. Sparking condemnation from governments around the globe against her eminent execution for allegedly committing adultery in Iran.

From the U.S. State Department:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was deeply troubled by press reports of the planned execution by Iranian authorities of Ms. Ashtiani, by stoning. Stoning is a means of execution that is tantamount to torture. It's barbaric and an abhorrent act.

JAMJOOM: To a harshly worded statement from the British embassy in Tehran: "Stoning is a medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world. The continued use of such a punishment in Iran demonstrates a blatant disregard for international, human rights commitments, which it has entered into freely, as well as the interests of its people."

To the summoning of the Iranian ambassador in Norway to address the Ashtiani case, Sajad Mohammed Ashtiani's plea for the world to come to his mother's aid appeared to be working. Addressing the international outcry Iranian officials released a letter in response to the Ashtiani case, denying reports that she will be stoned to death.

"According to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment. The embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran highly recommends that news and reports should not be taken for granted and considered a reliable source of information for officials statements or misjudgments."

Human rights advocate Mina Ahadi who has been working on behalf of Ashtiani's children to bring attention to the case says the statement leaves too many questions unanswered.

MINA AHADI, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE (through translator): This letter says they will not stone her, but they didn't say what will happen to her afterwards. I get surprised, because we always have big campaigns against stoning, but then the government stones people. We don't want them to drop the stoning order, but then pick up another execution order. We want her freed and the charges dropped.

JAMJOOM: Ahadi says that Ashtiani's son Sajad told her he is refusing to back down from his open letter of request for an additional pardon from Ayatollah Khamanei or Judiciary Chairman Sayad Gladijani (ph).

AHADI (through translator): He told me, we must receive a letter from the government in Tehran, saying that my mother's charges are dismissed and that my mother is free to go.

He said that he would be happy if these charges are dropped and will thank everyone who helped his family, but he also told me that he wants proof that they will not throw his mother back in prison, and proof that they won't come back and say she will be stoned or executed.

JAMJOOM: As the world watches, Ashtiani's son campaign may have prevented his mother from being stoned to death, but for now it remains unclear whether Sajad's plea is enough to spare his mother's life.

(On camera): And it is not just governments and rights groups that are condemning this stoning sentence. This case has sparked a huge reaction on social media. You are seeing people on Twitter, supporters of Sakineh that are Tweeting and re-Tweeting every facet of this case emerges, every new development. Also, on facebook there is at least one group that is supporting here. There is one page that has over 4,000 members, Becky.

ANDERSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on that story. If you missed Jamjoom out of CNN Center, for you this evening. Many thanks for that.

Well, stay with us, on CONNECT THE WORLD, we will be right back. And that is when we'll be talking.


ANDERSON: Well, in just a split second anxiety turns to utter joy. Spanish fans still reveling in their World Cup semi final win over Germany. So, do the Dutch, after their Oranje heroes booted out South America's last tournament hope, that was Uruguay, of course. The World Cup dreams of 30 teams have been dashed in the past four weeks. And the Netherlands, the coveted prize is still theirs for the taking.

So, which country will still be celebrating come Sunday? We'll find out when the final battle kicks off in just 46 hours from now, and counting. How about that? Through out the year, the tournament we have been joined each week by a man who translated his passion for the game into documentary making. It was a movie or a film called "Football Fables", directed by Baff Akoto, who is our super down here in the studio.

Spain Netherlands, you didn't dare call it. I didn't call it. What do you think?

BAFF AKOTO, DIRECTOR, FOOTBALL FABLES" I don't think anybody called it. I think the pre-tournament favorite is Spain. I mean the have found themselves and they've come right. In that sense the form book was correct. And the Spanish they really looked solid against a real credible test.

ANDERSON: But look as we are talking this is the reaction in Madrid Saturday, when the goal was caught. I'm not sure, even though they knew that their team were coming good, I'm not sure convinced they were going to win that game.

AKOTO: It was a nervy kind of-it has been a nervy campaign for the Spanish.

ANDERSON: Of course.

AKOTO: The weight of expectation. They wobbled, that was a real credible test against Germany in the semi-final, and you know if you beat Germany, you deserve to win the World Cup. So, yeah more power to them.

ANDERSON: All right. Germany beating Uruguay, of course, in the semifinals. A game and a half, in fact.

AKOTO: Yeah. Uruguay/Dutch, that was -it was tense, I mean the Dutch are by far and away the best team there. And they should have only been one winner. And you know, eventually there was. But it was a nervy tense game. Van Bronckhorst's goal, and other contender's goal in the tournament, it was just -the thought of going low (UNINTELLIGIBLE) nobody has any right scoring it was a screamer. So I mean, a goal like that can send you straight to the World Cup.

ANDERSON: All right. And so, Germany and -thank you for correcting me-Germany and Uruguay are going to play out for third and fourth place.

AKOTO: Isn't that great. Yeah.

ANDERSON: I've never had such scare. You are going to be a German because the Uruguayans with a fit knocked out your team Ghana. You were disappointed, weren't you?

AKOTO: Right. On this set, last week, I was a bag of nerves. And I was a wrecked man afterward. Uruguay, you know, they had done well. They had a great tournament, they showed the world, they showed the British, the English, frankly they didn't have a time here, what he can do. I think he has come off and carried Uruguay on his back and he's really pushed them to where they've gotten to, but you know, it is about time the Germans got put in their place.

ANDERSON: You know what, the Germans had a really good tournament. One dodgy game, basically, and the last, the semifinals they just couldn't pull it together at the end of the day. They caught everybody on the break. And when they did, they looked absolutely superb.

AKOTO: They did. They looked a great counter cutting team. You know, I thought that they give Spain much more of a run for their money. But you know, the Spanish, they set up and they took it to them. It wasn't a shortcoming of the Germans, they had just gotten beat fair and square.

ANDERSON: Sunday, big game, and then the whole shebang moves on because the Brazilians are picking up and running with it in 2014, of course.

AKOTO: In 2014, yes.

ANDERSON: Before we go, thank you for being here the last five weeks. It has been an absolute pleasure, Mr. Baff. You called for, or slightly suggested Brazil would be in this World Cup. I pulled Switzerland out of the CNN World Cup draw. I knew I wasn't going to make any money. What about your Golden Boot? Who was it?

AKOTO: It was Van Percy (ph) originally, and then it was the Uruguayan Varga (ph). Doug Miller might get it, but Mira Van Closer (ph) against the Uruguayans. Third place is usually a nothing game, but he'll be the one man who will be very up for it.

ANDERSON: Good point, I like Kevin.

AKOTO: He's got the record to go for it. So, you can see Germany come out all guns loaded (ph).

ANDERSON: And Tevez of Argentina, he sort of just run out of steam at the end.

AKOTO: They just got beat by a better team.


AKOTO: He played credible, good football. The Dutch are on a 25 game unbeaten streak. That is not to be sniffed at, you know. That is not a fluke. If you beat Brazil on that sort of run, you know, you've done well.

ANDERSON: There will be tears on Sunday, whoever wins, because that is it. Come back and see us.

AKOTO: I hope the Spanish do it.

ANDERSON: Good stuff, Baff. Thank you very much indeed. Your super fan, in the house, for the very last time. Another man who has been watching the World Cup closely is Leonardo DiCaprio, one our viewers, Terry, from Norway, spotted the Hollywood actor in the stands and wanted to know who he thought would take the cup home. So, I asked him.


I'm not-by the way, this is my first experience of with football. I took my god son, so I'm not an expert, at all. But Spain looked pretty great.


ANDERSON: Well, we didn't just talk about football. The full interview with Leonardo DiCaprio, join us on CONNECT THE WORLD, on Monday night. He is your "Connector of the Day". Tonight we will be right back with a special Friday montage of the best "Connectors" in the past month or so. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Right. If you are a regular viewer of this show, you'll know that each night, at this time we bring you an in-depth interview with your "Connector of the Day". These are people making waves in news, entertainment, politics, philanthropy, just about every field of interest. And tonight, we wanted to get you caught up in some of our most popular guests from this part of the show, from the past few months. Take a look at this.


ANDERSON: Recognize this iconic entrance. All this is celeb central, otherwise known as Claridges Hotel in Central London. I'm here to interview one of our "Connectors of the Day", Diana Von Furstenberg. CTDs as we know them here, are the influential and entertaining guests that I have on my show, every night. And the questions come from not just me, but from you. Let's find out what Ms. Furstenberg has to say.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG: The wrap dress just happened. You know, it is one of those things that happens. Did I know that it would appeal to so many generations and that-no. Of course, I didn't.

ANDERSON: Diane Von Furstenberg, what a pleasure. And she is just one of the celebs you'll see in this special program celebrating our "Connectors of the Day". So, in part one, lots more stars from the world of entertainment.


ANDERSON: Guys, do you still get on as well, with each other?

BLACK EYED PEAS: Amazingly, amazingly, I swear we are closer now than we have ever been.

ANDERSON: What do you miss most from the `80s?

BOY GEORGE: Nothing!

ANDERSON: You said you'll be celibate on your next birthday, is that right?

HUGH HEFNER: I will definitely not be celibate. No, I will be celebrating.

ANDERSON: Talk to me about the film, "Invictus". What is the great Nelson Mandela (ph) think of the movie?

MORGAN FREEMAN: We screened it for him in Johannesburg and he was sitting on my left watching the movie and I was watching him out of the corner of my eye. But when I came on screen, first time, he leaned over to me and said, I know that fellow.



Ann Marie, from Nigeria, says she wants to know which movie you loved the most amongst those that you directed.

JAMES CAMERON: Oh, you know, anyone with children knows that you can't answer that question. You can't say which child you loved more than the others.

ANDERSON: How do you think you have been able to appeal to audiences across generations, because it is that, at this point, isn't it?

KISS: If you appeal the eyes and you have the tunes that connect, then it is a full body experience. We want to be inside of you, outside of you. We want to envelope you. We want to change this world into planet KISS. Oh, I'm sorry we already own the trademark.


ANDERSON: I just can't get enough of these. Diane Von Furstenberg designed rooms at Claridges, so I decided to stay for just a little bit.

Now, what you just saw were some of the best moments from our "Connector of the Day" series. But not every interview is as smooth sailing as those. Take a look at what happened when I met L.L. Cool J after what was an unplanned visit to the dentist.


ANDERSON: I have a few viewer questions. Damian has written to us. He says, how would you feel about a-let me start that again, because I'm struggling to speak here.

L.L. COOL J: You know?

ANDERSON: Oh, come back all is forgiven.

COOL J: Rhinestone cowboy.


ANDERSON: All right. Let me try that again.

(voice over): In the world of celebrity the brighter your star shines, the bigger your entourage is, and the longer you keep people like us waiting.

EMMA VAUGHN, PRODUCER: It is delayed right now, but we are still hoping it can go smoothly and we can have both her and Cyndi Lauper, together, talking about Mac, talking about music. Fingers crossed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, good to see you. Hi.

ANDERSON: Lady Gaga do you feel a burden of responsibility to how you have influenced a generation of girls.

LADY GAGA: It is not a burden. Right? It is not at all a burden, it is a privilege and I am so blessed that I am here. I am absolutely not one of those people that I'm sort of this self obsessed masturbatorial (sic) artists that doesn't care about my fans.

ANDERSON: Welcome back. You joined us here in what we call the gallery, surrounded by these screens and flashing lights that our stock in trade. This technology helps us bring you a massive amount of interviews from around the world. And sometimes, just sometimes it is worth having a little distance from the interviewee.

OLIVER STONE: All my life, again and again, going on again. And then you talk about fair and balance, fair and balance. Well it is your fair and balance, it is not their fair and balance. You guys want to drag it down into this place were it becomes a debate, and you nit pick, and you nit pick, but you miss the big picture. And that is what I am trying to say. There is a bigger picture than all the nit picking.

ANDERSON: Mr. Oliver Stone, just one of the politicized and controversial guests that we brought you as a "Connector of the Day." Take a look at some of the others.

(voice over): Our "Connector" Saif Gadhafi, is the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He was in the headlines last year, after he was pictured embracing Abdul Barry Al Magahi (ph), the man convicted in the Lockerby bombing that claimed 270 lives in 1988. Terminally ill, Al Magahi was freed from a Scottish prison and sent home to a hero's welcome in Libya. I asked Saif about his controversial public show of support for the man.

SAIF GADHAFI: I think he is innocent. Second, one day the whole world will discover the truth about Lockerby. Third, he is a very sick man, has cancer. And he is really very serious condition. And so it was really immoral for the people to be unhappy with me. And unhappy with his return to Libya.

ANDERSON: Was his release linked to a trade deal?

GADHAFI: I mentioned this many times before. There is not direct link. And the decision was based on compassionate reasons. People who try to manipulate my statements and the words in order to use that for their political fight here in London.

ANDERSON: He is regarded as one of the most opinionated people in Hollywood. And has recently taken to attacking capitalism and the health care system, in the U.S. Our "Connector" Michael Moore, told me exactly what kind of job he'd want in the Obama office.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILM DIRECTOR: I'd have to be paid, $1 a year. What I would do is, I'd get up every morning, I would have a whistle around my neck, I'd get him out of bed, we'd do 100 jumping jacks, do some pushups.

And then we'd run up to Capitol Hill and we'd knock some heads. You know, we'd get some fight in him. Get some fight in him and the Democrats. This is disgusting to have to watch this happen over and over again, where the other side has the courage of their convictions and fights to the death to get what they want. And our side is all, well, I guess we don't have to cover everybody. We don't need universal health care. I guess, I guess, 70 percent of the people is OK.

You know, Jeeze what if Abraham Lincoln had that attitude? We only need to release 70 percent of the slaves to freedom. Or, we only need to give 70 percent of the women the vote.

ANDERSON: For many years, Alistair Campbell was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's key aide. Out spoken and occasionally a little indiscrete. He gave us the low down on Blair's love of the glitz and the glam.

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: I think Tony was sometimes, he used to be slightly jealous of the lifestyles that rock stars could lead. Once you are in politics there is just quite a lot of sacrifices you have to make about the things you can and can't do.

ANDERSON: Do you think there would have been different results in the election, if Blair was in for the Labour Party, in 2010, and not Brown?

CAMPBELL: I certainly think that Tony, at his best, and Tony, in his prime, he would have destroyed David Cameron. I've got no doubt about that at all. But of course-

ANDERSON: Is he past his prime now?

CAMPBELL: Well, it is not a question of being past his prime it is he had done it for so long. And he wasn't going to be there. I mean, he said in 2005 it was his last election. So therefore it is one of those interesting hypotheticals.


ANDERSON: Closing out a montage of some of our "Connectors of the Day" over the past month or so. On Monday we will bring you a brand new guest. One of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Leonardo DiCaprio stole the hearts of millions in the epic romance film "Titanic". He has also worked with some of the most famous directors in the world. And he picked up quiet a few awards along the way. He's answering you questions. It is your part of the show. Do remember that. Head to the Web site to get involved in our "Connector of the Day" segment. It is We'll be right back tonight. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Countdown to the final, in your "World In Pictures" this evening. Stilt walkers join a colorful World Cup celebration party on the streets of Durbin as we go through the lens for you this evening. The tournament is not over yet. But these dancers are thanking everyone who has help make it such a success.

Well, here Columbian pop star, Shakira, meets children in Soweto to find out how the tournament is improving their lives.

The Golden Ball, it is going to be given to the competition's best player. Could it be David Vier, or maybe Wesley Schneider?

A lot being said this year's super light World Cup ball. At 80 kilos, check this one out. It is big enough for an elephant to kick about. The kind of dance you will find in your world of pictures this evening.

And finally tonight, we have a quick update on sidekick animal predictions on the World Cup, on the final on Sunday. Yesterday we told you about Paul the German octopus, who has correctly predicted the outcome of every World Cup match played by his country. Well, now that Germany are out, Paul has picked Spain to beat Holland in the final.

Paul, though, is not the only clairvoyant out there making World Cup predictions from the world of creatures. Mani the Parakeet, is now competing for the title of preeminent animal psychic. His owner in Singapore says that Mani accurately predicted the winners in the four quarter final games. And unlike Paul the Octopus, Mani has chosen Holland to win Sunday's final. On Sunday we will learn who comes out tops, Spain or Holland, and just as importantly, Paul or Mani.

I'm Becky Anderson. That is your world connected this Friday. From the team here in London, it is a very good night. BACK STORY is up right after this very quick check of the headlines.