Return to Transcripts main page


American Billionaire Sponsors 9th Tier English Football Team; Foreign Ownership of Premier League Teams. Romanian Sex Traffickers Sentenced in Manchester Court; US Reaction to Egyptian Anti-Government Protests from State Department; Parting Shots of Bond-Like Car Remote Control; Tensions Escalate in Egypt; The Future of Sudan

Aired January 26, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Egypt cracks down on street protests, but the people won't be silenced. Just 24 hours ago, the government of Egypt told CNN their people have every right to protest. Not anymore. We'll go back to the government to find out why. Exclusive to CNN tonight, Sudan's foreign minister points to a peaceful secession vote as the reason why the United States should normalize relations with his country.

And a heartthrob and actor immortalized in wax -- Bollywood's Hrithik Roshan is your real Connector of the Day.

That's CNN in the next 60 minutes.

Well, Egypt now taking a hard line against anti-government protests. With new threats, mass arrests and a crackdown on gatherings haven't silenced the calls for change. Protesters demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak took to the streets of Cairo and other cities for a second straight day. But this time, riot police were ready, using water cannons, tear gas, and, at times, batons and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. The government says at least four people have been killed in the clashes between protesters in Suez and one policeman in Cairo. Hundreds of people have been arrested.

We're now hearing reports that protesters in Suez have set a government building on fire.

Let's get right to Ben Wedeman, who is in Cairo for you tonight -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. It does seem that -- that even though the government is trying to crack down on these protesters and this morning the interior ministry said no protests would be tolerated, they're growing. They're spreading. We're hearing from the city of Suez on the Suez Canal that protesters have almost taken over the entire city.

Here in Cairo, we've had sort of rolling protests around the city, starting from around noon. I'm hearing that one part of the -- of town, not far from here, that hundreds -- thousands of people are gathering, that the police have withdrawn from that area.

What I think we're beginning to see is that the state simply is incapable of -- or rather its security forces are dealing with the size, the breadth, the number of protesters who are keeping up this pressure on the government, continuing to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, let -- let's just make it clear, what -- what's the sort of classic profile of -- of the protesters on the street, if any, in Cairo, at the moment?

WEDEMAN: There is no profile and that's the thing that I was stunned by yesterday. You have middle aged couples coming out to join the demonstrations, students, office workers, factory workers, kids, women with babies in their arms, Christians, Muslims. It seems to be a very broad spectrum of Egyptian society, all of them with the same demand -- they want change. They want a new government. They're tired of the same thing year after year.

And I think that's what's shocked people. It's not a protest being led, for instance, by the biggest opposition bloc in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood. If anything, they were as stunned as everybody else by the size and the passion of these protests -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, stay with me.

I just want to get the viewers a couple more elements on this story.

It's clear the government's patience with the protesters has run out. But just yesterday, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman told us here at CNN that the demonstrators, quote, "have the right -- all the right in the world to say what they want."

Well, I spoke a bit ago with that spokesman, Hossam Zaki.

I asked him first why the government has now banned street demonstrations.


HOSSAM ZAKI, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: This is really a peculiar situation, because protests are not organized anymore and any country in the world, you -- when you have protests, you have due process to -- to follow, not just widespread movements throughout the streets where some people, who want to introduce chaos and/or any other action, can have a feast. This is not something that is conducive to law and order.

So the authorities are doing what they are requested and supposed to do.

ANDERSON: Which is using teargas, water cannon and other things, too.

ZAKI: Many countries in the world and in many cities, including in the West, tear gas and water cannon is used to disperse demonstrators when the situation cannot be controlled by any other means. This is not a...

ANDERSON: Yes, but yesterday you...

ZAKI: -- a unique situation.

ANDERSON: -- yesterday you said that this was very different from that which you've seen in Tunisia. You said that people were free to demonstrate.

ZAKI: Well, it is true that people are free to demonstrate when demonstrations are following due process and when demonstrations are peaceful. This is absolutely true. And it still holds.

ANDERSON: I wonder whether the...

ZAKI: And they should not become...

ANDERSON: -- I wonder whether the White House will be interested to see what you mean by due process. Earlier today, they expressed support for the universal rights of the Egyptian people, including the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Your government isn't respecting that, at the moment. And you -- and you're telling me they're not going to overturn the ban, are you?

ZAKI: Well, let me be clear, Becky. The responsibility of preserving law and order in -- in our country lies with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian authorities only. We do not accept any dictates from any other nation of the world or any other capital in this matter.

This being said, we do have now, a -- a history, albeit a recent history, for about six years now, of demonstrations being embraced by our political system as part of our democratic practice that is happening.

And this is not something that we are totally anulating (ph).

ANDERSON: We spoke to one of the leaders of an opposition group, Mohamed ElBaradei, yesterday on this show, who said that the reason that people have taken to the streets is that it is impossible -- and these were his words -- impossible to engage the government any other way. He said he's been trying to engage with the regime for over a year with demands for free and fair elections.

So, for example, if you were to cave to some of the protesters' demands, it would be that somebody like ElBaradei were to be able to stand in the election for president.

So will that happen?

ZAKI: Well, I want to tell you, Becky, that we have a political system. In order to engage in this political system, you have to play by the rules. If you want to change the rules, that is a completely different proposition.

From what I understand, the political system in -- in -- in our country, that is much more plural than any of the other neighboring countries in our region, and that is much more tolerant and much more free in many, many respects, has all the ability to absorb all those who oppose it.

ANDERSON: The voice of Hossam Zaki, who is the Egyptian foreign minister's spokesman, speaking to me earlier.

Well, the United States may not agree with the way that Egypt is handling the protests, but it is choosing its words carefully, as President Mubarak is a long time ally whose cooperation is critical, of course, on a -- a number of fronts.

Coming up this hour, we're going to get the United States' take on the political unrest from State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley.

For now, let's bring back Ben Wedeman in -- in Cairo -- Ben, your thoughts on what you just heard.

WEDEMAN: Well, it's interesting what Hossam is saying and he's right in one sense. Egypt, compared to many other countries in the Arab world, is far more freer. You have a very active, independent and party press. Traditionally, Egyptians have been able to express themselves in ways that people in Syria or Iraq under Saddam Hussein never could.

But there's also some other issues that he didn't mention. People have been protesting more in the last six years than they have before. But oftentimes, those protests are met by plainclothes policemen who beat the hell out of the protesters.

I've seen women demonstrators who were peacefully demonstrating in small groups being dragged by their hair down the street and sexually molested by the police. This has happened many times. We've also seen cases where people have been dragged out of cafes and beaten to death by the police.

That's one of the main complaints of Egyptians, is police brutality. And this seems to be endemic. You hear on a regular basis of people who go to the police station and end up dead.

So there are things that make Egypt unique in the Arab world, it's relative freedom. But you have police brutality. You have rampant corruption. The problems are real. At the same time, we -- we must credit Egypt for certain things, as I said, a free press, a society where people can express their grievances. But the government draws a very stark line. When you step over that line, your life can be in danger -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben -- Ben, what happens next?

WEDEMAN: That is the big question. Becky, everybody in Egypt was shocked by the size of the demonstrations yesterday. Everyone was expecting limited demonstrations, a tough police response. But what we saw was an outpouring of passion and of anger, of pent up frustration from decades being expressed in the streets.

And today, of course, as I mentioned before, the government is trying to crack down on it, but it doesn't seem to be able to put a stop to it. Nobody knows where it's going. And it would be a fool who predicts where it is going, because this situation is completely unpredictable -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman in Cairo, reporting from there.

Ben, we thank you for that.

Well, Tunisia's rebellion gave hope to many Egyptians that grassroots protests could eject a long time powerful leader. Well, now, some Tunisians, in turn, are getting inspiration from Egypt. Protesters in Tunis are keeping up daily demonstrations against the interim government there, demanding a total break with the ousted president's regime, while elsewhere in the country, demonstrators chanted slogans in support of Egypt's pro-democracy demands.

I spoke a short time ago with "The New York Times" reporter there in Tunis.

His name is David Kirkpatrick.

And I began by asking about the situation, as he sees it, on the ground.


DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: For the first time in about a week, teargas was back. Police and the army were firing shots into the air to calm protesters.

What's happening is over the last weekend, hundreds of people from the impoverished south drove to Tunis and set up a camp outside the prime minister's office, calling for the dissolution of the interim government that took over Tunisia after the ouster of the dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

And -- and there, in the -- in the courtyard outside the prime minister's office, they've been joined by hundreds and hundreds of locals from the capital, as well, who have brought them mattresses and made them meals. And that crowd, they're up all night because they're sleeping in the courtyard. And they're getting more and more tired and more and more exhausted and restless.

ANDERSON: When you talk about shaking up the government, what is it that the protesters want specifically? Who is it that they want and -- and are -- is there any sense that they're going to get it, at this point?

KIRKPATRICK: You know, we don't know how this is going to end.

The protesters say, look, we've ousted our dictator, we've had a revolution, why is it that all the same faces are still running our government?

Because the cabinet, the interim cabinet, is still dominated by members of the former ruling party. So the -- the people on the street justifiably say what gives us to believe that these guys are going to actually hold free and fair elections in six months?

We want them out, we want them all out right now.

Now, the ruling party and some of their allies in the recognized opposition say, you know, hold on a minute. After 23 years, 50 years, really, of one party rule, there's nobody else who can run the ship of state, who can steer us to free elections. Nobody else outside the ruling party has the necessary expertise.

So right now in Tunis, we've got a stand-off. The protesters aren't inclined to back down and the folks running the government aren't inclined to resign. I don't know who's going to give first.

ANDERSON: The story in Tunis for you today.

And you've seen what's going on in Egypt.

We're going to stay on this story today and in the coming days.

A crucial angle to explore is what Washington is doing about the unrest across the Arab world. A reminder that in just over 15 minutes' time, we'll be live at the State Department, speaking with their spokesman, P.J. Crowley. You won't want to miss that.

Well, ahead this hour here on CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, Sudan's future -- we're going to talk to the Sudanese foreign minister, as they count the votes in the South Sudan independence referendum.

Will one nation become two?

The new chief of the UN's nuclear watchdog has some pointed words for Tehran. Hear what he has to say about Iran's nuclear program.

And later this hour, our Connector of the Day today, Bollywood heartthrob, Hrithik Roshan muses on Saddam and answers your questions. It's your part of the show.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson in London and I'll be back in just under 60 seconds.


ANDERSON: Well, it was a vote that many feared would never happen, yet a referendum over whether to split the south of Sudan from the north passed peacefully. Observers say that it was free and fair.

So is it time for the world to embrace Sudan again?

Well, in a moment, I'm going to put that to the country's foreign minister.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD this hour.

Let's get you a look at some of the stories that we are following for you.

And calm is restored in Lebanon after a day of rage against the new Hezbollah-backed prime minister. These are scenes of yesterday's protests. And for his part, Najib Miqati is dismissing accusations that he'll bow to the will of Hezbollah and he's asking his critics to give him time to prove it.

Nic Robertson revisited the scene of yesterday's violence and tells us about Miqati's first moves as new prime minister.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where the rioting was taking place yesterday -- burning fires in the middle of the road. Today it's traffic, but yesterday, stone throwing youths facing off with the army. The army still here, present just off to the side of the road, waiting in case trouble erupts again.

But today it's a day where the politicians take the lead. Prime Minister Najib Miqati meeting with outgoing prime minister, Saad Hariri, trying to negotiate a political deal. Hariri's bloc still saying that they won't work with this new prime minister. And it's in the vacuum while he's trying to do that. It could take days, months, perhaps even longer for him to form that government and the scenes of violence that were witnessed here on Tuesday, that they could return. And that's why the army is just off to the side here, waiting to see what happens.


ANDERSON: Afghan President Hamid Karzai swore in his nation's new government today, ending a week long stand-off sparked by last year's controversial elections. Mr. Karzai wanted to delay opening parliament so that a special court that he had established could investigate claims of election fraud. Well, critics deemed the court unconstitutional and wanted it scrapped. Eventually, both sides reached a deal allowing prosecution of election-based criminal cases based on existing laws with no references to the special court.

The world's nuclear watchdog says Iran's nuclear ambitions remain unclear and is calling for greater cooperation from Tehran. Comments from International Atomic Energy Agency director general Yukiya Amano follow Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment during talks hosted by Turkey at the weekend. The agency is monitoring the country's nuclear program and in its most recent report found that Iran has a stockpile of more than 3,000 kilograms of low enriched uranium.


YUKIYA AMANO, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, IAEA: Iran is cooperating with us. And we can verify that they have declared their activities are sane and peaceful activities. But their cooperation is not sufficient. Therefore, we cannot confirm that all the activities of Iran are in peaceful purposes. This is the worry that we have.


ANDERSON: Well, the World Economic Forum at Davos is underway and the man who gave the opening address is still reeling from a terror attack on his country earlier this week.

Richard Quest has the latest from Switzerland.


RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: It was a somber and serious President Dmitry Medvedev, as you might have expected. He made it clear there was never any question of him canceling his visit to the World Economic Forum. "Russia knows its responsibility," he said, and if the terrorists had expected him to cancel, they were mistaken.

Even so, the bombing at the Moscow airport had cast a long shadow. It had shaken Russian society. And then President Medvedev went on to the meat and veg, if you like, of what he was here to talk about, to reassure international investors that the government in Moscow was committed to attracting international investors; no new taxes, stricter regulation, in some cases, less in others; and an environment that would foster economic growth, which he admitted globally was too low.

On the question of economic growth and what was to be done about it, here at Davos, they were also responding to last night's State of the Union Address by President Obama in Washington. The call for a freeze in spending, which also had to dovetail with the need for greater investment. And here, people are wondering just how President Obama is going to do just that, at a time when U.S. politics remains divided, a Congress that is unlikely to give the president his way, most people here were skeptical that anything will really get done in Washington ahead of the next presidential election.

Richard Quest, CNN, Davos.


ANDERSON: Prosecutors in Italy are widening their investigation into the sex scandal involving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Now, today, they asked permission to search the offices of a trusted Berlusconi aide. Prosecutors allege the prime minister had sex with an underage girl.

Well, Mr. Berlusconi lashed out at his accusers yesterday when he called a TV talk show.

Well, he accused the host of running a television brothel. The heated exchange ended after about two minutes, when Mr. Berlusconi apparently hung up.

We're just days away from the parliament results of Sudan's historic referendum. So coming up, I'm going to ask the country's foreign minister whether his government will respect the will of the people.

Plus, we're going to head to State Department to find out how the U.S. is responding to unrest in Egypt.


ANDERSON: Well, February the 7th -- that should be the day that we have the final results of the independent referendum for South Sudan. Now, vote counting is underway, with preliminary results to be announced Saturday in juba and next Wednesday in Khartoum. And by all indications, South Sudan will be poised to form a separate country.

Early numbers show 99 percent voted for independence, with most of the count in the South now completed.

The referendum, of course, is part of a 2005 peace agreement that helped end a two decade long war. The conflict pitted a government dominated by Arab Muslims in North Sudan against black Christians or animists in the South and left about two million people dead.

So what does all of this mean for Sudan's future?

Well, the foreign minister, Ali Karti, discussed that today in Washington with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with the Khartoum government receiving widespread praise for allowing the referendum.

Karti is pushing for improved US-Sudanese ties.

I talked to him about that a little earlier on.

This is what he said.


ALI KARTI, SUDAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Yes, you know, for the more than two decades, we -- we didn't have good relations with the U.S., according to so many differences. The latest was, you know, putting Sudan on the -- the list of countries harboring terrorism.

Unfortunately, due to that, many sanctions were put on the country and so many other problems arose between the two countries. This is a time for normalization and this is a time for more cooperation between the two countries.

ANDERSON: So what was the response from the US?

KARTI: Yes, from the U.S., more cooperation on our internal issues, like what is happening now in -- in the South and concluding the agreement and assisting the implementation and I think the end of, you know, making the referendum possible and accepting everything. And also, with regard to Darfur, we are looking, also, for more cooperation rather than a confrontation that was happening for some time before.

So we are now looking for cooperation on our internal issues and on the bilateral level.

ANDERSON: The South will control the oil assets and the North will control the pipelines.

How can the world be ensured that the transit of that critical commodity will be free and fair?

KARTI: As you rightly said, most of the oil is from the South. But the oil facilities are in the North.

We are trying to -- to break a deal, is how can we benefit from each other's, you know, resources.

ANDERSON: OK. And that deal hasn't been cut yet?

KARTI: Yes, not yet. Not yet.

ANDERSON: Let me just ask you about reports that if the South secedes, that it will join the ICC.

What does Bashir, who is sought by that court at present, think about that?

KARTI: Yes, yes, it is the right of the government of the South to decide on its own -- any issue that they think -- they deem is good for them, whether having relations with others or having, you know, membership in the ICC, it is their own decision.

But, you know, we can get together and work to do on those issues. And we are working, also, for cooperation in the international arena.

ANDERSON: We have seen protests in Tunisia, upheaval in Algeria, in - - in Egypt and in other parts of the region.

How concerned are you about a movement in your own country?

And is this something you discussed with the US?

KARTI: We have freedoms. We have parties. We have, you know, freedom of expression and everything. And -- and we have more than 50 papers in -- in the country. None of them is -- is related to -- to the -- to the government.

But the situation in Sudan, for me, is -- it's a -- it's different total from what is going on in the region.


ANDERSON: The foreign minister of Sudan, speaking to you exclusively tonight here on CNN from Washington.

Well, next up, we're going to revisit our top story, the unrest in the Arab world. We're going to hear from a U.S. State Department spokesman on the Obama administration's reaction to the crisis and the very fine line that it must now walk.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Welcome back. It's just after half past nine in London. You're with CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, it's one of America's closest allies in the Middle East, so how is the US reacting to the protest in Egypt. I'm going to speak to the State Department's spokesman PJ Crowley.

Plus, Mr. Rich comes to the rescue. Yes, that really is the name of this American billionaire. But just why has he taken a struggling British football team under his wing?

And he is the undoubted heartthrob of Bollywood. Now, one of India's biggest stars is answering your questions. Hrithik Roshan is your CONNECTOR OF THE DAY.

All that coming up in the next 30 minutes here on CNN. First at this point, get you a very quick check of the headlines.

A second day of clashes in Egypt. These pictures from Suez, where reports say at least 27 people have been injured. Police in Cairo used tear gas, a water cannon, and batons to break up the crowds, dragging some demonstrators away.

More anti-government protests in Tunisia. Riot police teargassed demonstrators in the main government quarter in the capital city of Tunis. Officials have issued an international arrest warrant for ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head in that horrifying attack this month continues to improve. Gabrielle Giffords has been moved to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston. Doctors have upgraded her condition from serious to good.

And no Rafa slam for the world's top-ranked tennis player. A hobbled Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday. Nadal had sought to hold all four major titles at the same time.

And blue chips closed just shy of the 12,000 mark on Wall Street after passing the milestone earlier in the day. For the day end, the Dow Industrial gained eight points to finish at 11,985. That is the highest close for the Dow since June of 2008.

Well, a US billionaire suitably named Robert Rich is plowing some of his fortune into a British football team. But he hasn't gone for a Premier League side. No, in fact, Mr. Rich has chosen an unfashionable, unsuccessful, and under-funded club from northeast England. Alex Thomas has got the story for you.


ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Rich, Jr. turned 70 this week and celebrated thousands of miles from home. The US billionaire was visiting Bedlington Terriers, an amateur football club languishing in the 9th tier of English football.

ROBERT RICH, US BILLIONAIRE: Along the way, we found out that I had an ancestor who was a Lord of Bedlington. So, my wife said, "Well, why don't we secure that title for you." And I didn't know you could do that.

And she did for it -- she got me the title of Lord Bedlington for Christmas last year. And then I figured, well, I'd better act lordly.

THOMAS (voice-over): Rich is among the world's wealthiest businessmen. But compared to the mega-rich foreign owners in England's Premier League, his spending at Bedlington is far more modest. The biggest outlay so far, a $30,000 scoreboard, arriving in May.

RICH: We've made it clear we're not taking any equity in the team, we're not buying the club. We're here as sponsors. And as we got to know these guys and found out what they were doing, we learned a lot about the area and how -- and that this team had been under-capitalized and had real financial issues and could use all the help we could give them.


THOMAS (voice-over): The club almost went out of business a few years ago. None of the players are full-time footballers and only get paid expenses, and the ground isn't good enough to allow them to move up a division, even if they win their league.

DAVE HOLMES, BEDLINGTON TERRIERS CHAIRMAN: Every day is a struggle. You're always worrying where you're going to get your next bit of money in to pay the next bill that comes through door, and that's the reality of what we are. There isn't any money in football at this level. It's just done for the love of it.

THOMAS (on camera): This is a real David versus Goliath clash, only a lot friendlier. Bedlington Terriers' average crowd is around 120 people, whereas one of Bob Rich's minor league baseball teams encouraged a million customers through the turnstiles each season for six years.

RICH: We'll help Bedlington wherever they want to go, and we'll -- we like these people, we know what they're up against, we relate to sports, and it's just been a nice, new friendship.

THOMAS (voice-over): The people who run Bedlington Terriers call themselves volunteers, and they're still pinching one another over the arrival of Bob Rich, even if he's not about to turn them all into millionaires. Nonetheless, they're more confident about the club's footballing future thanks to their American sponsor's money and expert business advice.

HOLMES: It's surreal, actually. It just -- I say to the guys on the team, we're on a journey here. We're on a ride. Just hold on tight and see where we're going. Who knows?

THOMAS (voice-over): Alex Thomas, CNN, Bedlington, northeast England.


ANDERSON: I love a good news story. "World Sport's" Pedro Pinto joins me. Now, how beneficial will support like this be for a club like -- what is it? Bedlington Terriers?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You've got to love the name as well, don't you?

ANDERSON: It's fabulous.

PINTO: The fact that the family went back --


PINTO: Traced the family tree to Bedlington. Look. I think what Mr. Rich is going to do is, as we heard, he's going to buy a new scoreboard, he's going to help them build a new stand so they can move up another division if they get promoted.

But the turnover at the Bedlington Terriers per year is 127,000 pounds. OK, that's it. That's how much they -- money they make. He is worth $2 billion. So you just have an idea of the discrepancy there.

Their nickname, which I love, is the Slumdog Millionaires. He's going to give them whatever they want. But I don't think he's going to come and say, "All right, I'm going to spend $20 million on this team."


PINTO: It's going to take a while for them to go up the rankings, as well.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about foreign investment. I mean, this is a fabulous story, but not everybody's sort of up for this foreign investment, sort of pining in for the English Premier League at the moment. Let's remind our viewers.

Of course, we know Bedlington Terriers aren't the first club to get some help from foreign businessmen. We have a plumply Premier League, as we know. Liverpool, one of England's most prestigious teams is in the hands of New England Sports Ventures, that company that also owns baseball's Boston Red Sox.

Liverpool's fierce rivals, Man United, also have owners from the US, American billionaire Malcolm Glazer took over the team, of course, in 2005.

Now, across town, Man City became the nouveau riche of world football when the massively wealthy Sheikh Mansour from the United Arab Emirates moved to buy the club in 2008.

Current league champion Chelsea's rise to power started in 2003, of course, when they were bought by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

PINTO: I like the roll of the "r" there.

ANDERSON: Oh, did you like that?

PINTO: Yes, I did.


PINTO: You got -- you had some cool graphics. I have some for you as well. I'm going to go with --

ANDERSON: Don't compete with me.

PINTO: No, I won't compete. I'll fall --


PINTO: Well, well behind you. But I'm going to give you some numbers, as well. Because 10 out of the 20 Premier League clubs are now foreign-owned.

You mentioned a couple of the Americans, there. And four teams are owned by Americans, Liverpool, Man United, Aston Villa, Sunderland.

Three have owners from Asia, that's Manchester City, Birmingham, and Blackburn.

One from Europe, that's Chelsea.

One from Africa, that's Fulham, Mohamed Al-Fayed, he's still Egyptian.

And one final one, Arsenal, actually have co-owners, one from the United States, one from Russia.

ANDERSON: So, what we're looking at is, effectively, the UN here.

PINTO: Yes, you are.

ANDERSON: The United Nations. All right.

PINTO: But it's a very different --

ANDERSON: In the Premier League.

PINTO: Yes. It's a very different model to other clubs in Europe.

ANDERSON: What sort of impact, though, has this had?

PINTO: Huge. On the field, huge. You mentioned Chelsea. When Roman took over -- I'm calling him Roman, I don't know why. It's not like I'm on first-name basis with him.


PINTO: But, anyway, Mr. Abramovich came in, and they won their first title in, like, half a century. Manchester City are now competing. Jack Walker at Blackburn, back in the early 90s, he gave Blackburn their first- ever title, and he bought it by getting guys in like Alan Shearer.

So, it has a huge impact, Becky. I personally don't like it that much, and that's why UEFA introducing financial fair play as well, because they want more of a level playing field, but I don't like it for someone to come in, say "Here's $500 million, let's go buy the best around." It's --

ANDERSON: But the Bedlington Terriers story is fabulous.

PINTO: Oh, that's great.

ANDERSON: You like that, yes?

PINTO: Yes, we love that.


PINTO: That's a great romantic story as well, isn't it?

ANDERSON: Maybe you'll be more respectful to Mr. Abramovich in the future.


PINTO: Yes, no more Roman.

ANDERSON: It sounded pretty good.

PINTO: And no more rolling "r's," either.


ANDERSON: Pedro Pinto for you, this super story this evening. Next up, we're going to revisit our top story, as we've been promising you.




ANDERSON: The unrest in the Arab world. We're going to hear from the US State Department spokesman on the Obama administration's reaction to the crisis here in Egypt. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Now, they preyed on some of Romania's most vulnerable women, promising work, a home, and a new life in England. Well, the reality was very different. Forced to work in brothels for 12 hours a day, the women were repeatedly raped, beaten, and threatened.

Well, today, the men who trafficked them into the sex trade were sentenced by a British judge. Dan Rivers has been following the story from Romania.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This case is, perhaps, one of the worst cases that greater Manchester police has ever had to deal with in the arena of sex trafficking and human trafficking. It involves a father and son team, Marius and Bogdan Nejloveanu, who ran their network like a family business. A business that involved smuggling members of their own family into the sex trade to work as prostitutes.

Now, finally, both men are behind bars and serving lengthy sentences. Sentences that are far longer than those that would have been served had they been tried here. The police here are hoping it will send a strong signal to other criminal gangs in Romania.

RIVERS (voice-over): This is the seedy underworld of Manchester's red-light district. The perfect scene for father and son Marius and Bogdan Nejloveanu to set up a horrendous vice ring. They came to the UK from Romania in 2006, and then brought in young, often mentally disturbed girls to work as prostitutes in massage parlors around the city.

The girls were, effectively, held prisoner by the men, according to court testimony. Forced to work in these brothels, all the while, subjected to horrendous abuse.

RIVERS (on camera): The authorities became concerned about the welfare of a Romanian woman working here at the Shangri-La massage parlor in the east of the city. She would later tell police that she came to the UK with a gang and, when she arrived, the gang told her that she owed them thousands of pounds. She'd have to pay it back by working as a prostitute.

RIVERS (voice-over): This is the desperately poor village in Romania where some of the girls grew up. Police say the men lured the girls into Britain promising them work and opportunities, something they could only dream of at home.

Detective Mike Sanderson spent months investigating the trafficking ring and says Marius and Bogdan targeted the most vulnerable imaginable. One grew up in one of Romania's notorious orphanages.

MIKE SANDERSON, DETECTIVE, GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE: They see an opportunity to earn money from these poor children, and they took that opportunity. I can only describe the exploitation of these girls as appalling. And not just that they've given the girls to other people to get exploited. They've actually raped and abused them themselves.

RIVERS (voice-over): Behind the walls of the massage parlors, the police say Marius and Bogdan had five girls and women and working 12 hours a day. The proceeds, and estimated $20,000 a month. Dissent was brutally punished, one girl beaten with this guitar until it smashed. Another, threatened with this knife held to her throat.

The men were arrested and held in prison awaiting trial after a social worker became suspicious, and the women were persuaded to give evidence against the father and son.

RIVERS (on camera): Even behind the walls of Strangeways Prison here in Manchester, the son, Marius Nejloveanu, continued to attempt to traffic women from Romania into the UK by making a series of phone calls abroad. But unbeknownst to him, the police were recording his conversations.


RIVERS (voice-over): In court, prosecutors played this conversation between Marius and his mother, who's not charged with any crime. He's attempting to bribe the women and stop them testifying against him.

MARIUS NEJLOVEANU, CONVICTED SEX TRAFFICKER (through translator): Tell them, you give them $300 to stay at your place. Yes. By Monday, we need to know for sure. OK, Mummy?

MARIUS NEJLOVEANU'S MOTHER: OK, by Monday, by this Monday?

RIVERS (voice-over): The mother of one of the victims was totally unaware her daughter was in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I couldn't tell you anything was wrong. All the time she was in England with Marius, she would laugh and say, "Mother, don't worry, everything is all right." She couldn't tell me more because he was with her all the time.

RIVERS (voice-over): Prosecutors say Marius and Bogdan Nejloveanu ran the trafficking operation like a family business, but their trade was brutal and horrific, luring the young, the disturbed, and the vulnerable from the streets of Romania, promising them jobs, love, and care but, instead, delivering into what police say were the clutches of a brutal sadist.

RIVERS (on camera): The policeman in charge of the investigation here was clearly delighted with the lengthy sentence that Marius Nejloveanu received, 21 years he hopes will send a strong signal to other criminal gangs, but the police readily acknowledge the scale of the problem here. It's estimated that one in eight victims of sex trafficking come from Romania. Dan Rivers, CNN, Bucharest.


ANDERSON: And stay tuned next week for details about a special year- long CNN initiative that focuses on the issue of modern-day slavery.

All right, back to our lead story tonight. Countries around the world watching closely the pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt, including one of its biggest allies, the United States. President Hosni Mubarak, the target of the protests, is an important US ally. His help is critical on a number of issues, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to fighting Islamic extremism.

So, his government receives more than a billion dollars each year in US aid. Well, last night in his State of the Union address, US president Barack Obama had this to say about the wave of public anger sweeping across the Middle East.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear. The United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.


ANDERSON: That's right, he did not mention Egypt by name at all. But today, the top US diplomat offered clarification.


HILLARY CLINTON, US SECRETARY OF STATE: Clearly the United States supports the aspirations of all people for greater freedom, for self- government, for the rights to express themselves, to associate and assemble, to be part of the full, inclusive functioning of their society.

And of course that includes the Egyptian people. I think that what the president said last night in the State of the Union applies not only to Tunisia, not only to Egypt, but to everyone.


ANDERSON: Well, last year, the Obama administration cut funding for project meant to promote democracy in Egypt. Yet, as we just heard, the administration says it does support democratic ideals for Egypt and, indeed, all nations.

Let's get some clarification on this, shall we? Let's bring in US Department spokesman, PJ Crowley in Washington. I just want to step back. Hillary Clinton yesterday actually saying that she thought Egypt was, and I quote, "stable." I'm wondering how the Secretary of State defines the word "stable" at this point.

PJ CROWLEY, US STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Well, they're not mutually exclusive. We want to see reform and we want to see Egypt evolve. We also want to see it happen in a a peaceful and democratic manner. The two are not in contradiction at all.

ANDERSON: There is no denying that Mubarak is an ally of the US. How concerned is Washington about the potential for a change in the administration in Egypt?

CROWLEY: Well, at some point in time, there's going to be a change in leadership in Egypt, just like there's a change in leadership in any country around the world. There's no question that Egypt has to open up greater opportunity for its people, for political reform, social reform, economic reform, we've long made that part of our ongoing dialogue with Egypt.

The real question is, how to do that? We want to see that happen in a way that doesn't add further instability to an already complex part of the world.

ANDERSON: I guess you wouldn't do it, with respect, by cutting funding for projects meant to promote democracy in Egypt. So why did the Obama administration do that, out of interest?

CROWLEY: We have invested significant amounts of money in democracy programs and trying to expand civil society, open up opportunities for free and independent media. We do that with Egypt, we do that with a number of countries around the world.

You mentioned Tunisia, we've had our assistant secretary, Jeff Feltman, there this week to kind of evaluate how we can now be helpful to Tunisia as it works through this transition. We are supporting this effort, and we're going to support reforms throughout the region.

That was the message that the secretary had when she made her recent speech in Doha, that ultimately the region has to transform itself.

ANDERSON: I guess the problem for people watching this might be that there is a sense from some that the US is sort of picking and choosing those that it decides to support or not, as it were. It'll make its voice very much heard around the world when it says that it supports demonstrations in Tehran, for example. And yet, with allies like Mubarak, perhaps a little hedging its bets, to a certain extent.

CROWLEY: No, I think as a broad aspiration, we want to see political, economic, and social reform in the Middle East, in North Africa. Now, in terms of how to best do that, you have to take this on a case-by-case basis. There were a combination of factors in Tunisia that propelled the Tunisian people to make the demands on the government that they have.

Egypt is a different set of circumstances. The Palestinian territory is a different set of circumstances. So, our aspiration is the same for the region but, as you look country by country, you've got to work in -- work through the indigenous forces that do exist and the capabilities that do exist country by country.

ANDERSON: Given what's going on at the moment, PJ, I wonder how far the US is prepared to go in support of the protest in the region. For example, will it go so far as to support the establishment of Islamist regimes, which is a possibility, certainly, in some of these countries, rather than secular ones, for example?

CROWLEY: Well, again, it's not for the United States to decide who will lead a particular country. We happen to have a view that, over time, as countries prosper and develop, they are likely to become more peaceful, they are likely to become more democratic. That is our view, and that's what we try to help encourage the indigenous processes through which a country can realize this potential.

ANDERSON: President Bush always talked of what he called -- and I remember him saying -- the "freedom agenda" across the region. A very public push for democratic change in the Middle East and across the Arab states. Does the Obama administration continue to support that? And then, come what may?

CROWLEY: Well, of course we support that. By the same token, we are looking less at the precise character of a government than is it an effective government? It's one of the reasons, say, with respect to the Palestinians, we're building up institutions of government as an -- as a government becomes more responsible, more responsive to its people, serving the needs of the people, fight corruption.

We think that, over time, as you raise the standards of living, as you raise the opportunity for people to have a meaningful participation in their government, the character will change. But we are trying to develop the capabilities and the capacity so that --


CROWLEY: These societies can evolve. And we think over time, they will become more representative and more democratic as they make this progress.

ANDERSON: It's sometimes said that the relationship with Egypt for the US is ofttimes seen through the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian issue which, of course, you've just brought up. I wonder, how does the US react to the publishing of the Palestine Papers by the TV network Al Jazeera and, indeed, "The Guardian" newspaper here?

CROWLEY: Well, we've had our own experience with this, as you know. We're not going to comment on confidential papers. We can't vouch for the authenticity of what has been contained in some of these papers that have been released. It doesn't change our fundamental understanding of what's happening in the region.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of our overall pursuit of comprehensive Middle East peace. Egypt is a significant player in this. They long ago made their own -- established their own peace with Israel. We think that's very, very important. Jordan has followed suit, and we want to see normalized relations across the region.

But recognizing Egypt as an ally and an asset in terms of peace doesn't necessarily mean that we put reform to the side. We think that Egypt can do both. They can be a stabilizing influence in the region as they are, and they can continue to look at ways in which they need to respond to the need -- to the will of their people.

ANDERSON: PJ Crowley in Washington for you this evening. Sir, we appreciate your time. Thank you.

All right, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We're going to be right back after this short break.


ANDERSON: Well, just a word. If you were waiting for your scheduled Connector of the Day today, Hrithik Roshan, we're sorry, we couldn't bring him to you today because our interview with the US State Department spokesman, PJ Crowley, that you've just seen there got delayed. Apologies for that. We will bring you that interview at a later date, as soon as possible.

Tomorrow's Connector takes us behind the scenes of "The King's Speech," the film about a stammering British monarch has been nominated for 12 Oscars. Producer Ian Canning will be here to talk about making the movie and why fans have fallen for the film.

Head to to find out all about the upcoming Connectors. Remember, it is your part of the show, so do send us your questions, and do remember to tell us where you're writing in from.

Now, his religious ministries reach into more than 100 countries around the world. Joel Osteen and his wife join "Piers Morgan Tonight" for some spirited discussion. A best-selling author, Osteen is often called the preacher of the prosperity gospel. His views on wealth and other issues may just surprise you. European viewers can see that tomorrow before CONNECT THE WORLD. And if you can't wait, you can also catch it for hours from now. That's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

For tonight's Parting Shots, a couple of friends in China have achieved what James Bond fans could only dream of 13 years ago. Remember this? In "Tomorrow Never Dies," Bond returns to an underground garage to find the bad guys surrounding his BMW.

Well luckily, Q has knocked up a gadget so 007 can control his wheels with an Ericsson mobile phone. Bond becomes the ultimate backseat driver.

Now, two friends in China have come up with the real thing, a way of remotely controlling a BMW using a Nokia C7 SmartPhone. Apparently, they did it in just 20 days.

Well, a lot of you YouTube viewers have cried "fake!" But a spokesman for Nokia in Australia has reportedly confirmed the pair did work on the project. Great stuff.

I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected. Thanks for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.