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Zimbabwe Set To Swear In Mnangagwa As Interim Pres.; Flynn Move Could Signal Cooperation With Mueller Probe; Possible Explosion Detected In Hunt For Argentine Sub; Zimbabwe To Swear In Mnangagwa As Interim President; China Cracks Down On Dissent; Woman Raises Awareness About Modern Day Slavery. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 24, 2017 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:12] ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the man known as "The Crocodile" is set to take control. We'll go live to Zimbabwe, which is about to get its first new leader in 37 years. What could prove to be a major development in the Russia investigation, lawyers for Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor cut ties with the U.S. President's legal team. And the news families of a missing submarine crew did not want to hear. What this latest clue tells investigators. Hello, and thank you for joining us, I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

A historic day of change in Zimbabwe as Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in interim president within the next few hours. The so-called "Crocodile" has a reputation for political cunning after years as the number two under dictator Robert Mugabe. But the hopes of many Zimbabweans is that after 37 years of Mugabe, a new future is emerging. As is deposed leader, he and his wife have been granted immunity as part of his resignation. Well, CNN's David McKenzie joins me now live from Zimbabwe's capital. David, good to have you with us. Give me a sense of what the country feels like, the mood ahead of this historic moment for Zimbabwe.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, I think the entire country is just taking a deep breath. If you remember it's been just over two weeks since the armed personnel, carriers, and the military moved onto the streets and you had that 4:00 a.m. address from a man in uniform saying that their military had taken over and that they're getting rid of elements within the ruling party. That apparent coup has kicked off a series of extraordinary events here in Zimbabwe, culminating in the resignation of Robert Mugabe, the 93- year-old leader. You know, I keep on catching people including Emmerson Mnangagwa, the incoming president, saying President Mugabe and then correcting themselves, saying former President Mugabe, the politics in this country has been dominated by Robert Mugabe for all these decades.

And now, you have this moment of change that many people have been hoping for, but still, Isha, they are nervous somewhat quietly about the incoming president and whether he'll be something different or just more of the same, Isha.

SESAY: Yes. That is a question. And a thought on many people's minds. I must ask you, though, as we're a few hours ahead of these proceedings, do we know whether former President Robert Mugabe will be present at the swearing-in ceremony?

MCKENZIE: No, I'm not a betting man, but I have to say, Isha, I suspect he may be there. You would think that looking from the outside that he wouldn't, given the fact that the military had him under detention and then pushed in a new leader. But this is all being given the near of a constitutional transition by the military, by the incoming President. They keep wanting to put that narrative forward that this, in fact, has just been all kind of a normal democratic transition. And Mnangagwa himself says we're heading into a new democracy. You know, this is a lot of things. One thing that is not is a democratic transition.

This was the coup -- a coup from the military but that then was finalized by resignation and a possible impeachment. Yes, the old man, as he is called, may be there. A lot of regional leaders are expected to show up. This is a big moment for the continent of Africa, one of the liberation icons pushed off the scene, and a new person brought in charge through a series of events that a month ago or less, I guarantee you no one would have expected. Isha?

SESAY: Yes, I certainly agree with that. David McKenzie joining us there from Harare. David will be with us in the hours ahead. Appreciate it, David, thank you very much.

Well, Zenzele Ndebele is a journalist and activist joining me now from Zimbabwe. Thank you so much for being with us. Just being there to David McKenzie. I don't know whether you heard, he said, you know, he's not a betting man but he would assume that Robert Mugabe will be present at that swearing-in ceremony. We shall see whether that's the case. But last hour, I spoke to Eddie Cross, a member of the opposition, who told us that as far as he knew, Morgan Tsvangirai, the head of the opposition had not received an invitation to the swearing- in ceremony. What does that say to you?

[01:04:58] ZENZELE NDEBELE, JOURNALIST AND ACTIVIST: Well, I think it's -- people got excited a lot when Robert Mugabe left office and the opposition thought -- I mean, or forgot that this was not their fight, this was an internal fight between ZANU-PF, and ZANU-PF is not willing to share this (INAUDIBLE) this power with anyone else. And, well, I'm surprised if Morgan Tsvangirai did not get his invitation. From what I've got, he got the invitation very late and he was (INAUDIBLE) whether to attend or not. Because, I mean, it's very dicey for him to attend because it means that if he's attending, he's actually endorsing Emmerson Mnangagwa somehow who came into power via defecto or via a sanitized coup. So, it's -- it will be a -- you'll be walking on a thin line by actually attending and endorsing Emmerson Mnangagwa who is likely to be competing within the elections in the coming few months.

SESAY: So, let me be clear, you think it would be a political calculation for Morgan Tsvangirai not to attend because to be seen to be endorsing Emmerson Mnangagwa would be negative. Bear in mind, it seems just about the entire world has endorsed Emmerson Mnangagwa, at least, for a new chapter in Zimbabwe? NDEBELE: Yes, you (INAUDIBLE) actuated this whole thing started there was a talk of a transition government. That's when Emmerson Mnangagwa takes over power. He's going to form a government of unity with NDC and then have a quality government. That seems to be getting -- I mean, the slim chances of that if Emmerson Mnangagwa wins, the first thing that he did when he arrived, he went to his party, tended his (INAUDIBLE) he seems not to be warming up to the issue of (INAUDIBLE) government. Although his language talks about transition, he talks about democracy, he talks about the new era, but they are not just formal discussions that are going on between ZANU-PF and then the NDC.

So, by Morgan going there, basically would be saying, you know, this is the right time because what they've been fighting with Robert Mugabe since 2013, they are saying that they're cheating at the election (INAUDIBLE). So, and Mnangagwa, the thing that he wants right now is legitimacy within ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe and the international. And he knows well because I mean he's the military puppet much as Morgan Tsvangirai has been called as the puppet of the West. So, we now we have two puppets and they are trying to outdo each other and trying to contend to building a nation.

SESAY: So, with that, what does the future look like? I mean, if you have Emmerson Mnangagwa, as you made the point, going to ZANU-PF headquarters upon arrival, speaking to his supporters, trotting out ZANU-PF's slogans to his people, you hear them backing off talk of an inclusive transitional government. What does that point to in terms of the future for Zimbabwe and how he will lead the country and his efforts to rebuild it?

NDEBELE: They are saying that the fruit does not fall far away from the tree. I mean, what do we have the problem, the problem that we have in Zimbabwe is not just Mugabe. It's Mugabe and the ZANU-PF system that is set up (INAUDIBLE) for the last 37 years. Let's not forget that Mnangagwa (INAUDIBLE) by his henchmen for over 40 years. And that the guys who stopped the NDC from taking over in 2008, so he might be speaking right because he wants (INAUDIBLE) one's employment but his speech will be critical today.

I mean, one (INAUDIBLE) already we are hearing reports that, I mean, the soldiers ransacking the homes of the former ministers and then Jonathan Moyo, his family is in hiding so that they already bit of (INAUDIBLE) that is going on which is really bad and Emmerson Mnangagwa should stop this call to violence in Zimbabwe. If he wants to start a clean state -- slate, he needs to just support -- check responsibility for what he has done in the last 37 years. And make sure that the Zimbabweans are starting on fresh. I'm very cautious. I don't trust the men. And that will --

SESAY: Yes. No, you're clearly sounding a note of caution. And to that point, as you mentioned soldiers, what is your thought or what is your sense of what the army will do next, will they retreat completely from politics and go back to the barracks?

NDEBELE: Well, I'm sure after his inauguration, the army will retreat, go back to the barracks. But -- and the problem we have now is that the sitting president. My question is if Emmerson Mnangagwa is elected in at the eight months that he -- well, supposedly the election is (INAUDIBLE) August next year and he loses. Is the army going to accept that he has lost or they are going to still make sure that he goes to power at whatever means? So, we have a problem that we now have a very powerful military that can actually tell him what to do and not what to do.

So, how independent is he from the military. Is he his own men or he is just trying to consult, just -- I mean, he was (INAUDIBLE) and thanks to them he is in power today. So, he falls in a lot. And it's -- we now have the situation with the military that is very powerful and we need to start to asking ourselves, how do we make sure that we return fully to democratic and make sure the army does not intervene again in the (INAUDIBLE) they began to leave the politics.

SESAY: Yes. We're going to be listening very closely to that speech that Emmerson Mnangagwa will give when he becomes the interim President hours from now. Zenzele, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate your voice and hearing your perspective. Thank you.

And now to what could be a big development in the probe of Russian meddling in the U.S. President Elections. CNN has learned lawyers for fired national security adviser Michael Flynn have told other defense teams they can no longer communicate with them about the probe, that includes lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump and that could mean Flynn is now cooperating with the special counsel Robert Mueller or at least negotiating to do so. That story first broken by the New York Times. Let's send to Michael Genovese, he is professor of political science and director of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Michael, thank you for being with us once again.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, DIRECTOR FOR INSTITUTE FOR LEADERSHIP STUDIES, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: My pleasure.

SESAY: So, this is the development broken by the New York Times, it is significant. I want you to read along with me as I put up a pilot which is part of a quote from the New York Times article. And they say this, "The White House has said that neither Mr. Flynn nor other former aides have incriminating information to provide about Mr. Trump. He likes General Flynn personally but understands that they have their own part with the special counsel. A White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, said in an interview last month with the New York Times. I think he would be said for them as a friend and a former colleague if the process results in punishment or indictments, but to the extent that that happened that's beyond his control." That's an excerpt from The New York Times piece that broke the story about Flynn's changing legal position if you will.

What I found interesting from that quote as I read the piece is that the President's lawyer, Ty Cobb really trying to present President Trump as being hands off when it comes to the whole Flynn situation, essentially saying, let the investigation go where it is, he'd be sad if there are indictments but it is what it is, which directly contradicts what we know according to James Comey happened where he asked President -- where President Trump asked Comey to back off on the investigation of Michael Flynn, which kind of makes you wonder what's really going on behind the scenes.

GENOVESE: Well, it's clear that the President was overly intrusive early. Maybe he learned his lesson, maybe his attorney got him to get more disciplined and saying that you can't keep doing that because you're going to get to legal trouble. But you have to remember, Mueller is not going to make a deal with Flynn, unless Flynn has a story to tell. And it's not just that Michael Flynn had dealings with Turkey or Russia, you've got to see how that migrates over to Trump, team Trump, maybe Don, Jr. And so, Mueller is not going to bother to make some kind of a juicy deal if he has nothing to -- if Flynn has nothing to offer. So, the question is what does he have to offer? We know it's significant. Is it a blockbuster? That, we don't know.

SESAY: That, we don't know. Take a listen to what Page Pate had to say. He's a CNN Legal Analyst. And listen to his thoughts on this move by Flynn and possible next steps.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The President always has in his back pocket here in the United States the ability to issue a pardon before somebody is charged. So, if he's seriously concerned about it, and thinks there may be criminal exposure for somebody really close to him, he could go ahead and pardon Flynn before he's ever charged and before he cuts a deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, how would that look, though?

PATE: Oh, it would look awful, politically.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Wow. I mean, we all had already heard that, you know, the President obviously have within his powers, you know, granting a pardon. But even for this president who has shown a willingness to go where others haven't, who is not entirely preoccupied with optics, wouldn't that be a step too far in for President Trump to issue a pardon to Flynn ahead of any kind of indictment?

GENOVESE: Well, it's absolutely true that the President has virtually unlimited power to pardon. And as President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before he was even indicted with any criminal charges, that gives a really wide berth to a president to pardon virtually anyone for virtually anything, except impeachment. And so, what I think the Joe Arpaio pardon, for example, a few weeks ago was a clear signal to the people around Trump that if you get into too much trouble, I've got your back, I've got the pardon power. But I think the legal analyst is absolutely correct, the optics of that would be terrible and the politics of it would be terrible. Because remember, the Congress decides what is an impeachable offense and it doesn't have to be a legal violation. And the drumbeat for impeachment, if he starts pardoning too many people, is going to get deafening.

SESAY: But that word presuppose that his party, the Republicans, who currently control the House and the Senate, would be bothered by it so they could launch the -- GENOVESE: Well, being the -- right. But being the eternal optimist, I remember back in the Watergate era when the cumulative weight against Nixon got so overwhelming that the Republicans finally had to come on board and say enough is enough. They went to the White House and told the president, it's over. I don't know that that's going to happen now because it's a different partisan era.

[01:15:15] SESAY: Exactly. Exactly.

GENOVESE: But how many will it take -- we've got a midterm election coming up in '18. How many of those members of Congress want to stake their lives and their careers on the back of a horse that they don't like riding, Donald Trump? So, Trump is not invulnerable in such situations.

SESAY: We're staying with the President's Thanksgiving in the United States, it comes with its own traditions. Amongst them giving thanks and expressing gratitude. President Trump putting his own spin on things, making it would seem at least in his public statements more about receiving credit or taking credit. He had a number of things to do on Thanksgiving Day, which again, part of traditions for the President. One of which was to speak to troops abroad. He spoke to all five branches of the military via teleconference. Take a listen to some of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're doing well at home. The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high, unemployments the lowest it's been in 17 years. So, you're fighting for something real, you're fighting for something good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: I can't help but chuckle to hear the President trotting at the metrics, the data. (INAUDIBLE) used to laugh and really sound the alarm but these are fake numbers back in the days of Obama.

GENOVESE: Well, you know, it is Thanksgiving but we didn't know it was a day to give thanks to Donald Trump. But that's how he framed it. It started off as a very presidential act, thank all the troops for their great sacrifice and their service. It quickly degenerated or deteriorated into a thank me, come on, thank me. It was my doing. I've done all these great things. Everything is going in the right direction, everything is great. Why aren't you thanking me enough?

And so, you saw the weakness in Donald Trump's psyche and his personality that the need for approval, the need to liked, the need to be given credit is almost pathological, and that's a danger for him and it's a danger for the political system because as we saw in his trip to Asia, you're -- the Asian leaders knew that they could play him by flattering him. And so, they went overboard flattering him, and he thought everything is great here, they like me, and I like them. Well, you can be hoodwinked if that's -- if that's a great (INAUDIBLE)

SESAY: In some of the historical perspective though, have we ever seen the President like this, with the need -- I mean, all presidents want to be credited, though.

GENOVESE: Right.

SESAY: I mean, where does he stand in the pantheon, though?

GENOVESE: Well, most Presidents want to be thanked politically. He needs to be thanked personally. It's about the inner Donald Trump, the inner child if you will. And we've had some presidents like that. Richard Nixon had that. But most presidents want the political credit, Donald Trump wants the personal credit. It's about me.

SESAY: I want to play one more clip from the teleconference. Again, he continues to talk about me. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The fight against ISIS, it's coming our way. It's coming our way. Big, big difference, lot of things have happened. They say we've made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration, and that's because I'm letting you do your job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Big, big difference. A lot of things have happened, which would suggest he is the big, big difference in all of this. Again, you heard what the President said there. Fact-check it for us.

GENOVESE: Well, there's a tremendous amount of progress being made in the final 18 months of the Obama administration. In part because ISIS expanded and then we did the contraction. And it was contracting and contracting, and Donald Trump took over at a time when ISIS was in retreat. Yes, he pushed the troops further, he told him that he had some different operating procedures. And give him some credit for that. But he inherited a situation that was moving along beautifully. We were -- we had ISIS on the run, we still have them on the run. Give him credit for that but also give his predecessor some credit which he's incapable of doing.

SESAY: And I want to -- a final question to you on that, what is the reflective need to jab President Obama? I mean, whether it was when he's partnering the Turkeys or in his comments today implicitly, there's a constant need to reach back and jab his predecessor?

GENOVESE: He is absolutely obsessed with Barack Obama.

SESAY: And is that personal or political?

GENOVESE: I think it's not political so much as it's personal. I think a lot of it stems from the very, very difficult time Donald Trump had with the White House correspondents that when --

SESAY: Still, are we still talking about that dinner?

GENOVESE: I'm not talking about --

SESAY: No. No, but --

GENOVESE: Acceptance apart, Donald Trump seems to be obsessed with that, that he was humiliated by that, and he's going to show him. And I think, again, he takes things very personally. He didn't take that as a night of jokes and fun, he took that as a stab at his very being. And so, I think those things really do matter to him, he doesn't forget.

[01:20:13] SESAY: Yes, I find it remarkable. The reason that was my reaction was, you know, it was a dinner years ago, and it keeps coming up from credible voices that say it still matters to President Trump, what happened that night.

GENOVESE: To him, yes.

SESAY: Remarkable. Michael Genovese, always a pleasure.

GENOVESE: Thank you so much.

SESAY: Thank you. Thank you for spending time with me on this Thanksgiving.

GENOVESE: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

SESAY: Happy Thanksgiving. All right. Quick break here. Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., the families of a missing submarine crew grow desperate. The new clue that might change the search for the ship ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: In Argentina, hope is dwindling for the 44 crew members aboard a missing submarine. The Navy says an explosion may have detected near -- may have been detected, rather, near the ship's last known location. A dozen countries have looked for the ARA San Juan since it vanished more than a week ago. Search efforts are still ongoing but family members of the crew, well, they are faring the worst now. Many are devastated as you'd imagine. And some are lashing out at the Navy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: With so, so much anguish. Joining me now, CNN Contributor David Gallo with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Thank you so much for being with us, David. According to the Navy spokesman, a singular, short, violent, and non-nuclear event consistent with an explosion was registered aboard the submarine. What does that say to you about what might have happened to this vessel?

DAVID GALLO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, certainly, it may have met a very violent end and it must have been quite a large explosion because the sensors that picked up that sound were quite a ways away from it. There's a system of sensors around the world that listen to -- for nuclear weapons testing, but they also pick up every other sound in the ocean if they're loud enough. And so, it must -- it signifies a violent explosion. You can definitely tell the difference between an explosion and an earthquake and a volcanic eruption through this system.

SESAY: You know, we have that information on the one hand, but there is still this question of, you know, of oxygen. You know, obviously, we don't know if it was indeed an explosion, which is what it points to, and your expertise says that, that's what you're saying. There is still the question of survivors and anyone who is still aboard the vessel, the question of how much oxygen would have -- would have still exists at this point to sustain life.

[01:25:11] Obviously, the question is tempered by this discovery of an explosion but that aside, knowing what you know of the vessel, what is your sense of, you know,

oxygen capacity on the vessel?

GALLO: Yes. Isha, I think, well, this was a diesel-powered submarine so they had to be -- occasionally have to surface to recharge batteries and to take on oxygen. So, sadly, they're getting just past or getting close to the end. And this is one of the problems when we start to get speculations. The poor families, the devastation they're going because they hear different things. There is still hope, there's no hope. You know, what is the real -- they need a very clear answer about what was really going on, and it's painful.

SESAY: What do you make of the fact the submarine didn't send out a distress signal?

GALLO: Yes. You know, here we go again. This remind you of Malaysian Air Flight 370? Once again, we've got Neptune takes hold of a ship or in this case a submarine or a plane and then we're left trying to put the pieces together. So, you know, I think we need to put all the information on tables, someone needs to do that. And tell what is fact and what's not fact. Did they hear something or not, was there a signal or not? Did they see something in the satellite or not.

SESAY: I guess, my question is, again, you know, I've covered the stories of missing aircraft a great deal in my career but never the issue of a submarine, so I don't really know how they are -- how they are built and constructed, but I mean, do submarines not have mechanisms, sonar, so that you could detect them, whether or not that was being manned by an individual to like automatically send out a signal?

GALLO: They typically have a buoy that could be released, that would go up to the surface and signal distress. They have several different systems like that. But again, the environment has to be just right for you to be able to hear those systems. And, you know, we've looked at now -- we're told (INAUDIBLE) when I was at (INAUDIBLE) maybe half a dozen different submarines. The Scorpion and the Thresher from the U.S. to (INAUDIBLE) from a (INAUDIBLE) USSR and from World War II, many, many World War II subs. And, you know, it's not -- even the Scorpion, Thresher which are fairly recent at 1980s, their discovery was an ace. Not much record of any kind of a broadcast of SOS from those subs. So -- and you know, I think it means it can mean a catalclystic ending. So, you don't have time to do anything like that.

SESAY: OK. Which is a dreadful thought. And which the families are wrestling with. What -- for you, what's the principal challenge now for those involved in searching for this submarine in its location?

GALLO: Well -- yes, someone needs to be with the families and make sure that it's a very clear focus on who has the information and who doesn't and that pipeline because it needs the confidence of the families of those 44 lost souls right now. I don't like to give up hope. You know, I'm at the edge of giving up, you know, saying, oh, no, maybe that's, you know, being more optimistic than I should be but there needs to be a clear pathway. And then, I think at this point, they need to keep the air search, looking for debris from the sub, anything that might have floated from the surface, and then begin the underwater search. They've got a fairly small search area, fairly good location on the -- on the -- on the explosion. So, that needs to start or if it hasn't started already, they should be looking at the surface of the ocean, not the bottom of the ocean for that submarine.

SESAY: David Gallo, thank you for joining with us. This is a -- this is a very, very sad story. And unlike you, you know, we want to remain hopeful and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the missing 44. Thank you, David.

GALLO: Absolutely. Thank you.

SESAY: Quick break here. Ahead on NEWSROOM L.A., account of interrogations, intimidation, and torture, we'll look at China's alarming crackdown on dissent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:31:50] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM LIVE FROM LOS ANGELES. I'm Isha Sesay, the headlines this hour. Zimbabwe is expected to swear in, Emmerson Mnangagwa as interim President in the coming hours. He previously served as right-hand man to Robert Mugabe, the country's leader for the past 37 years. The Zimbabwe Herald newspaper says Mugabe may not attend to successor's inauguration.

CNN has learned the attorneys with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, are no longer sharing information with other defense teams in the Russia probe. That includes lawyers for President Donald Trump. The move could mean, Flynn is now cooperating with the special counsel's office.

Argentina's navy says a noise detected they're at the last known location over a missing submarine was consistent with an explosion. Family members of the crew were devastated by the news. 44 people were aboard the ARA San Juan when it last made contact more than a week ago.

Authorities in Papua New Guinea say they cleared more than 300 asylum seekers from a detention center on Manus Island. Some there say police destroyed their property and cut off food and water supplies. But officials say, they did not use force to end the three-week stand- off

Now, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer has been sentenced to two years in prison after confessing to inciting subversion. His one of hundreds of lawyers and activist that was is in the crackdown on dissent that began after Xi Jinping took power. CNN's Matt Rivers reports.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He looks tired on the cusp of defeat. Broadcast on state media, respected human rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, confesses to inciting subversion of state power. On Tuesday, the court sentenced him to two years in prison.

Half a world away, living in political asylum in California, his wife, Jin Bianling, watch in (INAUDIBLE). He must have been horribly tortured, she told CNN. Tortured because there is no way, Jin says, that his confession is real. He used to tell me if I ever admit to a crime like this, it means I've been tortured.

In custody for nearly a year now, Jiang Tianyong story is not unique in today's China. Activists say President Xi Jinping has overseen a campaign of increase oppression on human rights advocates. And those lawyers who represent them in court on cases that range from defending labor rights to religious freedom. Since July 2015, hundreds of lawyers and activist in the small tight-knit human rights community have been arrested, in what's become known as the largest such crackdown in decades.

Among those arrested, (INAUDIBLE), we met him in secret at the Beijing apartment. "They arrested me at midnight, before dawn," he says, "For me, this is kidnaped." Picked up on charges of "endangering State security", he says, he was held in a windowless room for nearly five months. No T.V., no books, no contact with the outside world. His guards in the room watching him 24 hours a day, including when he used the bathroom. "Daily interrogation sessions lasted hours," he said. He says he only confessed after he was threatened with being chained from the ceiling with a strobe light hung in front of his eyes.

[01:35:06] RIVERS: Famous Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, says he was held in similar conditions for 81 days in 2011. He details his experience in this music video. The Chinese government can hold people for up to six months and what activist called legalize black jails, completely cut-off from their families and lawyers. Activist argue that because these facilities exist outside the regular prison system, abuse and torture is more rampant.

We ask the Chinese government about the specific allegations in our story, but they did not reply to our request for comment. The government has regularly said in the past that it does not torture prisoners. Beijing maintains these activists are criminals dealt with under the law. One activist pointed us to one so-called black jail where he was held in the Southwestern City of Guilin. And to be honest, we didn't know what to expect when we were walking up here, but around here it is relatively quiet, that's an unassuming building, but it does belie what activists say because on inside.

The activist said he was kept here for weeks, with little sleep and no access to the outside world. And his family had no idea where he was. The government denied that this was a detention facility.

Four activists have been subjected this crackdown tube. Swedish human rights advocate Peter Dahlin, was held for three weeks in a different facility and says, he only confessed "inciting opposition to the government," after authorities targeted his Chinese girlfriend. Dahlin's confession was broadcast across China, just like Jiang Tianyong. Dahlin was let go after his video was released.

Jiang, however, remains in prison. In California with her young daughter, Jiang's wife, Jin, knows the reality of fighting for human rights and Xi Jinping's China. "It's so hard but there is no way out. I don't know how many more year sit will be before we can reunite. I have no idea how long this nightmare will continue." Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing.

[01:37:08] SESAY: Well, after the break, Zimbabwe stands on the precipice of a new era. The mood in the Capitol and lead up to historic change. All of that just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Well, Zimbabwe is scheduled to swear in its new President within the next few hours. A former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is taking over for Robert Mugabe, the dictator who ruled the country for the past three decades. Both men have a reputation for brutality but many Zimbabweans are hoping that Mugabe's departure portends a better future. The mood in the Capitol is one a celebration, as our Farai Sevenzo, so far stand.

[01:39:50] FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Highfields one of Harare's oldest townships. Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, the founding fathers of the ruling son lived here -- have lived here. Now it's the stronghold for Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition party, the movement for democratic change. And life here is about survival, the jobs are informal, mechanics, market women, barbers, and a great deal of unemployed (INAUDIBLE) has link.

Is now a traditionally opposition here in a Highfields. This is -- remember where Robert Mugabe's people did the Operation Murambatsvina, which means, "Clear Out the Dirt". And they raised people's houses on the pieces of the (INAUDIBLE) permission, but the aim really was to smash the newly formed movement, the democratic change opposition's support based, which is all over yet.

Maxwell is one of those who had his home destroyed in 2005.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAXWELL TANDARE, RESIDENT OF HIGHFIELDS: How is --

SEVENZO: The father of three used to be a bank manager. Now, he, like so many others has no job.

TANDARE: You live to somebody now. All these years, I've been looking debate when (INAUDIBLE), we're two degrees, but I've been like nothing to do, I'm looking it out.

SEVENZO: He is desperate for a chance to both could change, freely and fairly.

TANDARE: We must be (INAUDIBLE) Mnangagwa- Tsvangirai. They must come together, with together, bring the (INAUDIBLE) to election, we proof election to be done. If the election is mulled now, it's unfair.

SEVENZO: Unfair because people are so euphoric that right now incoming President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the edge. The boys at the barbershop are optimistic. In fact, Nashua, George, Myesa, and Arthur, can't even believe they are allowed to speak to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

SEVENZO: You say -- you say to it. You say -- you say -- you say in the Mugabe era. If they would be seen like this, they would have been beaten up for talking to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's only that people wanted change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it's the dad view that this will change because they want to change there.

TANDARE: You know what, ruling Zimbabwe (INAUDIBLE). It seems to be if they have been seen to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?

TANDARE: You just put it (INAUDIBLE), his old man. Then you --

SEVENZO: And then everything is back to normal?

TANDARE: Yes.

SEVENZO: These school girls say that they also believe that teacher is suddenly brighter with Robert Mugabe's departure. Still, is in areas like this, poor, ignored and proud. Where the real taste of change will be measured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have come to election, we choose a new (INAUDIBLE) and we'll make this grower. Yes, I think its OK, that's it. But the meantime I --

SEVENZO: Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Highfields, Harari.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, "CNN'S FREEDOM PROJECT" aims to shine a spotlight on modern day's slavery and give a voice to its victims. Our latest story profiles a woman once trapped in slavery for six years, now living as a free person in Nepal. She's climbing mountains, including Mount Everest to raise awareness about people still sold as slave each year around the world. Ravi Agrawal has her incredible story.

RAVI AGRAWAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Kanchi Maya Tamang is going home a hero. It's been seven long months away, and in that time, she conquered the greatest human challenge of all, she climbed Mount Everest. It's an unlikely turn around. Until just last year she says she was trapped in what is known as modern-day slavery.

She tells us, she was a maid for a rich Arab family in Cairo. She was exploited, she says, abuse, a prisoner. Tamang says she was never allowed to leave the house without minders. She even says her passport was confiscated. "When I raised concerns, they would say we could kill you and throw away your body, and no one would ever question us," she reckons.

The power dynamic was clear, she says she was enslaved and it lasts it for six years. Tamang tells CNN, she begged and pleaded that she needed to return home to see her ailing mother. As sometimes happens in these cases, her employees eventually relented and she was free.

Now, Tamang was a woman on a mission, she wanted to raised awareness about modern-day slavery to make sure, what happened to her didn't happen to others. "If you speak out normally, it's difficult to get attention," she says. "But when you speak out from the top of the world, people sit up and notice." And for Tamang, the top of the world was Mount Everest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANCHI MAYA TAMANG, TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR, NEPAL (through translator): After climbing Everest, I want to work towards the empowerment of women and children who are victims of human trafficking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:44 55] AGRAWAL: Nepal's government says they believe Tamang is the first survivor of modern day slavery to scale the world's tallest peak. And now, she is coming home. Sindhupalchowk District is a major hub of human trafficking in Nepal. Young girls from here are often lured to work as maids abroad. Tamang wants to stop that from happening.

"Women here are illiterate," she says. "They can't get jobs, there's susceptible to being trafficks, that's why I want to encourage them to join the mountaineering business." A massive earthquake in 2015 has made a bad situation worse. More than 3,500 people died in Tamang's district alone. Tens of thousands of their homes. Again, making them more vulnerable to jobs like the one Tamang escape from. This is Tamang's childhood school, here, her story is already a legend.

"We have to start raising awareness against this crime from the school level," she says, as the student listen intently. The school was on her way home all the way up the hill, Tamang stops again. Other schools news she was headed this way on the long journey home. Her story has spread, she wants the children to avoid her fate.

Finally, he makes it to her parents, an excited proud. They've gathered friends from around the village to welcome her. A traditional ritual, and then it's time to settle in. The family is poor, but Tamang hopes she will win supporters to fund her anti- slavery campaign. She's now planning to climb other top peaks with this message. "We are people, not property."

"I am a victim of modern day slavery," she says. "I want everyone who is in my situation to not feel defeated because together we can achieve big things in life." It's a tall order, but Tamang says, she can make a difference one mountain at a time. Ravi Agrawal, CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Well, this weekend in the United States, millions of people are celebrating Thanksgiving, it's a time when families get together to give thanks for what they have. It usually ends in endless food and desserts and fighting. Let's not forget the fighting at the Thanksgiving table. But it also marks the kickoff of the holiday movie season. Now, you may be too full for an extra sliced of pie but if you have room for an extra scoop of joy, then Disney's new animated film Coco could well be for you. It's the perfect treat.

Imagine you had an opportunity to meet your ancestors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is in the kingdom, you're already out there. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You talked to be warrant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I don't know.

SESAY: Disney's new animated film Coco tells the story of Miguel, an aspiring musician who travels to the land of the dead, to learn about his heritage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[01:50:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never underestimate the power of music. No one was going to hand me my future. It was up to me to reach for my dream. Grab it tight and make it come true.

ANTHONY GONZALES, VOICE OF MIGUEL, DISNEY-PIXAR'S NEW ANIMATED FILM, COCO: He has the passion for music and he doesn't let anyone stop him and he doesn't let anyone get in his way, and that's what I -- that's what I really look up too, and I think other kid while I look up too as well. Like if they have secret passion, they have to share it with the world just like Miguel does.

SESAY: He also connects with old loved ones and realizes family in link a swap post but also virtues to our future. BENJAMIN BRATT, VOICE OF ERNESTO DE LA CRUZ, COCO: Everyone comes from a family, we all come from somewhere. This film points out that you can pursue your dream and take off on a singular journey. And you don't have to abandon where is that you come from or who is that you belong to. They're in fact that if you keep those things close to you, it makes you a better person, a more complete person, and that's a lovely thought to have, especially in this time and age.

SESAY: And throughout its mystical storyline, Coco reminds us that every family around the world has a story to share.

GAEL GARCIA BERNAL, VOICE OF HECTOR, COCO: We can through this song, we can achieve that to that potential that anybody is allowed to tell the story of any other place. So, therefore, it is a triumph of a -- those migration, of interconnection, you know, of between people and this is what will only save us, you know, humanity, the only thing that was able to this connection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're your family Neho.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, let's look a one holiday movies are in so forth, with a one and only friend of the show, Sandro Monetti, he's a film and entertainment journalist and he has seen Coco. The reviews are incredible, do you like it?

SANDRO MONETTI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, love it. Yes, you know, it's joyful, it's fun. It's everything that Justice League is a -- this is a big two movies over Thanksgiving. Justice League is about as much fun as going for a root canal over dentist. Coco is just joyously entertaining the way through and finally, is the first of Pixar's 19 films to have a none white leads character. So, progress at last.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely. As they said, the reviews are great it --

MONETTI: 96 percent on rotten tomatoes.

SESAY: Indeed, tomatoes. Yes.

MONETTI: You say tomatoes, I say, rotten tomatoes.

SESAY: Yes, it is doing well. But, let's talk about the holiday Box Office more generally beyond Thanksgiving because basically, the studios need an optic. The numbers have been pretty risen so far this year.

Let's talk about suddenly the big one that everyone is, is referencing Star Wars, that's coming out on December 15. The same day, as an animated film called Ferdinand, Talks me about what we're hearing about Star Wars and just what to be in happening to the Box Office in general.

MONETTI: Hollywood is coming off its worst summer since 2006 and when you consider the ticket prices are so much higher over the last decade, and so, they really need to these holiday movie to be big. Star Wars, The Last Jedi, the last one episode seven, I open with 247 million. This one needs to do similar, it's got more to do than just to entertain. It could save the whole movie industry.

SESAY: Yes, wow.

MONETTI: That's how serious it is, the Box Office has been so bad in recent months, the people are saying, streaming has killed cinema, and you need this big event juggernaut movies to work. Every -- Justice League, you know, was a -- was a, a big sort of temple. But it disappointed people so much. And if we look other recent movies like Murder on the Orient Express.

SESAY: You can't even get the words out.

MONETTI: No, it was more like torture on the orient express, quite frankly.

SESAY: What was so bad about it? You've been bleeding on about it, how bad it was why? Why it would be so awful?

MONETTI: Because what happens is, the same with as Justice League, you've taken beloved characters, and you've made it boring. And so, this is what Star Wars cannot do. Ryan Johnson, the new writers directed to the franchise has such a huge challenge, here because, you know, it's got to be great. Otherwise, you know, he's destroyed people's dreams, we will love this stuff.

SESAY: But in are the fanboy number big enough to keep the film doing, well anyway. I mean, Star War who I'm referencing.

MONETTI: Well, yes, in terms of the opening weekend but you need repeat visit.

SESAY: But beyond that, yes.

MONETTI: You know, because a huge fan like me will go back and see it two, three, four times. And why not? You'd listen to an album over and over again. So, you'd -- what your favorite film, over and over again. And you'd only do that if you like it.

Justice League, there is a petition out today with 100,000 signatures, asking for re-edited version of film because it's so bad in the eyes of the law of the fans. But, yes, there's an economic mission play here that not just Star Wars last Jedi, all the other holiday movies have to deliver as well.

[01:55:01] SESAY: And -- so, Star Wars is going up against an animated film called Ferdinand.

MONETTI: Yes.

SESAY: And why would anyone put something up against Star Wars on that day?

MONETTI: Insanity? Yes, I mean, it's the worst marching play ever. Now, this is a twentieth-century Fox animation, they don't have the same huge Box Office record as Pixar, for example, when it comes to animated films. This one is about a pacifist bull who play himself self in bullfighting.

SESAY: Is that enough to moron?

MONETTI: But the challenges, it's not an I.P. that people know. This is an -- this is a new character, it's not like you putting out to a story full or something against Star Wars. So that throwing the bull under the bus.

SESAY: No, gosh, he didn't do it.

MONETTI: I didn't, I went there.

SESAY: The other big (INAUDIBLE) films coming out of the holiday season, Jumanji starring Dwayne Johnson, undoubtedly the hardest working man in the Hollywood right now, and the most likeable man in a Hollywood it would seem.

MONETTI: So, anyone can take a misstep. I mean, in the summer, this film Bay Watch was one of the flops. But if you analyzed Dwayne Johnson's Box Office, his scores really well with family audiences, Jumanji, a family film about a people who get sucked into a videogame and their avatars have to -- have to play.

Bay Watch was a bit too raunchy that his family -- fun based, but I think, he can be back with Jumanji. But --

SESAY: How long do they spend and good?

MONETTI: It's not going to get close to Star Wars but it has -- it has to do well.

SESAY: Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick, the hardest waking woman in Hollywood, young women.

MONETTI: Well, Pitch Perfect Three, I expect it will do very well. If you look at the trends we've had this year, it's a very female- centric year at the Box Office. The first, we had Beauty and the Beast, which is the number one film of the year, with 502 million Box Office domestic. And then, the second biggest film of the year is Wonder Woman, I'm not saying Pitch Perfect Three will be the third biggest hit of a year. But as a female-friendly female-centric, female empowerment movie, that's seems to be the message that is really connected with the audiences at the moment. So, I think it all do it well. Star Wars has picked up on this, the new Star Wars, of course, has a female lead that rigidly playing, right? And so, yes, there's nothing can stop that surely, unless it's garbage.

SESAY: We'll garbage, the garbage will stop it. Sandro Monetti, appreciate it, thank you.

MONETTI: May the full is be with you, happy Thanksgiving.

SESAY: Happy Thanksgiving. All right, you have been watching CNN NEWSROOM LIVE FROM LOS ANGELES, I'm Isha Sesay. Be sure to join us on Twitter @cnnnewsroomla for highlights and clip, for more of our show. The news continues now, with (INAUDIBLE), right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zimbabwe's first transition of power and independence, Robert Mugabe's successor will be sworn in --