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Trump Meets Intel Chiefs after Publicly Insulting Them; Future of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement; Venezuela's Self- Declared President Says Maduro Forces Tried to Enter Home of His Wife's Family; Defense Attorneys Present Their Closing Arguments in the Trial of El Chapo; Interview with Malcolm Beith, Author; Guaido: Maduro Forces Trying to Intimidate My Family; Trump Claims Intel Chiefs Were Misquoted; Refugee on Manus Island Wins Top Literary Prize. Aired 12m-1a ET
Aired February 1, 2019 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): "Out of context," "mischaracterized," "fake news," the U.S. president tries to rationalize the very public disagreement with his intelligence agencies and their view of the world and national security threats, claiming they're all now on the same page. Except they're not.
If the defense is to be believed, the drug lord, El Chapo, is just the fall guy and all of those witnesses cooperating with the prosecution, all lying to set him up. A Brooklyn jury will soon decide his fate.
And the book written by a refugee one text at a time, exposing the brutality of the harsh Australian immigration detention policy wins Australia's richest literary prize.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
VAUSE: Well, out of hiding and once again making headlines, Donald Trump made his first public appearance in six days, back on good terms with his intelligence chiefs -- or so he says, insisting there's no real disagreement between them because they were misquoted on security threats, like ISIS, Iran's nuclear program, North Korea and Russia's election interference.
On the border wall with Mexico, the president accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of playing games and insists any deal to fund the government would have to include billions of dollars for his wall.
And on North Korea, the president said he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the end of February. A source tells CNN that summit will be held in Vietnam. We have more on the president's very big day from CNN's Pamela Brown.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump is saying that he is back on the same page with his intelligence chiefs, claiming they told him they were misquoted and taken out of context, after contradicting the president earlier this week.
BROWN: Mr. President, did you talk to your intelligence chiefs today about the displeasure you had with their testimony to Congress?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did and they said that they were totally misquoted and they were totally -- it was taken out of context. So what I would do is, I would suggest that you call them. They said it was fake news.
BROWN: Well, we just ran exactly what they said to Congress.
TRUMP: Excuse me.
BROWN: But the intelligence chiefs were not misquoted, their testimony aired publicly.
DAN COATS, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.
We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities.
BROWN: President Trump taking exception Wednesday morning, expressing his displeasure with what they said, even calling them, quote, "naive" on Twitter.
That rift, for now, seems to be patched up and President Trump is digging in on his fight for a border wall.
TRUMP: I'm not saying this as a Republican. I'm not saying it as anything other than a fact stated. Without a wall, it just doesn't work.
BROWN: Calling out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while the bipartisan negotiations for funding border security continue.
TRUMP: If you go to Tijuana and you take down that wall, you will have so many people coming into our country that Nancy Pelosi will be begging for a wall. She will be begging for a wall.
BROWN: Trump responding to Pelosi's earlier declaration Thursday.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There's not going to be any wall money in the legislation.
BROWN: The powerful pair engaged in a back and forth, both defiant.
TRUMP: If there's no wall, it doesn't work. She's just playing games. So, if there's no wall, it doesn't work.
BROWN: The president already discounting the negotiations just two days in. White House officials say the president continues to make preparations for a national emergency order to get the wall built.
TRUMP: I'm not waiting for this committee. And I have told a lot of people I don't expect much coming out of the committee. I don't think they're going to make a deal. I see what's happening. They're all saying, oh, let's do this, but we're not giving one dime for the wall.
BROWN: And over 3,000 active-duty troops will be deployed to the southern border, in addition to the 2,300 troops already there, multiple defense officials tell CNN.
Some Republican leaders are also splitting with the president on foreign policy matters.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY.), MAJORITY LEADER: The threat that ISIS and Al Qaeda pose are global.
BROWN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's amendment calling for U.S. troops to stay in Syria passed today, an acknowledgement that ISIS continues to pose grave threats to the U.S., despite Trump claiming otherwise.
The president juggling another potentially grave threat, North Korea, hyping the much-anticipated second summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
TRUMP: For the meetings with North Korea, we're going to a certain location. I think most of you know where the location is. I don't think it's any great secret. But we will be --
TRUMP: -- announcing the location and the date, the exact date. It'll be at the end of February.
BROWN: Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: CNN's Paula Hancocks is live this hour in Seoul; also with us from Beijing is Steven Jiang.
Paula, first to you, the U.S. special envoy to North Korea has spoken publicly for the first time and says he Pyongyang promised the United States it would dismantle and destroy its plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities in return for a significant response from the United States, which would be this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN BIEGUN, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA: President Trump is ready to end this war. It is over. It is done. We are not going to invade North Korea. We are not seeking to topple the North Korean regime.
I am absolutely convinced and, more importantly, the president of the United States is convinced that it's time to move past 70 years of war and hostility in the Korean Peninsula. There's no reason for this conflict to persist any longer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So in other words, a formal end to the Korean War.
Is that the sort of outcome which we expected from the second U.S.- North Korea summit, which seems kind of at odds with the assessment that we're hearing from the U.S. intelligence community.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is something that North Korea wants. They want a peace treaty and also this formal declaration for the end of the Korean War. That's just a political statement, really. The peace treaty would be far more binding and far more time- consuming.
But this is the clearest indication yet from the Trump administration that they're willing to give that. Certainly that's some sort of concession that they're showing they could give at this summit that could well be something that we hear.
But you're right about the intelligence assessment. The fact that just this week we had intelligence assessments from the Director of National Intelligence, saying that it is unlikely that North Korea is going to give up its nuclear weapons.
Now this is something that, in the region and for those long-time North Korean watchers, everybody already knows that. I haven't met a single person that thinks that North Korea is going to give up its nuclear weapons.
But we're hearing a much more positive note from the Trump administration, most notably from the U.S. president. And there Stephen Biegun also saying that they have agreed that they will dismantle some of these issues.
But he says, the next time he meets them, he wants to find out exactly what these corresponding measures are that they want from the United States to be able to do that. He is coming here to Seoul this weekend to meet with his South Korean counterpart and, at some point, he'll be meeting with his North Korean counterpart to look at the next steps.
VAUSE: OK, Paula, thank you.
To Beijing now and Steven Jiang.
Steven, the reporting around the U.S.-China trade talks has been mostly managing expectations. There's not a lot of reason for optimism and, again, a very different assessment from the president of the United States, who seems to be very optimistic that there will be a significant trade deal at the end of these talks. STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: That's right. You are right about Mr. Trump's use of quite a bit of hyperbole, "tremendous progress," "beautiful letter from Mr. Xi," and "U.S.-China relations never been so advanced."
But despite that, the underlying issues and the overall situation really haven't changed much. But I think the important thing is the two sides have been addressing longstanding issues head-on in the past two days of talks.
That's pretty clear from the press releases from both sides afterwards. They ticked off all the right boxes: intellectual property protection, forced transfer of technologies, cyber theft and access to the Chinese market.
And the Chinese, probably in a gesture of goodwill, have also agreed to buy at least 5 million tons of American soybeans, which would make American farmers very happy.
Now I think that one big confirmation we got is this meeting between President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China later this month. There's no date announced just yet but people think it's going to be scheduled around that second U.S.-North Korea summit.
Now the meeting is important for the Chinese because many analysts think they want this meeting to happen because that would enable President Xi to present China's case in person.
I think they think this is going to produce a more favorable deal for China, considering how much the U.S. president, at least publicly, values his friendship with President Xi.
But for now, the important thing is the two sides have agreed to keep the momentum going, keep talking. A senior U.S. delegation is coming here very soon, probably after the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, to beat that March 1st deadline, which is still very much firmly in place, according to the White House.
VAUSE: At the moment, the way Donald Trump looks, it seems, there's reason for hope and optimism, whether it's in Beijing or whether it's in Seoul and Pyongyang.
And Steven and Paula, we thank you for being with us.
VAUSE: The U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo said, to make it official, the U.S. will no longer be part of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty with Russia. Critics though continue to warn it will leave the world a much more dangerous place. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports now from Moscow.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After more than 30 years, the U.S. is set to pull out of a milestone nuclear disarmament agreement. The treaty on Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF. Washington saying Russia is cheating.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We either bury our head in the sand or we take common sense actions in response to Russia's flagrant disregard for the expressed terms of the INF treaty.
PLEITGEN: And this is the missile system that the U.S. says violates the INF, the nuclear capable 9M729. Moscow denies the allegations and claims the U.S. is the one breaching the deal. Russia's army even putting on a briefing displaying the 9M729 system and claiming its range is within the limits of the INF
LT. GEN. MIKHAIL MATVEEVSKY, RUSSIAN ARMY (through translator): Russia has implemented and continues to meticulously implement the requirements of the treaty and does not allow for any violations to happen.
PLEITGEN: The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev aiming to eliminate land based medium ranged nukes. Today, both Russia and the U.S. view the treaty as largely obsolete because it constrains the two while non- signatories like China are free to field medium range nuclear weapons. Moscow claims it wants to try and turn the INF into a multilateral treaty to try to save it.
SERGEY RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We are open to different ideas how to move things further forward. We do not exclude anything before him.
PLEITGEN: Moscow says if the INF fails, it could lead to a new arms race and make the danger of nuclear conflict much higher almost three decades after the end of the Cold War -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.
VAUSE: Venezuela's self-declared leader says his family has been threatened by special forces loyal to the sitting president, Nicolas Maduro. It's the latest development in the power struggle between the two dueling presidents.
Guaido said on Thursday those forces tried to enter the home of his wife's family, all part of what he described as an intimidation game. Earlier Guaido had refused to rule out accepting U.S. military intervention in his power struggle with Maduro. And during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, he repeated his offer of amnesty for members of Venezuela's military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN GUAIDO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): We have decreed amnesty and guarantees of law to all citizens, officials and military that side with the constitution.
It's an incentive not only to the armed forces but also, for example, to the consular officials of the usurper, Maduro, who has asked them to leave their posts, and who, instead, remained in their posts, exercising their duties. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The U.S. says it has grave concerns over the alleged threat to Guaido's family and a senior administration official warned there would be consequences. Here's CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reporting from neighboring Colombia.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been a day in which the U.S. has again have tried to ratchet up the tension inside of Venezuela. It seems to be their game plan here to continue the drumbeat of rhetoric that the last days of Maduro upon Venezuela. How effective that's being, we simply don't know.
Today's key issue in point was an allegation from Juan Guaido, the opposition leader and now interim president self-declared. He's recognized by the U.S. and many other countries, including many of Venezuela's immediate neighbors.
He said the police special forces trying to go into his home where his daughter and his daughter's grandmother were in fact present. He said that was an intimidation tactic and he said while he was giving a speech elsewhere actually, university in Caracas.
We haven't seen pictures of police there. And the recount later seems to suggest there may have been in the neighborhood of his house rather than actually in it. A lot of it is unclear and Venezuelan police have denied, though, were there at all.
All the same, U.S. officials left forward and said this was intimidation tactic and they said that those behind it will be, quote, "held accountable" but they didn't quite say how that would happen. And they also went on to suggest they believe, quote, "last minute looting is happening inside of Venezuela."
Responding to reports, again, unconfirmed that gold (ph) maybe flown out of the country towards --
WALSH (voice-over): -- Russia or perhaps other vendors to try and get cash in to prop-up the Maduro government in this time of obvious financial and economic crisis, a crisis frankly brought upon them by their own mismanagement and intense corruption.
But we have to work out now exactly how the opposition Juan Guaido manages to bridge that gap between what the international community says he is which is the interim president, giving a lot of interviews. He's speaking to people who support him inside Venezuela through Twitter and what actually is happening inside the country.
Does he have any control over the leaves of power?
Has Maduro's grip on government loosen at all? It doesn't look like at this point. Guaido has said he's been talking
to military commanders who think they might want to defect. We have to wait and see how fast that happens if indeed happens at all.
And all eyes really are on Saturday and key protests in Caracas in which may be hundreds of thousands could be on the streets again, will that shift the dial at all in terms of military support for Maduro.
We heard from the national security advisor John Bolton that he hopes Maduro took a plane out of the country and enjoy a nice quite retirement on the beach far away from Venezuela. That's a lot about what happening anytime soon but the pressure from Washington continues to be piled on -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Bogota.
VAUSE: After 38 days of violence, drugs, bribery, a whole lot more. Tennis tourney is now over, closing arguments have been made and the case against Mexico's famous drug lord is getting to the jury.
VAUSE: The fate of the man considered to the world's biggest drug trafficker will soon be with a Brooklyn jury. After months of sensational and gruesome testimony, the jury is expected to begin deliberations in the case of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on Monday.
Thursday saw closing arguments and the defense slammed the government's case, saying it heavily relayed on Guzman's former associates who they called lifelong liars, looking for sweetheart deals in exchange for their made-up testimony. Our Polo Sandoval has more now on both sides of the case.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the last two months, jurors have listened to tales of bribes and bloodshed. Her testimony about notorious Sinaloa Cartel boss, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and saw a rare images of the drug lord with his diamond-encrusted pistol by his side.
Government witnesses testified how Guzman allegedly smuggled drugs through tunnels, cars, semi-submersible, even inside cans of chili and fake bananas. Details from his former associates now cooperating with the government, included explosive testimony from fellow Sinaloa Cartel member, Alex Cifuentes.
He testified about his former bosses bribes allegedly paid to Mexican officials. Cifuentes claimed Guzman once paid former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto a $100 million in October 2012 when he was president-elect. Pena Nieto's former chief of staff called the allegations false,
defamatory and absurd. Adding that it was Pena Nieto's administration who located, arrested and extradited Guzman to the United States for trial.
El Chapo's former I.T. expert, Christian Rodriguez whose photos shown here was obscured by prosecutors to hide his identity revealed how the cartel communicated through a system of encrypted phones.
He used spyware to capture conversations with members of Guzman's criminal organization. Guzman is facing multiple counts, including firearm and drug trafficking charges and faces life in prison.
Though the list of charges does not include murder, testimony took a graphic turn when Isaias Valdez was called to the stand. The former security guard turned pilot recalled when Guzman was involved in the gruesome murders of three rivals.
Former Colombian cartel lord Juan Carlos "La Chupeta" Ramirez also called to court testifying, he started working with El Chapo in the early '90s. Ramirez went on to work with Guzman for nearly 18 years and was eventually captured in 2007.
He was so hotly pursued by authorities that he underwent several --
SANDOVAL (voice-over): -- plastic surgeries to try to evade capture. Juan constant fixture in the courtroom has been Guzman's wife of more than 10 years, former beauty queen Emma Coronel.
Coronel helped her husband escape from a Mexican prison according to testimony that came from a former prison guard turned Chapo associate. She's not facing charges at this time and her lawyer had no comment about those allegations.
In their final move to convince jurors of Guzman's guilt, prosecutors showed images of the tunnel that provided his escape. A government expert described it as being just under a mile long complete with a motorcycle track set to have been used by El Chapo and an associate for the ride to freedom.
El Chapo's defense attorneys rested their case in under 40 minutes entering testimony from just two witnesses -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: Malcolm Beith joins us now from New York. He is the author of "The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord."
Malcolm, thanks for being with us. You have been closely following this incredible trial playing out there from Brooklyn. So we appreciate you being with us.
MALCOLM BEITH, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: OK. The argument from El Chapo's defense lawyer during closing, it seemed to come down to this: ignore all those cooperating witnesses, they're all lying. All 14 of them are making stuff up in return for leniency from prosecutors for their own criminal charges.
But, in the defense of El Chapo, he's just this fall guy. I'm not a lawyer but that argument seems really lame.
But given the case that the prosecutors have, is that defense pretty much the only one lawyers could make at this point?
BEITH: I do think it's the best case they could have made, was, you know, trying to prove some sort of reasonable doubt by claiming all of the actors in this theater, which is what it is at this point, the governments on both sides, U.S. and Mexico, law enforcement, corrupt, you know, that, through corruption, they have become the bad actors and Chapo Guzman is the only -- is just a pawn.
He is not the leader of the Sinaloa cartel; he is a member. And he is just getting tossed around by all of these other bad actors. It's a distraction. It's just one big distraction after another.
Of course, there is corruption in Mexico. There's corruption in this country. That doesn't change the fact that Chapo Guzman is guilty, as the government says, of being a leader of the Sinaloa cartel.
VAUSE: Well, you know, El Chapo doesn't actually need a good legal strategy to get out of prison. He just does it himself. He's managed two daring escapes in the past and it seems authorities actually thought there was a chance he might pull off a third.
They took this risk, you know, quite seriously. For example, the Brooklyn Bridge, that they would close it down in the morning, where he would travel from prison to courtroom, and presumably when he went back the other way.
BEITH: They did and security has been very tight throughout this trial. You know, two security entrances to get into the courtroom. There have been breaches. His wife walked in with a cell phone somehow.
It's worth noting also, something that I haven't brought to the public attention, but the Altiplano prison in Mexico, which -- from which Chapo Guzman escaped the last time, was cleared and given the OK by the American Correctional Association, which is the prison standard oversight commission in two or three years before he escaped.
This is part of our conditions of supporting the drug war in Mexico. So, you know, fears of an escape, look, he's probably not going to but you can't just rule it out. He has done it twice and was planning a third escape from Ciudad Juarez before he was extradited.
And you have the American Correctional Association at fault in some ways for clearing the prison in Mexico.
VAUSE: You're saying he got out of a prison that should be up to the same standard as the prisons in the United States.
VAUSE: -- good chance he could do it again. The government presented a mountain of evidence, which includes hundreds of recorded phone calls, which were played to the court. And you hear these high- ranking members of the cartel, including Guzman, they're talking openly and freely about the day-to-day business of smuggling drugs.
And that evidence came from their star witness, Christian Rodriguez, essentially El Chapo's I.T. guy?
BEITH: Yes, as "The New York Times" wrote, sort of joking, make friends with the I.T. guy. That's the moral. Of course it's not the moral. But it's --
VAUSE: It's a good point.
BEITH: -- when I was researching my book, "The Last Narco," I'm not a tech guy. But I was looking into the communications and thinking, wow, imagine what sort of technology he has.
And of course it was the tech guy who knows everything. And if you can flip the tech guy, I mean, what a movie that makes. I'd love to see the next drug movie to be about this tech guy. It's the future --
BEITH: -- just as it's the future of almost every sort of business. You need tech. And if you're an enemy or a critic of the NSA, for instance, start thinking about this. Look at how this will affect law enforcement.
There's clear proof in this case that wiretapping collaboration with nations who don't necessarily have the same wiretapping capabilities is highly useful.
VAUSE: Yes. And the thing about those recordings, they revealed this guy that was actually a pretty good business man at the end of the day.
We have jury deliberations expected to start Monday. The jurors have received, what, 60 pages of instructions, which is a lot.
Are you expecting a quick verdict here?
And whenever it comes, is there any chance, any way in the world, that it would not be a guilty verdict?
BEITH: I think it's going to take a couple of days. I'm no court expert but just the amount of time that you have to look through every count, every violation -- there are a lot of them.
And, you know, any good juror will sit there and go, we need to deliberate each and every one and be fair about this. I expect that of this jury. I don't think they're messing around.
So I think at least a day, a day and a half of actual -- you know, so give it Tuesday evening, Tuesday afternoon.
Will there be some resistance?
There will be, I'm sure, one or two questions and sort of holdouts on certain counts, on certain parts of the -- what's called a continuing criminal enterprise count, which is quite encompassing but the evidence is all there. It's going to be very hard to sit there and go, wait a second, he's not guilty.
VAUSE: Right. OK. Well, hopefully we can check in with you again next week and wrap all of this up, until he escapes, I guess, if that happens.
BEITH: I hope not.
VAUSE: Exactly. Thanks for coming in. Good to see you.
BEITH: Thank you very much.
In Paris, two elite police officers have been sentenced to seven years in prison for gangraping a Canadian tourist in 2014. The woman was reportedly on her visit to the capital when she met the two men at a pub who have actually pleaded their innocence in all of this.
But the victim told the court, the men took her on a tour of police headquarters, including a room where she was assaulted. During the trial the woman was questioned at length about her own sexual history. Ultimately, though, DNA evidence helped convict the two policemen.
Five years and one text at a time, a Kurdish asylum seeker writes an incredible account of life in Australian detention camps, winning not just critical acclaim but the country's richest literary prize.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update on the top news stories this hour.
Venezuela's self-declared president says forces loyal to his rival, the sitting President Nicolas Maduro, are now targeting his family. Juan Guaido said Thursday they tried to intimidate him by visiting the home of his wife's family. The officials said there will be consequences for the menacing behavior.
Donald Trump says his intelligence chiefs were misquoted and taken out of context when they contradicted him on the fall of ISIS, North Korea's nuclear intentions and all the other security threats. The only problem is their testimony aired live and their written assessments are public record.
Germany, France, and Britain have created a new payment system to sell food and medical supplies and doing business with Iran, while bypassing U.S. sanctions. It's a response to the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the nuclear -- Iran nuclear agreement. Germany's Foreign Minister says the new trade channel will encourage Iran to stay in the deal.
We have often report on the winners of literary prizes here, but then, rarely has there been a winner like Behrouz Boochani. The 35-year-old Iranian Kurd has been held on Manus Island for almost six years, Australia's notorious offshore detention center.
Boochani was seeking asylum under Australian law, though, anyone caught trying to reach the country by small boat is sent to a detention center in the Pacific. And once there, he used his old iPhone to write about his experience, sending one text at a time in Farsi, to a translator, living in Sydney, Omid Tofighian.
All those years later, and No Friend but the Mountains, was just awarded the Victorian prize for literature, the richest literary prize in Australia.
Well, for more on this, Omid Tofighian actually joins us now, from Sydney. He's a lecturer at the University of Sydney and the guy who translated the book. Congratulations to you, as well. I guess, there must be a lot of satisfaction.
You know, all of those years, all of those texts from WhatsApp, were worth it. And I'm not talking about the literary prize, but rather all the attention is now focusing on Australia's very harsh immigration system.
OMID TOFIGHIAN, LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: Absolutely. For me, it's probably the most important thing that I'll ever do in my life. And to be quite frank, if I had to do it all over again, I certainly would, and I'm looking forward to continuing to do this in the future.
VAUSE: And just back up here, because the decision by Boochani to actually write the book, via text messages on WhatsApp was a very strategic one he made from the beginning because he was worried if hard copy was found with him, on Manus Island, you know, there'd be a very real chance it would be taken at some point and he would never see it again.
TOFIGHIAN: The conditions on Manus Island for refugees who are detained are extremely brutal. So, in the beginning, they weren't allowed to even have pen and paper. So, until about 2016, towards the end of 2016, telephones were also illegal. So, he had phones smuggled in. They were confiscated a number of times. But he managed to keep getting another phone in, and he began writing it from the very first weeks that he was in the camp.
VAUSE: Yes. He's (INAUDIBLE) couple of interviews and one of them, the tiny talks about this literary award saying it's a paradoxical feeling. I don't want to celebrate this achievement while I still see many innocent people suffering around me. Give us freedom. We have committed no crime. We are only seeking asylum.
How much embarrassment has this caused the Australian government?
TOFIGHIAN: That's really hard to gauge. I think, certainly internationally, and in cultural and literary and intellectual circles. It's a massive embarrassment, I mean, anyone who does this to other human beings and feels that they're doing the right thing, feels like they're basically -- you know, the law or rules and regulations that are constructed in a particular point in time for particular purposes.
If for them to be above humanity, for their laws, rules and regulations to be above humanity, is just ridiculous to imagine. So, whether the government actually changes its policies and actually bent or bows down over to the weight of this kind of scrutiny is another thing.
VAUSE: Yes. You know, in their decision to award this prize to Boochani, the judges wrote this, Boochani has produced a stunning work of art and critical theory which evades simple description. At its heart, though, it is a detailed criminal study and description of Boochani terms Manus Prison Theory. He provides a new understanding both of Australia's actions and of Australia itself.
OK, well, you say this story is getting a lot of attention, internationally. Will this book itself bring, maybe, a new level of understanding for the plight of asylum seekers among Australians, especially the ones who are sent to places like, you know, Manus Island?
TOFIGHIAN: Certainly, and that's the case. I think a lot of people, first of all, don't really understand the depths and also the brutality of what's happening in these camps.
[00:35:05] So, on one level, it's going to basically convey the systematic torture that people have had to live under for all of these years. And also, this kind of vicious and what Behrouz and I often refer to as a new form -- a new colonial form of violence.
On top of that, I think this is something about refugees all over the world that displace and exalt people all over the world. I mean, the perception that these people are weak, needy, passive and just looking for nothing more than just a safety and protection and freedom.
That's one interpretation, but these are also people with really distinct skills, viewpoints, understanding, and a whole range of different elements. So, this is basically changing the way a lot of people perceive refugees in general.
VAUSE: Boochani wasn't there for the book launch; I think, last year, 2018. Will he be able to actually turn up anywhere in Australia to receive any kind of award, maybe not this one, but maybe awards in the future? Because there have been other rewards as well, for his work.
TOFIGHIAN: Yes. He made a film, co-directed a film while he was in detention, and he wasn't allowed to attend two really significant screenings of that, at the Sydney Film Festival and the International London Film Festival.
So, whether he's able to attend anything in the future, it's completely unknown. And this is actually a very particularly ruthless part of the -- of the system that he could be released from detention tomorrow or he could never be released. He just doesn't know. The detention is indefinite.
VAUSE: This is Australia we're talking about. This is a country which everyone looks upon as being a modern Western democracy with the rule of law and human rights. This is not Myanmar that we're talking about. I mean, this is -- this is astounding.
TOFIGHIAN: Absolutely. And I think one of the things that Behrouz and I have discussed, though, at lengths, while translating it, is the absurdity and the surreal nature of the conditions he's living under. What he's had to experience throughout all of these years. And I think you can see that reflected in the book.
The book uses a surrealist style and really reflects the absurdity of this situation that we're living in one of the -- well, I'm living, in one of the richest countries in the world, and a country that has enormous networks and gets a lot of recognition for its position on human rights.
But at the same time, it's doing this very small number of people who are seeking protection and freedom. On the other hand, we also think about the book in terms of its horrific nature. So, we called the style, horrific surrealism and I think that really encapsulates not just the experience, the author, the soul of the book, but also the mode of production.
VAUSE: Yes. He writes out a piece of meat thrown into an unknown land, a prison of filth and heat. I dwell among a sea of people with faces stained and shaped by anger.
You know, this is just one of the lines. It is an incredible, incredible book. So, Omid, thanks for being with us and thanks for what you have done. Maybe it'll make a difference.
TOFIGHIAN: That's what we're going to try to ensure.
VAUSE: OK. Thank you.
Time for a short break, when we come back, forget the Rams and the Patriots, everyone knows watching the Super Bowl, it's all about the ads. Well, a preview of the pricey spots that will compete for viewers' attention on Sunday.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's beautiful too.
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VAUSE: Just days away now from America's biggest sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Rams will take on the New England Patriots, right here, in Atlanta. In fact, right next door to us, on Sunday. The traffic is nuts. Come Monday morning, though, the traffic will be gone.
But it isn't just the football game, people will be talking about. Cyril Vanier explains.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I give you Super Bowl 53, happening right by the CNN Center, this weekend, the biggest sporting event of the year, in the U.S. For one second of your attention during the game, advertisers will have to pay, on average, $175,000. That's for one second.
It works out to just over $5 million for a 30-second slot, $5.2 million, and you see the price of average sizing in the Super Bowl, rising steadily for the last 10 years. Now, the brands, of course, have to make those dollars, count.
So, be funny, be shocking, be edgy, whatever it takes, exhibit a, this year, Amazon, going for self-deprecation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ordering dog food, ordering dog food.
HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: You can bark all you want. I'm not paying for any more dog food.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ordering gravy, ordering sausages.
FORD: Hey, you better cancel that order.
VAUSE: OK. But not all brands like to make fun of themselves on the biggest stage. Do you remember when they had Cindy Crawford, drinking a soda that was in the '90s? Well, brands still do that. They try to pull you in with a familiar face, queue 2019.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cosmopolitan?
SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTRESS: No. Tonight, I'll have a Stella Artois.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your Stella Artois. PARKER: Thank you.
LUKE WILSON, ACTOR: I'm a close talker, so I was excited about all new Colgate Total. Sensitivity, strengthens teeth, it kills germs through my whole mouth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like your confidence.
WILSON: Thanks, Mr. Lee.
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Tell me why.
NICK CARTER, MEMBER, BACKSTREET BOYS: I never want to hear you say.
CHANCE THE RAPPER: I want it that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The original. Now it's hot.
VANIER: Actors, singers, cars, beers, phone plans, chips, you name it. They're all trying to out advertise their rivals. But this year, one rivalry cuts particularly deep, Pepsi versus Coca-Cola. Because, you see, the game is here in Atlanta, and that is Coca-Cola's hometown. But Pepsi is the official sponsor. So, behold the Cola wars.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll take a Coke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Pepsi, OK?
STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: Is Pepsi, OK? Is Pepsi OK? Are puppies, OK? Is a shooting star, OK? Is the laughter of small child, OK?
CARDI B, SINGER AND RAPPER: I said I like it like that.
CARELL: OK, what have we learned today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want a Pepsi?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want a Pepsi.
CARELL: There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't you see? Difference is beautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And together, is beautiful too.
VANIER: OK, then. So, who wins the Super Bowl of advertising? You decide, back to you.
VAUSE: Cyril, thank you for that. And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.
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