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Venezuela's Juan Guaido Returns Home, Calls For More Protests; China's Annual Parliament Meeting Underway; Father Of Pell Victim Considers Civil Lawsuit; Powerful Tornadoes Kill 23 People In Southern U.S. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired March 5, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): One billion yen: that's the bail finally set for the former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn after three months in jail. It looks like he is getting out soon.
A hero's winner for Juan Guaido back in Venezuela and piling more pressure on Nicolas Maduro.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Unfortunately, fate chose something else for this child to be kidnapped and then find herself today in a war zone.
WATSON (voice-over): The orphans left behind by ISIS in Syria. France gets ready to welcome the children from former citizens who joined the terror group.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Nick Watt. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
WATT: Carlos Ghosn, the former head of Nissan and a titan of the auto industry, could soon get his first taste of freedom in more than three months. A court in Tokyo has granted him bail set at almost $9 million U.S.
Ghosn has been in custody since late November, charged with financial misconduct for allegedly underreporting his salary for nearly a decade. Prosecutors are appealing the bail decision. Journalist Kaori Enjoji is following this from Tokyo.
What is the latest?
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: We're waiting to see what the court will say to the filing by the prosecutors here in Japan, who clearly do not want to see Carlos Ghosn come out of his detention center. We're waiting to see whether the Tokyo district court will uphold their decision made earlier in the day to grant Ghosn bail on a certain number of conditions, that he stays in Japan while on bail
And as his lawyer pointed out, so that he has limited access to the public and that there might be some camera surveillance around him, should he be granted bail.
But this is a dramatic turn of events after more than 100 days in a detention cell in solitary confinement. One of the titans of the auto industry could be released today. So we're still not 100 percent sure whether bail will be granted but the expectations are running high that he may be later on tonight.
WATT: I hear that his lawyers are getting the U.N. involved, alleging that he has been somehow maltreated, his human rights have been trampled on while he has been in custody.
ENJOJI: Ever since Ghosn was arrested in late November, this has been a big case with the allegations of misappropriated use of company funds or breach of trust as well as the whole Japanese judicial system has come under the microscope.
This is the narrative that his new legal team is trying to push. This is a fairly new legal team that Ghosn has hired here in Japan. He is very well-known, almost notorious for getting previously convicted criminals overturned, acquitted all the way up to the supreme court.
He had a news conference yesterday and it was fairly clear that he wanted to put the judicial system here in Japan under the spotlight. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUNICHIRO HIRONAKA, CARLOS GHOSN'S LAWYER (through translator): The detention system in Japan is also known as hostage justice, which means one remains in a detention center as punishment until one confesses as the prosecutor requests.
The system has been criticized all over the world. We would like to appeal against the situation and have the bail approved as soon as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ENJOJI: There is also a lawyer in a legal team in France and also the United States and the legal team in France filed some paperwork yesterday in Paris. And they outlined that they are putting this case to the attention of the United Nations, the human rights committee there. They outlined certain things that they felt should be examined in terms of human rights abuse.
At that press conference Ghosn's lawyers in France says, as some examples, the fact that he has been in solitary confinement for more than 100 days, that they feel he is a danger to the other prisoners and their argument is that Ghosn doesn't even speak Japanese, how would he be able to communicate with the other prisoners?
The fact that he has limited access to his legal team has come under the spotlight as well. All of these things are likely to come into focus. And bear in mind that Nissan has had something to say.
Nissan continues to say -- and the latest comment from them is that Ghosn, while he was supervising both Nissan and Renault, engaged in unethical --
ENJOJI: -- behavior. They maintain that stance.
But I think you also have to remember that his legal team is starting to question whether or not the Japanese government itself may have had some kind of hand in these developments.
Bear in mind, of course, that Renault, which is a big shareholder in Nissan, and the French government is a big stakeholder in Renault as well. So this is not only a case of a fallen titan, an icon of industry, a story about the Japanese judicial system and perhaps possibly about industries surrounding both France and Japan for those two nations.
WATT: Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo, thank you very much for your time.
Meanwhile opposition leader Juan Guaido is back in Venezuela, defying the threat of arrest and calling for mass protests this Saturday against President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido has spent the past 10 days on a regional road trip, shoring up support for his self-declared presidency. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Caracas.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the image Juan Guaido wanted Venezuela and the world to see, the self-declared interim president's triumphant return. But getting into Venezuela required more twists and turns than a Hollywood thriller.
Guaido left last month for a tour of nations to support his claim as leader of Venezuela by walking across the border to Colombia. He returned on a commercial flight from Panama on Monday, daring the government of Nicolas Maduro to do their worst.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"They threatened all of us who are standing here," he said.
"They threatened me, you saw it, with jail time, with death. And I will let you know it will not be through persecutions or threats that they will stop us."
At the airport, Guaido was met by European ambassadors who used their diplomatic immunity to escort him safely to a motorcade of waiting vehicles. The crowd of thousands cheered him when he arrived at a plaza in Caracas. Student Maria Gabriela (ph) was one of the many who waited hours to see Guaido.
"I was born in 1998," she tells me. "I've never known any government but this one. I will stay in the streets and keep supporting President Guaido until the regime falls."
Guaido and the opposition say Maduro stole the last presidential election and that he needs to go.
OPPMANN: Juan Guaido said he will return to Venezuela and now he has, once again defying the government here. He told Maduro that, if he were arrested, it would be the last mistake he would ever make. But by all indications, the military still very much backs Maduro so any possible change of government is still a long way off.
OPPMANN (voice-over): Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, showered the military with money and housings, even allegedly allowed some generals to engage in drug trafficking, all to keep them loyal, loyalty that Guaido claims is now fading.
"And we know 80 percent of the armed forces are in favor of the change," he says.
"We know this. They have communicated with us. They have spoken to us.
"Why do you think we are here today?
"Now, the time is now. There is no more for now. It's now when we need change in Venezuela."
Once again, Juan Guaido has outsmarted Maduro's regime but it remains to be seen if he can outlast them -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Caracas.
WATT: Let's take a closer look at all this with Eric Farnsworth, he is the vice president of the Council of the Americas. Eric, we just heard in Patrick's report how Nicolas Maduro got the military on side. The military obviously key here.
What does Guaido have to do to win their support? Can he win their support?
ERIC FARNSWORTH, VICE PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS AND AMERICAS SOCIETY: Well, Nick, thanks for having me on. You know, this is the open question the military and the security forces remain the arbiter in Venezuela of whether Guaido can ultimately ascend to the Miraflores Palace and if Mr. Maduro will be eased off into the sunset.
And at this point, there's a full court press underway to try to get elements of the military to transfer their loyalty to Mr. Guaido. Any number have already done that, several hundred, up to 600 I think were last estimates. But in the scheme of things that's not a quorum, that's not enough. And so the efforts have to continue. The truth to the matter is most of the military and security forces if one can believe the reports out of Venezuela are not remaining loyal to Maduro because they like him or have a great deal of affection for him or believe in his governance program but rather out of fear.
They're afraid that if they turn, they'll be subject to sanction, certainly they'll lose their jobs, they lose their pensions, they lose access to food and they may indeed lose their lives and their families will also be subject to persecution.
So, there's a big fear factor there and Mr. Guaido --
FARNSWORTH: -- have to show that if they throw their support behind him that indeed he and more importantly the international community will have their backs.
WATT: I mean, Guaido almost has to prove to them that he can take power, he will take power and then they might join him.
FARNSWORTH: That is the critical point in my view. You're absolutely right. If there's a sense that at the end of this Guaido will remain out of power then why would the military make that move? You know and this is a bunch of individual decisions, too.
Everybody is going to have to game this out based on their own circumstances, but they want to throw in their lot with the person who they think is most likely to remain in power. So there has to be the sense that at the end of o the day, Guaido will in fact be the leader of the country.
WATT: And I do want to play just a little bit of sound from Guaido from today after he returned to Venezuela. Let's take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUAIDO (through translator): Even if he puts on a flag costume because it's carnival season he is not the president. The interim president of the Republic of Venezuela is right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: So how is Maduro going to react to this. I mean, Guaido is almost said, listen, it would be a big mistake if you arrest me? What is Maduro going to do?
FARNSWORTH: Well, I think they are trying to figure that out right now. You know, there was a lot of speculation that Juan Guaido arrived at Maiquetia, which is the airport outside of Caracas that he'd either by arrested or somehow not let into the country, something like that. In fact, he arrived and there were crowds that greeted him and he was allowed into the country. There seems to be some confusion or some difference of opinion in Maduro's regime in terms of what to do with Guaido. I think that will play out over the next couple of days. There's no question about that. That's something we're going to have to watch very carefully.
WATT: And Eric, Guaido has called for mass protests on Saturday. Will that be a key indicator of how this is going to go when we see just how many people turn out on the streets?
FARNSWORTH: Yes. Each step toward the ultimate goal I think is important. I think many in the international community thought perhaps that February 23 the last protest, the aid caravan, if you will, would be the final straw for Maduro to get him out of this country. I never thought that that would necessarily be the case.
I mean, this is a step by step process. You'll never know which will be the final straw that breaks the camel's back. Each one is important. But the key is going to be and continuous to be that the Guaido and the interim government maintain momentum, maintain pressure on Maduro because if that pressure is reduced somehow, Maduro is able to stay in office for a long time.
And so, we'll know a lot about that in terms of can they maintain the momentum based on as you rightly suggest the number of people that come out in the country to protest and not just the numbers but also the geographic distribution. Where are they? Are they in just Caracas, are they outside, are they in opposition-dominated areas, are they, is it broad-based? We'll know more a lot based on that.
WATT: And I'm going to put you on the spot finally, Eric. This is a one-word answer. A year from now who is going to be in power, Guaido, Maduro, or somebody else?
FARNSWORTH: Well, I think Guaido will still be the interim president whether or not he's in power I think is an open question.
WATT: Eric Farnsworth, thank you so much for your time.
FARNSWORTH: Thank you.
WATT: U.S. Democrats are launching investigations and they've got questions about pretty much every aspect of President Trump's life. What they're looking at -- just ahead. Plus:
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): This is my only battle and I will not give up, it's for this child. So please, be human. He shouldn't be out there and he is all I have left of my daughter. We have to save this little thing.
WATSON (voice-over): Anguished families begging for kids to be brought home from Syria. How France is treating the orphans of its citizens who joined ISIS. That's coming up.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WATT: It looks like pretty much every single aspect of president Donald Trump's professional life is now under investigation. Democrats who took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January are now launching numerous inquiries, demanding information from dozens of Trump associates.
Manu Raju reports on what lies ahead.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The House Judiciary Committee today announcing a sprawling investigation into the president's inner circle, trying to uncover evidence that the president obstructed justice and abused his power.
The chairman of the committee, Jerry Nadler, sent letters to 81 individuals and entities connected to the president, including family members like his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, former aide Hope Hicks, longtime Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and his current campaign manager, Brad Parscale.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: It's very clear that the president obstructed justice. It's very clear.
RAJU: The scope of the probe is breathtaking, looking into everything, from whether the president is benefiting financially from foreign interests, as well as campaign contacts with the Russians, the firing of then FBI Director James Comey and demanding from the head of the parent company of "The National Enquirer," and hush money payments the president made to silence stories in 2016 about his alleged affairs with a porn star and a former "Playboy" Playmate.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think what they're doing is exercising their constitutional responsibility for oversight. To do anything less would be delinquent in our duties, than to exercise their oversight.
RAJU: Asked today if he would cooperate, Trump said:
TRUMP: I cooperate all the time with everybody. And you know the beautiful thing? No collusion. It's all a hoax.
RAJU: Republicans contend it's all part of a Democratic effort to take down the president. SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I think there a lot of House members that just decided they wanted to start the election early. And they're going to do everything they can to tear down the president. I'm not saying that the Republicans wouldn't do it if the shoe were on the other foot. RAJU: But Democrats who have called for impeachment are giving House committee some breathing room to first investigate the president, at least for now.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I understand that the leadership perhaps may want to build a stronger case and subpoena more records or figure out what's happening perhaps in the Mueller investigation. And so I defer to the chair. I defer to the party leadership.
RAJU: The Judiciary probe is one of a number that House Democrats are intensifying in just their third month in power.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings is threatening to subpoena the White House for records over Kushner's security clearance, after a "New York Times" report revealed that the president overruled concerns from intelligence officials to give Kushner access to classified information.
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: I would certainly support a subpoena issuance if we don't get cooperation from the White House.
RAJU: The 81 names is just a start; expect far more names to be added to that list in the days and weeks ahead. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee say this is just the beginning of the investigation, certainly not the end.
At the same time a new line of inquiry going forward; three powerful Democratic committee chairmen demanding a range of documents from the president's communications with Putin.
There were several face-to-face interactions and Democrats are concerned there are no records of those interactions. They're asking the White House and the U.S. State Department to provide more records about exactly what happened there. And they're --
RAJU: -- asking for transcribed interviews with some of the people who were present and aware of what happened, including the American translator at the Putin-Trump meetings -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.
WATT: Let's get more on all this with Daniel Dale, he's the Washington bureau chief of the "Toronto Star."
Daniel, I heard Republicans saying this is all just a deep-sea fishing expedition and the Democrats have a suspect and they're now just looking for a crime.
What do you say to that?
DANIEL DALE, "TORONTO STAR": Well, that's what they have consistently said about every investigation into Donald Trump's activities. That's what they say about the Robert Mueller investigation, which was triggered by a deputy attorney general who was appointed by Donald Trump himself.
So that's their go-to line. But there is perhaps more of an argument this time because of how broad this investigation is. Democrats have sent an unusually wide-ranging set of requests to literally dozens of people in Donald Trump's orbit. So perhaps the argument will gain more traction this time than it did with the more focused Robert Mueller investigation.
WATT: Those 81 names, which of those names jump out to you?
DALE: There's the ones that everyone knows, like Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, the former communications aide to the president. I'm very interested in some of the lesser known names as well.
There are several figures affiliated with the Trump Organization, the president's company, like Allen Weisselberg, the CFO; Rhona Graff, who's the president's assistant and scheduler. Another employee name Ronald Lieberman.
These are all people who likely know interesting information, at least interesting, about the activities of Donald Trump when it comes to financial dealings and, as we know, his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, tested to Congress this week that some of those financial dealings were at least underhanded and possibly criminal.
So I think there's a lot to learn from those individuals as well.
WATT: Is there any chance that this backfires politically on the Democrats?
The way that President Trump spins it, as he says, the Democrats are after him, they're trying to silence me but he also says to his supporters they're trying to silence you. And his approval ratings right now aren't bad.
DALE: No. They're better than they had been as recently as a few months allowing. So they have bounced back a little bit. I think there is always a chance when you launch a wide-ranging investigation, that it will backfire, especially when you have a president who is this aggressive in trying to prompt that backfire in firing back at his critics and the people who are investigating him.
I think the Democrats would counter that. Look, we were investigated by a significant majority of the vote in the midterm elections by people who wanted us to provide a check on the president, who wanted us to our oversight powers. So they will say that the president can say what he wants but we're doing what the voters wanted us to do.
WATT: At the end of the day, we will remember on the campaign trail when Donald Trump said I can stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I would still get the votes, at the end of the day, this is also a political issue, not a legal one. And to impeach him, the Democrats could get half of the House but
they're not going to get what they need in the Senate to actually get rid of Donald Trump. This is political.
DALE: Yes. It is important to remember that. When we think impeachment, impeachment is only the House process to actually remove someone who has been impeached, you need the Senate as well. So Democrats will not have that.
I think what they're trying to do at the very least is keep damaging stories alive. There's kind of an avalanche problem with Donald Trump in that one scandal gets buried by the next scandal because there's so much happening.
But what Democrats can do with these subpoenas and investigations is at least keep these controversies alive in the public mind longer than they otherwise would and create a drumbeat of negative stories that wouldn't exist if they weren't doing this.
WATT: I just want to get your thoughts on that Trump two-plus hours CPAC speech at the weekend. We have been covering it here quite a lot. I'm interested to hear what your impressions were of that performance, I suppose.
DALE: We know it was the longest speech that Trump has ever given as a candidate or as president. I thought it was the strangest speech I had ever seen him give. He bounded from topic to topic. He ranted about his crowd sizes, I believe for at least five minutes, maybe 10.
He revived grievances, some of which were 14 months and some of which were two years old. He showed almost no interest in the policy content that his advisers had written for him.
I just thought how haphazard and unfocused he was and in his jumping from tone to tone, mocking the Southern accent of his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions. I just thought it was comprehensively bizarre.
WATT: Daniel Dale, thank you very much.
DALE: Thank you.
WATT: As those congressional investigations move forward, there is also a new report from "The New Yorker" magazine about President Trump's opposition to the AT&T-TimeWarner merger. Our Brian Stelter has the details.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. Yes, on a day when House Democrats are launching a brand new investigation into alleged abuses of power by Donald Trump, this may be another line of inquiry. The reporting comes from "The New Yorker" magazine, backing up
suspicions that AT&T executives have had for a long time. AT&T sought to buy TimeWarner, the parent company of CNN, shortly before Election Day in 2016. Then candidate Donald Trump said he was opposed to the deal.
Once Trump took office, according to "The New Yorker," he took steps to get the deal stopped. This is the description from Jane Mayer (ph), recounting a conversation that Trump reportedly had with Gary Cohn, who was the director of the National Economic Council at the time.
According to the story here, according to a well informed source, Trump called Cohen into the Oval Office along with John Kelly who had just become the chief of staff, and said in exasperation to Kelly, "I've been telling Cohen to get this lawsuit filed and nothing has happened. I've mentioned it 50 times and nothing has happened.
"I want to make sure it is filed. I want that deal blocked."
That's reporting from "The New Yorker." Jane Mayer goes on to say that Cohen refused to do it and he said something to Kelly to the effect of, "Don't you dare call the Justice Department."
Of course, what is common in American politics, whether it is Republican or Democratic president, is that the Justice Department had is a wide degree of autonomy. The idea that a president would try to block a business deal, perhaps because he didn't like the television network, in this case, CNN, that was involved, is something that is disturbing not just to a lot of Democrats and liberals but also to a number of Republicans and conservatives.
We've heard from the husband of White House aide Kellyanne Conway, George Conway, saying on Twitter that, if this reporting is true, it is an impeachable offense by President Trump.
Now the administration has always denied that the president tried to interfere. The Justice Department has always said the same thing. But this reporting in "The New Yorker" may open up another line of inquiry for Democrats. They may want to try to speak with Gary Cohn, John Kelly or others who may have been involved -- Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.
WATT: Next, the children in Syria are paying the price for the sins of their ISIS parents.
What will be their fate?
That's coming up.
Plus the U.S. response to a dual U.S.-Saudi citizen, allegedly tortured and still held in the desert kingdom. What we know about the detention of Dr. Walid Fitaihi -- coming up.
[02:30:14] WATT: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Nick Watt with the headlines this hour. Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been granted bail in Tokyo set at almost $9 million U.S. He could be release in the coming hours. Ghosn has been held since late November accused of underreporting his salary the auto maker for nearly a decade. Prosecutors are appealing the bail decision.
And opposition leader Juan Guido is now backed home in Venezuela despite the threats of arrest form Nicholas Maduro's government. Giudo's has been out of the country meeting regional leaders shoring up support for his self-proclaimed presidency. Now he is calling for another day of nationwide protests on Saturday.
Hundreds of people, including ISIS Fighters and their families have been surrendering to U.S.-backed forces in Eastern Syria. Still unclear when this last teetering ISIS enclave will fall, but there are reports that those U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters are getting ready to celebrate victory. The collapse of ISIS is raising a major dilemma for many countries. What to do with the foreign fighters who joined the terror group and what to do with their children.
CNN's Melissa Bell reports on how France is handling the children of ISIS, some of them orphaned and right now adrift in Syria.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: This is the last known picture of Jana who is now seven. Ismail who's family doesn't want his face shown is nearly three. Both are in Syria, orphans of the falling ISIS Caliphate. Ismail grandmother hopes to see him soon.
The Red Cross sent a picture of Ismail to his grandmother. He is one of around a hundred children captured from ISIS territory that France is preparing to bring home. For now, they're being kept in Kurdish camps.
At first the adults were to be brought to France and tried, but now the President Mahmoud says, they should be tried in those countries and could face the death penalty. But the children will come to France most are younger than seven. Nadia has been preparing a home for Ismail the grandson she's never met. Her daughter ran away to Syria when she was just 14, secretly brainwashed says Nadia by the propaganda she found online.
Nadia believes that she is dead and is now desperate to bring home the son she bore in Raqqa. But she says French authorities have been slow to bring them home the children of the ISIS enemy. Nadia she is not alone. Other French families have been fighting a long and lonely battle for the children, either taken to ISIS territory or born there.
SAMIA MAKTOUF, LAWYER: It is already too late. We waste one year and since last year we know in which count they are, we know that they are French, we know that they have families in France and we haven't yet done nothing. BELL: With France has scoured as it is by years of terrorism, the
authorities have struggled with idea of the returning Jihadis. We reached out to French authorities but they did not respond to comment. Nadine Ribbed Reinhart who lost her son in the Bataclan believes that a distinction needs to be made between those who chose ISIS and those that did not.
NADINE RIBET-REINHART, MOTHER OF BATACLAN VICTIM (through translator): Just because we are the parents of the deceased and wounded victims of the November 13th attacks, that doesn't mean that we have lost our humanity. So, of course we wish for the children to be brought home, to find a foster family, grandparents, but their parents, they must be judged. Yes, that is our wish
BELL: But for some children the problem is more complicated still. Jana is still thought to be in ISIS territory. Her father died after kidnapping her from her mother and taking her to Syria. Jana's uncle says he believes that she is in the hands of a Libyan family (INAUDIBLE) in Hajin, in Eastern Syria.
MUSTAPHA, UNCLE OF ISIS ORPHAN (through translator): This pain has caused tensions between everyone. What we should be doing now, what we should have done, but unfortunately fate chooses something else for this child to be kidnapped and to find herself today in a warzone.
BELL: Children stuck in a warzone and in another no man's land.
[02:35:02] Caught between the sins of their parents and their rights as French citizens and as children. Melissa Bell's CNN, Paris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: For more on what might now happen to those Westerners who joined ISIS, go to CNN.com. We look at if and how they will be tried and the countries that might take them back. Now, a dual U.S.-Saudi Citizen has been beaten, tortured and remains jailed in Saudi Arabia. This, according to a source familiar with the fate of Dr. Whalid Fitaihi. He has been held for more than a year. The U.S. State Department says it has raised the case with Riyadh. More now from CNN's Nic Robertson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: When Dr. Whalid Fataihi returned to Saudi Arabia, he never imagined he would end up in prison. Harvard educated, more than a decade in medical practice in the U.S. The dual national U.S.-Saudi, he might even have felt a little protected, but that wasn't to be. In 2006, his family had built a hospital in the Red Sea Port City of Jeddah, Fataihi was to head it.
He was bringing his skills back to his roots help Saudis sick, he was popular. Proud of the human rights instincts he had picked up over 20 years living in the U.S. Suddenly, late 2017 as a desert kingdom's powerful young crowned Prince Mohammad Bin Salman rounded up top princess and businessmen accusing them of corruption. Fataihi found himself caught in the dragnet.
He was imprisoned along with the others in Riyadh's Ritz Carlton hotel. His family says he was beaten and tortured. His lawyer says he was transferred to jail without due process and wrote to the State Department this January pleading for help. It is believed that Doctor Fataihi has been and is tortured at least psychologically during this imprisonment. But alarm bells were sounded long before.
In January last year, Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi tweeted. How can someone like the Dr. Whaled Fataihi get detained? And what are the reasons for that? Khashoggi would not survive to find the answers. He was brutally murder by Saudi officials whom the C.I.A. concludes were acting on orders from Bin Salman. The young crowned prince still enjoys President Trump's favor and only last week was courted by his Mideast envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Dual U.S.-Saudi national Fataihi has had to wait over a year to get the public's attention.
JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We have had what's called, consular access, meaning American diplomats in Saudi Arabia have visited with him. Beyond that we don't really have any additional information at point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Saudi officials have so far not returned CNN's requests for comment. They told the New York Times, they take allegations of ill treatment of defendants awaiting trial and prisoners serving their sentences very seriously. Nic Robertson's, CNN Islamabad, Pakistan.
WATT: After five years in jail, an Egyptian photographer is vowing to continue the work that landed him behind bars. Egyptian authorities on Monday released Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan. He was arrested in 2013 while covering a sit-in that ended with security forces killing hundreds of protesters. Shawkan says, he wasn't protesting, but just doing his job. Either way, his family is just happy to have him home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABU ZEID, EGYPTIAN PHOTOJOURNALIST (through translator): I feel happy after the release. I feel like I am flying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translator): He feels freedom.
ZEID: I feel free.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newly born. His birthday is October 10th, but his new birth is today. What is todays date?
ZEID: March 4th, my new birthday is March 4th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: But his freedom is not unconditional. For next five years Shawkan must spend every night sleeping at a police station. Now, a developing story, we are following demonstrators in Algeria demanding the president withdraw his bid for reelection and allow some fresh faces to take power. But the 82-year-old, Abdelaziz Bouteflika who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke back in 2013 appears to have other plans. CNN's Becky Anderson reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Public fires, armored vehicles in the streets. A sea of protesters. It was a weekend of one of the largest of displays of public dissent in Algeria in half a century since the war of independence from France. Protesters demonstrated across the country and in France in opposition to the President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
[02:40:12] UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am happy and emotional that the Algerian people are doing everything to try and put an end to 20 years of this mascaraed and to understand that this power is useless and it's only looking out for itself.
ANDERSON: Putting in a show of defiance on Sunday, the Presidents campaign manager announced he would be running for a fifth term. Despite being rarely seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013. The ailing 82-year-old has held office since 1999. Enraged by his continued two-decade rule, some Algerians have called for parliament to be dissolved to make way for new government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): A free and Democratic Algeria this will, God willing marked a second independence for Algeria.
ANDERSON: But the only change Bouteflika has been promised is in election timing, saying he will look amending the constitution to set a date for earlier elections, that's only if he's reelected first in April.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The fifth term is not acceptable, because our president did what he could, and now he can't do anything else so we have to move on.
ROBERTSON: Bouteflika has vowed not to run if he calls an early election. Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: After decades of growing at a phenomenal pace, China hits a speed bump. We'll bring you the less than stellar outlook from the leaders of the world's second largest economy. That's coming up. Plus more legal trouble could be the horizon for disgraced Cardinal George Pell. The action, the father of one of his sexual abuse victims is considering just ahead right here on CNN Newsroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WATT: Nearly three thousands of China's Communist Party Elite are now
gathered of the country's Annual National People's Congress. It's describe as a Robert Stamp parliament since the measures discussed of already been decided. This year, however, China's experiencing an economic slowdown after three decades of growth, military spending and foreign investment are also on the agenda. So, let's go live now to Beijing where our Will Ripley joins us. Will, they've lowered their growth target this year but are those figures ever accurate?
[02:45:08] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the -- you know, some $13 trillion question Nick. You know, because it's somehow miraculously, every year, the government sets a growth target and those targets are always reached.
Now, a lot of economists wonder if there might be some cooking of the books happening. And whether the numbers are indeed -- you know, this year is it going to really be six to 69 percent, or could the situation be worse economically than what the government official statistics led on.
Either way though, you know, despite whether the numbers are cooked or not, China's growth has been on a steadily downward -- you know, track. Last year, growth figures were 6.6 percent which was the lowest in three decades. If this year it's between six and 6-1/2 percent.
Well, obviously -- you know, that's not a good trend for China. Although putting it into context for almost any other developed economy, a growth level of six percent, they would -- they would be thrilled with that.
But it's you know -- this is a country that saw double-digit growth for a number of years and there are a lot of different factors at play. Obviously, it's now far less expensive to manufacture goods in other countries like Vietnam, for example, where I just came from.
From the summit in Hanoi, there's a lot of manufacturing happening there that has shifted from China to countries like Vietnam. But there's also the trade war with the United States that is a major factor.
And, of course, one of the things that they're going to be doing at the National People's Congress is voting on a foreign investment bill which is an attempt to try to answer some of the concerns of the United States which has demanded structural reforms here in China, to try to even the playing field when it comes to U.S. companies doing business here, and other foreign companies by extension as well.
So, this foreign investment bill would tackle things like forced -- you know, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and essentially, try to make the playing field more level for foreign companies, putting them on more equal footing with Chinese companies when they're doing business here.
However, the key is always whether these types of reforms would actually be enforced. And that's going to be a big question moving forward. It's certainly an issue that has come up in trade negotiations with the United States, which has put those 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods on hold, at least, for now.
Another big issue, military spending. It's up 7-1/2 percent in the coming year. China making it very clear that they're going to protect their national interest. And, of course, one of the hot-button issues where things have become increasingly tensed is Taiwan.
So, China -- you know, by investing in things like their aircraft carrier, like these carrier killer missiles that could potentially pose a strategic threat to U.S. military assets in this region.
They're sending a very clear message, Nick, while they are still -- you know, trying to -- you know, guide the country through this somewhat economic downturn and still you know try to grow in a positive direction.
They're also positioning themselves as a military power in the region and that is a not so thinly veiled message to the United States.
WATT: Thanks a lot Will. Moving on, disgraced Cardinal George Pell won't be sentenced for his child sex abuse convictions until next week. But, he could be facing even more legal trouble from the family of one of his victims. CNN's Anna Coren is the only international journalist to speak with that man's father.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dressed in his chorister robes, his thick hair brushed to one side. This young boy is a picture of innocence and so much promise. It's the way his father tries to remember him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he wasn't playing across, he was at the football. If he wasn't at the football, he'd be at church, to the choir.
COREN: To be in the choir was a privileged position. He'd been hand- picked along with two other boys from his local school to be a choir boy at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
It came with a scholarship to a prestigious Melbourne private school, and a world his parents would never have been able to afford.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For my son, it was a fabulous opportunity. Yes, and it would have been fabulous for his future.
COREN: But it was inside this blue stone basilica that sits on Eastern Hill in the city, where unspeakable crimes happened to his son and his friend when they were just 13 years old. Neither the boys nor their families can be identified for legal reasons.
A jury found that Cardinal George Pell, then-Archbishop of Melbourne, caught them in the priest's sacristy after Sunday Mass in 1996. He forced the other choir boy to perform oral sex on him before indecently assaulting both boys. While his son never spoke of the attack, he says his behavior the following year suggested something could gone terribly wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was trying to mask on something that happened to him. He was trying to cover up something that had happened to him. So heinous, so horrible.
COREN: His father says, he was kicked out of the choir, lost his scholarship, and fell into the wrong crowd. Within 12 months, his treasured son was injecting heroin, an addiction that would eventually claim his life after an accidental overdose in 2014. His parents had to identify him at the morgue.
[02:50:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, you look at him and you think why? What a waste. What a waste of life.
COREN: He believes it was his son's death that would prompt the surviving choirboy to go to police. When Cardinal Pell was interviewed by Australian detectives in Rome in 2016, he scoffed at the allegations.
CARDINAL GEORGE PELL, FORMER INAUGURAL PREFECT OF THE SECRETARIAT FOR THE ECONOMY: What a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish. Completely false. Madness.
COREN: A jury found Pell guilty on all five charges of child sexual abuse. The 77-year-old maintains his innocence and has lodged an appeal.
Despite the fact, Cardinal George Pell is now a convicted pedophile, he still has enormous support here in Australia. Former prime minister's media commentators, even some church leaders have all questioned the veracity of the jury's decision. Sowing the seeds of doubt as to whether the crimes that took place inside this Cathedral 22 years ago ever happened at all.
LISA FLYNN, HEAD, SPECIALIST PERSONAL INJURY: This isn't a case where there's been only allegations. There has been a unanimous jury verdict of guilt in this case. And to suggest that somehow the jury didn't get it right and that the victims and the survivors should still not be believed, I think is incredibly dangerous.
COREN: The father is now considering a civil case against the church which if successful could prove to be a test case for other survivors and their families who have been betrayed by an institution that was supposed to keep children safe. Anna Coren, CNN, Melbourne.
WATT: Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. Homes demolished communities destroyed, at least 23 dead. We'll have the latest on the tornadoes in Alabama with our Pedram Javaheri.
WATT: Here in the U.S., entire communities destroyed, at least, 23 people killed -- three of them, children, killed by tornadoes in the southern states of Alabama and Georgia. One mother told CNN, has she and her family just escaped.
WATT: You would have been here, but --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had just left and went to the grocery store with my kids to get my baby formula.
WATT: So, but for that, mother necessity you'd have been inside that trailer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WATT: Tell me how bad your boyfriend's smeared.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has a fractured leg, he has -- his ribs are broken, he has puncture wounds, cuts, bruises, he's really sore. I mean, he got to the hospital last night. More thankful he pull off.
And he seen the porch slap, the front porch was like a patio, hasting that fly up and he said he had just enough time to dive to the couch which the couch is about a foot away from the screen door, and he just held on to the couch for dear life.
WATT: Tornado season is, in fact, just getting underway across the United States. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more. Pedram?
[02:54:50] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, Nick, this is a pattern, of course, that's going to really begin a pickup and intensity over the next couple of months. The beginning of it as you said and you take a look, we're talking about reports of nearly 40 tornadoes touching down the vast majority of which into the states of Georgia and Alabama.
And keep in mind, this time of year, about five for the entire month for each of those two states is the number of tornadoes we average. So, to see this particular number, pretty impressive perspective and this all happening in a short period. But, go into April, into the month of May and June, that's when peak season arrives across portions of the United States for severe weather threat really begins to increase.
And, of course, with all this, there is always a cold weather element. The crash -- the clash of air masses we often talk about. And we know at temps back behind the front that was responsible for the tornadoes have dropped some 30 degrees across portions of the southern United States.
To the north, it's cold enough to where 50 record cold high temperatures have been set across that region. Temp still, well, below zero as we are just two weeks away from the spring season across North America.
I want to show you something here because you take you towards the Southern Hemisphere. I take you out towards areas of Australia, we know, of course, fires you up on us here. Summer just ending in the last couple of days across this region.
Victoria, reporting, at least, 19 active fires at this hour. Nine buildings destroyed. Some 23 schools closed across this region as a result of a lightning strike about a week ago here that ignited a fires that have consumed over 11,000 hectares of land, and some 2,000 firefighters on the scene right now battling these flames.
There is a front here, and that's cool the temperature is off just a little bit across the southern tier of the continent. Allowing the firefighters to make some ground across this region. But as we transition into autumn, the cooler weather is what folks are looking forward to across the area.
But look at this, Sydney, another day of summer-like heat, 33 degrees. That might be the last time we get to that level of heat for, at least, the next few months.
It looks like a cooling trend before another warming trend returns. But certainly, not as warmer this currently as across portions of Australia, Nick.
WATT: Thanks a lot, Pedram. Now, in parts of the western U.S., there's a different weather danger. Avalanches. This one caught on camera in Colorado on a stretch of Interstate known for its popular ski resorts.
This was actually the second Avalanche to strike the same general area that day. Amazingly, no one was hurt.
Now, someone in the U.S. State of South Carolina is nearly a billion dollars richer than they were yesterday. The winner of last October's $1.5 billion dollar mega millions lottery jackpot has finally come forward. The jackpot is the largest given out to a single winner in U.S. history.
The winner who wants to remain anonymous took the one-time cash payout option, $878 million.
Thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt. I'll be back with another hour of news. Next, you are watching CNN.