Return to Transcripts main page


Pompeo Makes Unannounced Trip to Iraq to Discuss Tensions with Iran; Liverpool Stuns Barcelona with Unlikeliest of Comebacks; Tax Documents Show Trump Businesses Lost More Than $1 Billion in a Decade; Democrats Could Vote to Hold William Barr in Contempt of Congress; South Africans Head to The Polls in Key Election. Trump Tax Returns Obtained By New York Times Reveal $1 Billion In Business Losses Over Decade; China Continues To Abduct Uighur Muslims, Sending Them To Internment Camps; Pakistani Woman Freed From Death Row Now In Canada; Cholera Now A Threat After Cyclone Devastation. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 8, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Tension in the Persian Gulf: U.S. officials say the recent military buildup is a response to a credible threat from Iran.

Millions of South Africans voting in an election that will show just how much power the ANC can hold on to.

The crackdown on Muslims in China: more than 1 million are forced into secret camps in remote regions and CNN went there to ask questions.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ma'am, can you tell me what that is?

It this something that you don't want us to see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why you are here?

Tell me, why you're here?



CHURCH: The top U.S. diplomat made an unannounced trip to Iran on Tuesday amid a growing standoff with Iran. Mike Pompeo touched down in Baghdad after canceling a trip to Germany. Washington is sending bombers and a carrier strike group to the region citing credible threats. U.S. officials say there's specific intelligence Iran and its allies

want to target U.S. forces. Pompeo says he spoke about that with Iraqi officials.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I talked to him about the importance to ensuring that we could adequately protect Americans and our country. (INAUDIBLE). And they understood that was the responsibility. (INAUDIBLE).


CHURCH: For more on what the U.S. says and are threats to its forces here's CNN correspondent Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We are now learning new details about what the threat is that Iran is posing in the Middle East that has the U.S. so concerned, one of the key reasons they decided to send an aircraft carrier strike group and an Air Force bomber group. What we now know is that U.S. intelligence is showing the Iranians are likely moving ballistics, short range ballistic missiles around by boat in the Persian Gulf area. A lot of concern they could be moving these missiles over to the Red Sea off of Yemen, where U.S. shipping comes out of the Suez Canal.

This is a very widespread area. The U.S. saying that it has multiple threats of intelligence that it is concerned about. But these ballistic missiles, here's the challenge: U.S. troops are already up and down the Persian Gulf in a number of locations. When missiles move around by boat, they're mobile.

If the Iranians were to be able to fire them off of boats and they move them around to shore locations, the U.S. is going to have a challenge in trying to track where all of this materiel is moving.

So one of the things they're talking about at the Pentagon is the possibility of sending additional force, additional firepower; it could be Patriot missile defense batteries. No decision has been made. They hope the aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers do the trick, that the Iranians will back off and they won't have to send the Patriots.

But right now a lot of concern about this growing threat -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


CHURCH: Pompeo's Iran trip came a day shy of the key anniversary, one year since U.S. left the Iran nuclear deal. Iran's using the occasion to announce they may abandon a part of the agreement. State media says that they will notify other countries that signed on to the deal and send a letter to the European Union. It's set to read in part, "Iran exercised restraint over the past

year. But the other parties to the deal failed to adhere to their commitments so that Iran had no other way but to reduce its commitments under the deal."

For more I'm joined by Ramin Mostaghim, a reporter from the "Los Angeles Times."

Good to speak with you. Amid this increasing tension with the United States and the military buildup, Iran is set to make this announcement about its commitment to the international nuclear pact that it signed back in 2015.

What more are you learning about this and what is Iran hoping to achieve by doing this?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, "L.A. TIMES": To my surprise the president, Hassan Rouhani, was toning down the tensions trying to express that Iran is not pulling from nuclear deal and he called it a surgery operation to save nuclear deal and then just 60 days ultimatum or deadline just to save it. And Iran sees that --


MOSTAGHIM: -- light at the end of the tunnel and they'll come out fighting the Americans, he and other officials in Iran including the foreign minister Zarif are stressing that we are not welcoming any military confrontation in Iran. And they tried their best to tone down the tensions and de-escalate tension in the Persian Gulf.

To my surprise it's very conciliatory, for reconciliations and resuming talks.

So this is showing peace to save the nuclear deal, nothing else. And it seems that Iran doesn't want to increase and escalate the tension in the region. And all the time he's emphasizing on a chance to resume talks and save the nuclear deal and be allowed to sell oil and gas and get money in return.

CHURCH: All right, Ramin Mostaghim, we will certainly keep an eye on the situation and for more reaction. Many thanks.

We will continue to track events in Iran. We will hear from CNN military analyst Col. Cedric Leighton later this hour.

At least six people are dead after a suicide bombing near a Sufi shrine in Lahore, Pakistan. Police say the attacker targeted officers who are posted outside the shrine. Pakistan's prime minister condemn the attack on the second day of Ramadan.

Global markets have been tanking since President Trump threatened new tariffs against children and investors are not happy about it. On Tuesday, the Dow had its worst day since January 3rd. Tumbling 473 points.

The Nasdaq dropped nearly 2 percent, falling below 8,000 points for the first time since April 18th. Asian markets are down right now but traders are hopeful China and the U.S. can make progress later this week when both sides return to negotiating table in Washington with the Chinese vice premier being part of the mix.

Our Steven Jiang joins us now from Beijing with more.

Steven, investors haven't been happy since President Trump threatened China with these tariffs. But Beijing is still sending its vice premier to the U.S. to continue trade talks.

So does this signal that there is still hope?

That a trade war can be averted?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Well, Rosemary, perhaps a glimmer of hope. But you're right; the fact that leadership has sent the vice premier to D.C. as planned is very important because, remember, just on Monday, there is a lot over the trip after Trump fired off tweets threatening China with more tariffs.

The leadership here broke their long-standing public stance of not negotiating under threats. Probably after carefully weighing pros and cons, then deciding that they cannot afford a complete breakdown of these talks at this juncture and this economic cost would be too high.

But even so, it's very hard to imagine the two sides could bridge their increasingly wide gap. According to U.S. officials, they could bridge this gap in just two days. As of now, if there is no major breakthrough, the Americans have said they would go ahead with these new tariffs.

But, of course, Trump could always pick up the phone to talk to the president if they can work something out.

But barring some major breakthrough, these U.S. terms and the Chinese will probably retaliate with their tariffs. So right now, Rosemary, the prospect of an escalation in this trade war is increasingly real.

CHURCH: Making it a very tense situation for investors and many others. Steven Jiang, many thanks to you and your latest from Beijing.

A night of high drama in the Champions League as Liverpool came from behind to knock out Barcelona and advancing to the finals. CNN "WORLD SPORT's" Don Riddell breaks down this historic victory.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, this has been an extraordinary Champions League season the drama has been unrelenting and we shouldn't be surprised by anything and any more.

We witness history as Liverpool produced a stunning comeback to eliminate Lionel Messi and Barcelona. The visitors won the first leg 3-0 but they made it 3-0 by early in the second half and this happened. Barca lost concentration at the corner. Their backs are turned as Trent Alexander-Arnold plugged it in to Divock Origi, who was only playing because of injury to Liverpool's star player. And he thrashed it into the top corner with a 4-0 lead and 4-3 on aggregate.

This was absolutely extraordinary. This was a comeback of epic proportions and it put Liverpool through to the Champions League final for the second consecutive year.


RIDDELL: Yet again, they never walked alone. This is what their manager had to say afterwards.


JURGEN KLOPP, LIVERPOOL MANAGER: Winning is already difficult but winning with a clean sheet, I don't know how the boys did it. Most of the children are already in bed but these boys are (INAUDIBLE) giants. It's unbelievable. Sorry for the language. You can fine me if you want.


RIDDELL: Football fans, sports fans famous athletes all over the world just couldn't help but react to this incredible performance. Three-time MBA champion LeBron James who is part owner of Liverpool, said, "Amazing night for the Reds. Wow. #YNWA."

Liverpool have done something like this before at the Champions League final in 2005 in against AC Milan. They were played off the park in the first half; 3-0 down at halftime and they came back to win that game. So there is just an inkling, a sense that they might do it again.

It seemed improbable but with Liverpool it was not impossible. What an amazing performance that was tonight. We will be talking about this game for a long, long time to come. Back to you.


CHURCH: A very short break but "The New York Times" has gotten hold of Trump's tax information from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s. Surprise, he's not the business success he claimed to be. Plus:


RIVERS (voice-over): We're here to film what we believe is a camp for Uyghurs and for Kazakhs and for Kyrgyz and for all ethnic Muslim minorities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who told you that?

CHURCH (voice-over): CNN travels to the far western region of China to get a rare firsthand look at its so-called detention camps. Back in a moment. (MUSIC PLAYING)



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Tax records obtained by "The New York Times" showed Donald Trump in the early '90s was less qualified to host "The Apprentice" and more like "The Biggest Loser."

The documents from 1985-1994 show Mr. Trump's businesses lost nearly $1.2 billion. In 1990 and '91 his core business losses were more than double the next closest taxpayers. "The Times" report says that Mr. Trump paid no income tax --


CHURCH: -- for eight of those 10 years.


SUSANNE CRAIG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Every year that we looked at, he lost money and the losses grew as he went further into the casinos and the losses that happened there. But it's unbelievable.

We would have thought at least in one of the years that we saw, maybe the year he wrote "Art of the Deal," he would have made money. He didn't. He was just bleeding money every year that we looked at in his businesses.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In certain years, Donald Trump according to your reporting lost more than nearly any other individual taxpayer in the United States, is that right?

CRAIG: Yes. It's incredible, because we had both his tax information that we are able to compare it to a database of people who make a fair bit of money. And it was a one-third sampling but even within that he was often years was the largest number for losses in America.

COOPER: He lost so much money did he pay income tax?

CRAIG: He paid income tax in two the 10 years. One of them was --

COOPER: Only two in 10 years?

CRAIG: Two it 10 years. It was alternate minimum tax in one of the years. And just why. One of them was because he had a big salary number one year because of a deal he did with Merv Griffin. So he paid the AMT. It wasn't a lot but only two of the 10 years.


COOPER: So he only paid a small amount those --

COOPER: So he only paid a small amount.

CRAIG: A very small amount. He hit the AMT two years.

COOPER: So why was he losing so much money?

CRAIG: Because his businesses just weren't doing well. They actually were doing horribly year in and year out. And he had some decent investments. You know, we saw them here and there. But always they were just -- the losses just flooded them. He would make money here but then he would lose money.

He had a foray into stock trading for example and there was years he would make money and then just lost it all the next year.


CHURCH: Well, a lawyer for the president said "The Times" information is demonstrably false but he failed to provide any specifics.

The Democrats in the U.S. House could vote in the upcoming hours to hold the attorney general William Barr in contempt for the Congress. They want the Justice Department to turn over the full unredacted Mueller report to no avail.

The DOJ says that if Democrats go through the contempt vote, the White House being compared to invoke executive over the entire Mueller report. The Senate's top Republican is also standing with the White House.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The special counsel's finding is clear. Case closed. Case closed. This ought to be good news for everyone. But my Democratic colleagues seem to be publicly working through the five stages of grief.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: So our leader says let's move on. It's sort of like Richard Nixon saying let's move on at the height of the investigation of his wrongdoing. Of course he wants to move on. He wants to cover it up. He wants to silence one of the most serious issues we face, whether a foreign power can manipulate our elections, the wellspring of our democracy.



CHURCH: Scott Lucas is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England and he joins me now via Skype.

Good to have you with us.

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, Rosemary. CHURCH: All right, a lot to cover. Let's start with taxes and according to the New York Times tax records from 1985 to 1994 show that Donald Trump's businesses lost more than $1.1 billion and he paid no income tax for eight of those years.

Could this possibly be the reason why Mr. Trump refuses to release his tax records?

LUCAS: Well, I remember during the campaign Donald Trump bragged that he didn't have to pay taxes to the government and that prove how clever he was. Well, now we know the real reason.

The story is not entirely new. We have known in general that Trump has exaggerated his wealth. In 2011, he dropped the lawsuit against an author Timothy O'Brien who made that claim when O'Brien called for the disclosure of Trump's records.

But the scale of the losses more than a billion dollars, that's pretty significant. The bottom line is, Rosemary, that in many ways Donald Trump was saved after six bankruptcies not because he was skilled a businessman but because he became a reality TV star through "The Apprentice" and then through the World Wrestling Federation.

That's certainly is an interesting way to regain one's public position. But the idea of "The Art of the Deal" you know, it already was an illusion.

Does it affect his political standing?

That I doubt.

CHURCH: Right. Well, no doubt there will be more information on this.

So, I want to move to the Democrats that they want to vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress if he resists calls to provide them with unredacted Mueller report. And that's certainly what is happening here.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell --


CHURCH: -- we heard he says, move on, case is closed. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says moving on would be tantamount to a cover-up. How big though, is the risk to Democrats that they'll look like they're overreaching here and getting too political if they push this too hard? It's been two years this the Mueller report a lot of the public are sort of going let's just move on from here.

LUCAS: I don't want to go down that line, Rosemary, because if you talk about risk to Democrats, you're playing the White House game. They are the ones that are saying look, we won't be damaged. It's the Democrats if they continue to call for the information and testimony about the scale of the Russian interference in the 2016 election and about Donald Trump's financial matters. And that's the bottom line. Look, imagine what the threat is now. That the question today was going to be could there be a contempt of court -- Congress charge largely against the Attorney General William Barr for not providing unredacted copies of the Mueller report to Congress.

And how does the White House respond? If you pursue this contempt to Congress charge against William Barr to get unredacted copies of the Mueller report we won't give you the unredacted copies of the Mueller report.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, they're saying they'll invoke executive privilege over the whole of the Mueller report.

What would that mean?

LUCAS: Look, you know, executive privilege is just basically where they are saying, everybody go away. Now what it means practically is, is that despite the fact that executive privilege probably does not apply to much of the Mueller report because it doesn't concern direct conversations between the president and his officials. This would involve a legal fight.

In other words, what the White House is saying is whether it's contempt for William Barr, whether it's demands for the unredacted report, whether it's subpoenas for other witnesses, whether it's the demand for Donald Trump's financial records.

We're going to take all of this into the courts because we'll gamble it will take so long to get this through the courts. By the time we get any decision, it will be the 2020 reelection. And we'll take our chances at the polls rather than actually being transparent.

CHURCH: Right. OK. So here is how Speaker Nancy Pelosi on what she thinks President Trump is trying to do right now.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Trump is goading us to impeach him. He is taunting, taunting, taunting because he knows that will be very divisive in the country and he doesn't really care. He just wants to solidify his base.


CHURCH: So essentially Pelosi warning Democrats here not to take Trump's impeachment bait. And the big question is will that work as calls grow louder within her own party to do exactly that, to go down that road.

LUCAS: Well, we know that the Democrats have debated how quickly to pursue this and that carries on. But the reality is that, we're now in the mode of will there be full hearings, especially through the House committee about the financial matters and about the extent of the Trump Russia links. If those hearings are blocked at every turn by the White House then you can take the next step to say whether in fact the Mueller report has enough in it especially over obstruction of justice to pursue an impeachment.

But first, you try to have the hearings. And that's where we are. And practically speaking, this debate between Democrats will go on.

But we are looking at the next two or three months to keep your focus on those hearings, if they're held are there enough grounds to impeach Donald Trump?

If they are blocked are there enough grounds to impeach Trump anyway. And will probably be at that position during the summer to make a decision.

CHURCH: Political gamesmanship on show from both sides. We'll keep an eye on what happens here. Scott Lucas bringing us some analysis on the topic. I appreciate it.

LUCAS: Thank you, Rosemary.


CHURCH: Well, the polls have been open for about an hour now in South Africa and a key test for the ruling African National Congress. Voters are casting their ballots in parliamentary and provincial elections, 400 seats in the national assembly are at stake, 48 separate parties are in the running, more than 26 million South Africans are registered to vote at about 23,000 polling stations. CNN's David McKenzie is at one of those polling stations and he joins us now live.

Good to see you, David.

It's early yet.

But how much enthusiasm have you seen on the streets for these elections and what's being said about the likely outcome?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, any election in South Africa is an extraordinary event given the history of this country. I'm here in Soweto, one of busiest polling stations in this part of the country. You see people moving from that side, they come to the offices to get their ballot papers, which is pretty long with all the parties.


MCKENZIE: There are a few parties here, the ANC, the opposition DEA and an insurgent leftist party, the EFF, who are vying for votes of South Africans. One of the things that struck me this morning was the yearning for change.

Even though all of this time a democracy, it is a young democracy but over 25 years, South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. There's a large gap in the rich and the poor and it has actually grow.

That's something I heard from a number of voters. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're voting for change. We're voting for a better future for our kids and for ourselves. (INAUDIBLE) worried about. There's corruption, crime. Yes. And (INAUDIBLE).

MCKENZIE: What do you think will spark the change?

What will make things accelerate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have considered.


MCKENZIE: You've been waiting too long?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes. You just (INAUDIBLE) go voting until vote comes back.



MCKENZIE: You see Sheila (ph) there, saying that there hasn't been enough change. She described how some people have waited for more than 20 years for a government house and they haven't got it. The ANC has made big strides in this country, giving people housing, electricity and education.

But there is a sense because the allegations of corruption, service delivery as they call it here, the rolling blackouts with electricity. There's a sense of disaffection, particularly with the young people I've spoken to.

Millions of them, the so-called born free generation, born after the end of apartheid, have told me that they are just not bothering even to register. And the apathy amongst the young is very disturbing to people here, many of them physically fought that apartheid regime. For them the vote, the franchise to vote in South Africa, is a very sacred thing.

CHURCH: Sadly we do see that. A number of the younger generations throughout the globe. Hopefully that will change. David McKenzie giving us the latest from those elections, many thanks.

We'll take a short break here. Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM. The U.S. accuses China of putting the Muslim majority in brutal detention camps. CNN travels to the region for a rare firsthand look at what's happening there.

Plus, vice president Mike Pence says the U.S. would consider sanctions relief for any Venezuelan official who breaks away from President Nicolas Maduro. But will anyone take up the offer?

We'll take a look.


[02:30:17] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. Tax documents obtained by the New York Times show that Donald Trump's businesses lost more than a billion dollars between 1995 and 1994. The Times says Mr. Trump paid no income taxes for eight of those years.

The President's lawyer says that information is demonstrably false and failed to provide specifics. Hopes for a trade truce between China and the U.S. remain uncertain ahead of this week's talks in Washington. Global markets have been tanking since President Trump threatened new tariffs against China them on Sunday. China has said that raising tariffs won't resolve any issues.

Liverpool are headed to the way for EUFA Champions League final after a stunning victory over Barcelona. The English clubs scored four goals on Tuesday overturning a three-goal deficit after the first leg last week. They will play in the final next month against the winner of Wednesday's matchup between the Spurs and Ajax.

We are tracking new developments out of Iran. The country's president Hassan Rouhani says Iran might abandon parts of the 2015 nuclear deal within the next 60 days. The announcement comes one year after the U.S. left the deal. Iran says other signatories have two months to implement their commitments to the deal or Iran will "reduce its time." All this comes after the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced trip to Iraq on Tuesday.

As the U.S. And Iran are locked into a standoff. Washington is sending bombers and a carrier strike group to the region starting credible threats. U.S. officials say there is specific intelligence that Iran and its allies were to target U.S. forces. CNN Military Analyst Cedric Leighton joins me now to talk more about all of this. Thank you so much for being with us.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You bet, Rosemary. It's always a pleasure.

CHURCH: So in the midst of rising U.S.-Iranian tension, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blew off his scheduled meeting Germany's Angela Merkel and instead made a surprise visit to Iraq to warn a possible attacks from Iran. What did you make of the timing of this and what might it signal?

LEIGHTON: Well, there are several things that it could signal, Rosemary. What we're looking at here is a lot of Iranian movement that in some cases I think has surprised some on the Trump administration. Those of us who watched Iran for a while know that these kinds of activities have been going on for years and this is -- seems to be least the standard procedures that the Iranians used in order to signal their displeasure with certain things.

And in case I think what the Iranian are most concerned about is the fact that the Iranian revolutionary guards have been declared a terrorist organization. And they of course have other issues that they're dealing with but that is something that has an effect on them economically because of the sanctions that can be imposed. So the fact that the Secretary of State came instead of going to Germany, he came directly to Iraq to warn the Iraqis about this is and perhaps for the Iraqis not very much news because they know about Iranian activity.

In some cases they work with the Iranians and they understand them a lot better than the United States does.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, Iran is apparently moving missiles around in boats and additionally Secretary Pompeo told Iraqi officials more about the increase and possibly imminent threat from Iran to U.S. forces inside Iraq and that's apparently why a carrier strike group was sent to the region. What's your reaction to all of that?

LEIGHTON: Well, the curious strike group, you know, you can read that in two ways. I think it's being deployed a little bit earlier than its normal rotational schedule, would indicate but it's also true that the United States puts its carrier battle routes into positions in the Middle East on a fairly standard and fairly routine basis. The main reason for that is to send the Iranians a message that we are here to not only protect our allies and our forces but also to keep sea lanes (INAUDIBLE) and the rest of the Persian Gulf open to international shipping.

And of course in this case it means also open to the flow of oil. So what we're seeing here is a reaction perhaps a bit of an overreaction to what the Iranians would do normally. The Iranians are looking at this though as a potential provocations and we have to be very careful if this doesn't get out of hand.

[02:35:01] CHURCH: That is the big concern when you see this sort of buildup on both sides. And Secretary Pompeo's trip to Iraq of course came as we learn that know that Iran plans to announce it will reduce its commitment to the joint comprehensive plan of action. A year after the U.S. announced its departure from the nuclear deal. How significant is that?

LEIGHTON: I think it's very significant because of course the Europeans such as Germany and the other members of the E.U. are very interested in keeping the Iran nuclear agreement in force and they want to make sure that the Iranians comply with it. Up until this point, all indications even from U.S. intelligence have been (INAUDIBLE) complied with the agreement. If the Iranians don't comply with this agreement or start not complying with it, then what we'll see is an inevitable escalation and tensions and it's going to be much harder to put the Iranian nuclear (INAUDIBLE) back into the bottle.

This is going to be a very difficult diplomatic issue and perhaps a military issue and it's going to affect the security of our forces in all parts of the Middle East, not just in the parts that are directly across from Iran and across the Persian Gulf from Iran but the forces that are in Iraq and in Syria. And it's going to affect some significant consequences some of which we can directly foresee at this point.

CHURCH: All right. Always great to get your military analysis on matters as sensitive as this. Thank you so much, sir.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Rosemary. Anytime.

CHURCH: Well, China says it has nothing to hide but Muslim families claim they are being torn apart in crackdown by Chinese authorities. The U.S. says millions are being held in the northwest of the country. It says that's where Muslim Uighur people are being placed in detention camps. Something China calls vocational training centers. CNN's Matt Rivers and his team traveled to some of the most remote parts of China for a rare look at these camps.

And Matt joins us now from Beijing. So, Matt, what all did you see?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we saw things that China would call vocational training centers that are clearly not vocational training centers. They're prisons. They have lots of barbed wire they got guard towers, you can't go inside, you can't talk to people who have been inside. This is clearly something China doesn't want us to see. And Rosemary, it's not only Uighur Muslim, it's all ethnic Muslim minorities that are being subject to what critics would say is a completely arbitrary way of detaining people in Xinjiang with the express purpose of eliminating Islam within Chinese borders.

And furthermore making sure that ethnic minorities are being so-called sinicized or becoming like the ethnic Han people that dominate most of the rest of the country. As a result of this, we wanted to go see these camps but also look at the human toll here because what China is doing in Western China is ripping families apart.


RIVERS: The bedroom hasn't changed since they left. Stuffed animals on the bed, their clothes and the closet. Their grandmother won't change it. She says, it still smells like them. Ansila (ph) and Nusila (ph), ages eight and seven left their home in Kazakhstan to go to China with their mother Adiba (ph) in 2017. Adiba grew up in China so she went back for a short visit to see some family and take a few classes in Xinjiang in northwest China.

Her husband Justin (ph) and young son (INAUDIBLE) stayed home, but shortly after they arrived, Adiba and her daughters disappeared because they went back at the wrong time. Xinjiang is the region where the U.S. says China has put up to two million people nearly all Muslims in detention camps over the last few years. Activist say Beijing has done that to try to eliminate Islam within its borders.

And ex-detainees have told CNN they were tortured inside while undergoing political indoctrination. Adiba and her family are Muslim, her husband Justin says a relative told him his wife was put inside a camp while his daughters were sent to live with distant relatives. He hasn't heard from many of them in nearly two years. When he sees young women in the neighborhood, he calls them mama, Justin says, he doesn't even know what his own mother looks like.

China says these camps aren't prisons but voluntary vocational training centers that are being used to not eliminate Islamic generally, only Islamic extremism. The government has linked to past terror attacks in the region. So authorities play propaganda videos like this one on state-run T.V. to show happy Muslims, cheerfully learning. They interview some who have supposedly been "reformed." Steered away from a life of terrorism. But even if that's true, Justin says that still does not explain why his wife was locked off.

[02:40:05] My wife is not a terrorist, he says, she has nothing to do with it. I can't express with words how much pain I feel when I think of her there. We asked Chinese authorities what happened to Adiba, they did not replied to our question. So we went to Xinjiang ourselves to some of the most remote parts of China, traveling thousands of miles in all. We went to six places, both to see what is happening here and in one town, to try to and find Adiba.

Ethnic Muslim minorities have lived here for centuries, Uighurs, Kazakhs and others culturally distinct from the Han Chinese who dominate the rest of the country. But now, every day, they're force to prove that they're not a threat to the state. Cameras watch their every move in some places positioned every 50 meters. While Han Chinese regularly breathe through the myriad police roadblocks, anyone we saw who appeared to be a minority got stopped.

Racial profiling appears rampant. But all of that is likely still better than life for those that end up in places like this. Detention camps designed for Muslim ethnic minorities like this one outside the City of Kashgar. What China calls a job training site to us, looked a lot more like a prison. High walls, barbed wire, guarded towers, things multiple experts told CNN are telltale signs of detention centers.

Images like these are rare. Few people have seen camps like this up close because China's government tries to prevent reporters like us from seeing them. A police officer soon reminded us of that fact.

What's happening here is that this police officer does not want us to film. But what we believe is that that's a camp right there. This is as close we're able to get. And right over there, we believe are family members presumably who could family members inside that camp and they're waiting to see them.

China says it has nothing to hide here. But not only do they obstruct attempts to film or go inside the camps, they also prevent us from speaking to those who know anything about them. We try to talk to this man who just brought through to his brother who he says is being held in the camp, but before we could ask about life inside, playing close security surrounded us and told the man to be quiet.

There are camps like these all across Xinjiang, nearly 1,000 miles away. We took a train to the City of Turpan to see another same type prison-like walls, same kind of secrecy and the minute after we arrive, same kind of police harassment.

Ma'am, can you tell me what that is? Is this something that you don't want us to see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why you are here? You tell me. Why you are here? Why you are here?

RIVERS: We're here to film what we believe is a camp for Uighurs, and for Kazakhs and for (INAUDIBLE) and for all ethnic Muslim minorities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who told you that? Who told you that?

RIVERS: She threatened to arrest us and demanded we delete our footage. So we had to leave. Our last top is the town of (INAUDIBLE) where Adiba's family says she was detained. Her husband Justin believe she has since been let out of the camp and is back living with her daughters. But Justin was told they can't leave China because officials took away Adiba's passport. He has no way to contact her and fears he could be ended up in a camp himself if he went to find her, so we try to find Adiba ourselves.

But as soon as we arrive in town, traffic police block our and officials who had been following us insist on a group dinner. We declined strongly, saying no, no, no. But, in the end, we've got no choice. As Muslim minorities languish in camps not far away, government officials drink liquor and dance to folk music. It is an absurd scene, but we can't leave. And so, we were unable to find Adiba and we couldn't deliver this message.

What Justin wanted us to share if we found her. "Our son and I have been waiting and will always wait for you. You are the love of my life."


RIVERS: And not only did China not us to film those images as you saw in our report, Rosemary, but they also don't want has to be broadcasting them and so what you're seeing on your screen now is a live image of CNN signal here and China. And we've been blacked out. Chinese government sensors have control over whether the CNN signal can be broadcast inside mainland China where we are.

And they have decided that this is a story that they don't want the world to see. Frankly, we're not surprised, this has been happening every time we talk about Uighurs and other Muslims in these camps but we just wanted to show our viewers here that China clearly is trying to cover this up. They can't control CNN signal outside of China, but in here, let's say you're in a western hotel, and you're watching CNN, well, all you're going to see right now is what you see on our screen, which is a blackout screen.

China has a lot to hide in Xinjiang, and they demonstrate that consistently by their cover-up style actions. Rosemary.

[02:45:12] CHURCH: Matt Rivers, a powerful report. Thank you so much for that. We appreciate it. And tomorrow, we will have more of Matt's travels to China's northwest. He and his crew were met with round-the-clock government surveillance that made it all too difficult for them.


RIVERS: He and, at least, a dozen others followed us every single hour of our six-day trip. Never more than 20 feet away. In the car, in the train station, in the hotel, in the room next to mine.

So, it's a bit of an odd feeling to be in your hotel room at 1:00 in the morning and knowing that on the other side of this connecting door which leads to the room next door to mine, there's, at least, three, four other guys who have been following us around over the past couple of days.


CHURCH: And be sure to watch his "REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK" from Xinjiang. That's Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. in New York, 6 a.m. Thursday in Hong Kong, only here on CNN.

We'll take a short break here.


CHURCH: "BREAKING NEWS", just in, to CNN. Asia Bibi the Pakistani woman who was freed from death row is now in Canada. Last year, she won an appeal on her 2010 conviction for blasphemy. CNN producer Sophia Saifi joins us now live from Islamabad, Pakistan with more on this. So, what are you learning?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, we know for a fact from Asia Bibi's lawyer Saif Ul Malook that Asia Bibi has after a decade of battling these blasphemy charges, finally left Pakistan.

She's been out of the country for more than 24 hours. We can report that it has been a long ordeal, and it has been confirmed by her lawyer to CNN that she is no longer within Pakistan.

There had been a series of different accusations leveled against her. The main one being of blasphemy. She spent almost a decade in jail after which she was acquitted of all charges back in October, which led to massive riots across the country from extremist organizations who were against her release against her freedom. There had been a period of quiet after that while the government and the military tried to calm down these other extremist factors within the country, and suddenly, overnight, in the early hours of this morning, we started to receive chatter that Asia Bibi has finally been freed. That she's finally free to live her life, and she is out of Pakistan. Rosemary?

[02:50:16] CHURCH: And so, Sophia, do we know if her family is with her at this time, and what sort of reaction is there likely to be in Pakistan to this news?

SAIFI: Well, Rosemary, we do not know the exact details of her family. There is some chatter that her family has accompanied her to Canada that has not been confirmed independently by us here on the ground. There are still some sort of safety precautions to be taken into account. You know, there is the fact that she has gone to Canada, but then, there is the safety of Canadian officials, Canadian diplomats within Pakistan.

The diplomatic enclave within the capital of Islamabad has a lot of security around it. But then, there is the fact that this is the month of Ramazan. This is the month when religious fervor is kind of higher than other months.

And there is this -- you know, they're just, just a couple of hours ago, there was an attack at a Sufi shrine, outside a Sufi shrine, in the second largest city of Lahore. So, there is an uncertain security situation within the country.

The factors, the extremist organization, (INAUDIBLE) Pakistan, which had protested against Asia have been quelled by the military. But then, again, there many other minor, smaller extremist factions and organizations within Pakistan that could blossom up and cause riots within the country.

There is a moment of calm, it's a hot May afternoon, there is the understanding that people are fasting and are unlikely to come out in droves in this heat. But for right now, we'll just have to wait and monitor to see how this situation unfolds. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Sophia Saifi, joining us there from Islamabad in Pakistan, where we can report that Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was in Pakistan has been freed from death row, she is now in Canada.

We'll continue to follow that story and bring you more details as they come in to us. Let's take a very short break. A humanitarian crisis in Mozambique threatens to become even worse as disease follows on the heels of two devastating cyclones. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: Rideshare drivers in more than a dozen cities at a strike Wednesday, ahead of Uber's Wall Street debut. Now, local drivers and labor groups have organized action in major cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and across South America, to send a message to Uber and Lyft that drivers want a livable income, job security, and regulated fares. Drivers in Los Angeles are to stop working for 24 hours. And in New York, a two-hour strike is scheduled during the busy commute.

Well, desperation in Mozambique. Recent cyclones ravaged the country and now residents are facing a new danger, cholera. Our CNN's Amara Walker reports the current humanitarian crisis could get even worse.


AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: First, there was Idai, then, came Kenneth. Dealing with two cyclones in five weeks has had a devastating effect on Mozambique. Hundreds were killed in both storms. Many more have lost the little they had, and thousands are homeless or living in tents in desperate need of food and medicine.

[02:55:08] AL HALIFF, CYCLONE VICTIM IN MOZAMBIQUE (through translator): I have nothing that left. The cyclone destroyed everything. And with seven children, life is simply and really struggle. If anyone can help, I will be grateful.

WALKER: Cyclone Kenneth also damaged hospitals and destroyed medical equipment. And it's a struggle to get supplies to the many in need due to block roads, fallen power lines, and poor communications.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The computers in the hospital are all broken. A lot of our medical equipment has been soaked in water. The medicine is also wet, and only a small amount is still usable.

WALKER: The immediate danger right now is disease. Health officials have already confirmed one outbreak of cholera in the northern part of the country. And they warned that many others remain at risk.

STEPHANE DUJARRIC, SPOKESPERSON FOR UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: The World Health Organization tells us today that nearly 190,000 people are in need of health assistance, or at risk of diseases in Mozambique. Due to the lack of accessibility, the full extent of the damage to the health system is not known, at least, 17 health facilities have been damaged. But this number is expected to rise.

WALKER: For eight officials, it's a race against time to access isolated communities before disease since the death toll even higher. Amara Walker, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: And to find out how you can help with relief efforts in Mozambique, just go to

A little boy who lost his leg in a land mine explosion when he was eight months old is showing the world how to deal with the setback. Here he is. This is the moment Ahmad Rahman got a prosthetic leg at an international Red Cross center in Afghanistan, recently. His dance delighted himself and others who clapped and cheered him on.

What a remarkable young man. And the video went viral as you might imagine. According to a Red Cross report, Ahmad is one of about 46,000 amputees in Afghanistan. That's extraordinary.

Thank you so much for watching. I'm Rosemary Church. Remembered to connect with me anytime on Twitter, and I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.