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Two Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman; Trump Refutes FBI Director on Foreign Interference, Democrats Quick to Call for Impeachment; Critics Say Hong Kong Police Used Excessive Force; Amanda Knox in Italy. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 13, 2019 - 11:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): Wonderful to have you along. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta. A lot of

news to get through this hour.

So we begin with a new attack and new tensions in the Middle East. Two tankers were targeted in the Gulf of Oman. Incredible video here from

Iran. Crew members from both vessels were rescued. That's good news, with only one person injured.

This comes a month after several tankers were sabotaged in the nearby Strait of Hormuz. Iranian backed forces were blamed then but Tehran denies


These waterways are critical in the shipment of oil. Oil prices jumped early on today.

CNN's Gul Tuysuz is in Abu Dhabi; Nic Robertson is monitoring events from London. He's been in the region recently. A journalist, Ramin Mostaghim

is in Tehran and our military analyst, John Kirby, is in Washington. We've got this covered on all angles.

Gul, you're there. You're watching the situation.

So what's the latest?

We know that at least some of the crews are now in Iran, I understand.

GUL TUYSUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is obviously still a developing story but here's what we know so far.

Firstly, these are huge vessels but they're commercial vessels so they really don't have a way to defend themselves. Both of them came under

attack with explosions and fires on board while sailing through the Gulf of Oman.

Both of them are carrying really risky cargo. One is carrying oil, the other one is carrying chemicals. The oil tanker sent out a distress signal

just before 7:00 in the morning, reporting the sound of three loud explosions on board; 74 minutes later, a nearby ship got there and managed

to save all 23 crew members on board.

They handed them over to the Iranian Navy for safekeeping. So now the 11 Russian, 11 Filipino and one Georgian crew members are in the custody of

Iran. They're safe and sound, it seems, for now. That's ship number one.

The second ship was carrying methanol. The operator of that ship told CNN earlier it was hit by, quote, "some sort of shell," not once but twice.

The first shot hit it above sea level and sparked a fire. But luckily the crew were able to put it out. We're not sure about the damage the second

shell caused.

The crew on board is safe and they're with the American Navy at this point. One of them was injured. The operator of that ship says the crew members

rescued are heading back here to the UAE.

For the ships themselves, they're both still floating in the waters of the Gulf of Oman. Those waters are very important for the global economy.

About one-third of the world's crude oil passes through there.

So any instability there can have cascading effects on the global economy. That's a big worry. But this is also the Middle East, which means there

are concerns that this could lead to implications, political and militarily, that could trigger this powder keg region.

CURNOW: It's certainly a tinderbox. I think that's the concern. You talked there about the economic consequences. The broader geopolitics also

a concern. We know that Japan's prime minister is actually in Iran right now. In fact, the foreign minister tweeted the attacks happened while

Shinzo Abe (sic) was meeting with the ayatollah.

Javad Zarif says, take a look at this tweet, "Suspicion doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning."

Ramin, what else are we hearing from Tehran and what's the suggestion here from the foreign minister, that the Iranians have somehow been set up?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, "L.A. TIMES": I think the easing tension region of Shinzo Abe (sic), the prime minister of Japan, has already been torpedoed for

likely and eloquently by supreme leader Ali Khamenei through the morning while the explosion happened in the Persian Gulf.

The supreme leader politely said that there is no trust to the American administration. Even he has stipulated that honesty is a scarcity

commodity among the American statesmen. He stipulated that --


MOSTAGHIM: -- he didn't trust President Obama, let alone Trump, as he said.

So Iranian establishment is not going to negotiate or renegotiate with America. And supreme leader stipulated that never, ever will talk and even

the message of President Trump doesn't deserve to be answered by him.

So what we need just to say that this dialogue, potential easing tension, has been torpedoed. So and now another blow (INAUDIBLE) to this

escalations is the explosion, breaking the news of the explosion of the vessels.

It seems that deescalating and deconflicting mission of Shinzo Abe (sic), the prime minister, has already been torpedoed. So I think there is no

hope for the time being until further notice for deescalating the tensions in the Persian Gulf. And any minor incident can lead to the major incident

in the Persian Gulf and unpredictable future.

CURNOW: Fascinating insight.

John Kirby, I just want to go to you now. You were a State Department spokesperson under the Obama regime. You're also a Navy man. What we're

hearing is Iran feels like this is some sort of incident to sabotage this mediation attempt by the Japanese and the Iranian leadership.

What do you make of that?

ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Honestly, I don't find that a very credible claim by the Iranians. They're basically

asking you to believe that either the United States or a nation state or an actor under our guidance and permission and counsel conducted these attacks

to specifically affect prime minister Abe's visit and/or to further cripple the Iranian regional dialogue that they're trying to have, the economic

dialogue that they're trying to have.

And I just don't find that credible at all. Now we don't know who did this and we don't know exactly why. But having sailed those waters myself,

having seen the attacks just happened recently, having talked to military officials, certainly all eyes are on the Revolutionary Guard naval

component, the IRGC Navy, that's capable of doing this, willing to do this either to further destabilize the region and put pressure on the United

States, who has just now added more forces to the region, and/or to be able to claim the victim, which is kind of what their foreign ministry statement

by Zarif kind of says, to claim the victim, to try to get the West, particularly European allies that are opposed to the United States, because

we pulled out of the Iran deal, to come to their side on this.

So it's very difficult to know what happened here and we need to remember that the Revolutionary Guard Navy does not report directly to the civil

authorities in Tehran. In fact, they don't even always report to the supreme leader. They're capable and have conducted operations in the past

unilaterally on their own.

So it's very difficult to know exactly what happened here but I think all eyes need to be on them right now.

CURNOW: Nic, when we talk about these actual attacks, can you just play out the timing and also how similar or not similar they are to the

incidents from last month?

What do you make of the actual M.O. here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think when you look at the attacks that happened off the coast of the Emirates, those ships

were at anchor so they were stationary and they were targeted by relatively small mines.

This was sort of a pinprick strike. The importance of the port at Fujairah is it is the end of an oil pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz.

Those ships were targeted. And it was read as a message. No one was injured, the ships didn't sink, didn't burst into flames.

But there was a second message within a couple of days and this also affected a strategic oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia that also bypasses the

Strait of Hormuz. It takes oil from the east of Saudi to the west of Saudi to the Red Sea.

So there's a message here. That message that was understood in the region is that, whoever it is, is sending a message about the Strait of Hormuz;

they're also saying don't worry because you're not safe if you're trying to bypass it through the Saudi pipeline.

The strikes today involved the crews needing to abandon ship, somebody being injured. These ships were underway. They were --


ROBERTSON: -- moving targets. And unlike the ships near Fujairah, it wasn't small limpet mines that were attached to the backs of those ships,

which is a relatively easy target to get to. They were broadsided by, in one case, two explosive shells and in another case by three explosions.

So this is really -- if that was a message, this is really ramping up that message. And I think just to add some more clarity here, when Iran wants

to try to pressure the international community -- I'm thinking here of 2008, 2012 -- it threatens to affect the shipping on the Strait of Hormuz.

The Strait of Hormuz is Iran's go-to leverage over the world to get what it wants. The message in the Emirates resulted in Shinzo Abe (sic) being in

Tehran for talks to try to deescalate the tensions. Who knows who started them.

But the Iranians are getting what they want, they're getting a conversation to try to get what they want from the international community. And the

Strait of Hormuz are the place that's being used as leverage to achieve it.

CURNOW: OK, thanks to you all. So many different variations on what has happened, what the implications are. John Kirby, Nic Robertson, Gul Tuysuz

and Ramin Mostaghim, thank you all for joining us.

Let's also get another perspective. On the phone right now is Col. Turki al-Malki, the spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in


Sir, thank you very much for joining us. So there is no proof as to who caused these attacks. The Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted

that suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning. The implication from the Iranians is that another state actor has

deliberately targeted these vessels to damage Iran's reputation.

What is your response to that?

COL. TURKI AL-MALKI, SAUDI-LED COALITION: Thank you for having me. Let's look to the situation in the region and what the Houthi are doing in Yemen

and what they are doing (INAUDIBLE) Saudi Arabia --


CURNOW: Let's just talk about today's response and today's attack.

AL-MALKI: Say again, please?

CURNOW: Let's just talk about your response to those comments from the Iranians today and the focus on today's attacks.

AL-MALKI: I'm trying to lead to the point. So if we look and collect all those serious acts, the campaign in the region, there is a (INAUDIBLE) so

obviously (INAUDIBLE) around the region and around the world.

The similarity in between what happened last month and what happened today and what's happening in the (INAUDIBLE) the Houthi. So what we can say is

all these are connected as terrorist acts (INAUDIBLE).

CURNOW: Sir, what discussions have you had, has Saudi had with allies, in particular the U.S.?

What about response?

And how far is Saudi willing to go to protect shipping in the Gulf?

AL-MALKI: Well, I would like to make it very clear here because I'm talking about Yemen. However, we know that things are connected if we look

to the situation in the region between (INAUDIBLE).

The (INAUDIBLE) four years now; we are preserving the peace and stability in the battlement (ph) and also in the southern (INAUDIBLE). What we are

doing is part of our contribution to the war, how we are preserving the peace and stability and we can compare by the evidence that we have given

to the United Nations and the evidence that we have shown to the world how the Iranian are involved and supporting the Houthi and they are undermining

and they are working to destabilize the region.

CURNOW: Sir, you're speaking about Yemen but this is also a concern about broader tensions, what appears to be some sort of escalation. It's unclear

who's responsible and why and the timing of this. We know that Saudi's prince Khaled has threatened appropriate measures.

What would they be?

AL-MALKI: Well, yes, again, (INAUDIBLE) for the commission in Yemen. But as I said, there are the section lines (ph) between the (INAUDIBLE)

happening in the region and also what we are doing and the commission (ph) in Yemen.

We have taken (INAUDIBLE) we are escorting every single ship that's gone through the battlement (ph). And we are protecting the commercial ships

and (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) very important point. What's been brought by the panel of experts report last -- this year 2019, how (INAUDIBLE) Iranian

workmen (ph) -- and we are talking about the (INAUDIBLE) being used to be against the ship and the battlement (ph) there.


AL-MALKI: So again, we are taking the media (ph) and I'm sure that the responsibility toward the whole world that they need to put the

accountability toward the Iranian regime. They are escalating the grip (ph) around the region.

CURNOW: Col. Turki al-Malki, thanks for that. Great to get your perspective. Thank you very much for joining us.

And I do have exclusive but disturbing videos to show our viewers from an airport attack in Saudi Arabia just yesterday. Please turn away if you

need to, viewers. We have these calm moments before the attack. You're looking at the arrivals hall. Then comes the explosion.

Colonel, you say this was caused by a Houthi missile; 26 people wounded in the incident, no one killed.

When you talk about these attacks at sea, even though they're unproven as to who caused them, this image that we're seeing now, is this the biggest

attack in Saudi Arabia?

And Nic Robertson, as you look at these, how much worse are things getting?

ROBERTSON: So to answer the question, how much worse are things getting, you know, what the Saudis have presented us, with evidence going back well

over a year and a half now, is Houthis using Iranian made ballistic missiles. And they've sent those same pieces of missile to the United


And the United Nations in its report has said that the Houthis are getting weaponry from Iran. What the Houthis have been doing -- and the logic

behind the reasons for doing this is not fully clear -- they've been targeting Saudi airports. They've been targeting Riyadh International


Just a couple of weeks ago the Saudis intercepted Houthi ballistic missiles at the port of Jeddah during the pilgrimage, when there would have been

millions of people there. There was a missile intercepted again near the airport in the south.

So the Houthis have been targeting using these ballistic missiles, Saudi airports. Now this incident has happened and one has finally hit an

airport and injured civilians. This has sort of been an accident, if you will, or an intended accident waiting to happen.

Now the precise -- who makes the missile and then who decides to fire it and when and at what target, who decides and what target appears to be the

Houthis. There's certainly an amount of evidence that these missiles at least owe their construction in part to Iran.

So the notion that the Houthis are backed to a degree by Iran is one that the U.N. supports. But it does create that atmosphere of uncertainty and

concern now for Saudi citizens that, if they go to one of their international airports, they could be hit by a missile flying in from


But any other calculation or statement, one would generally call this a war that's crossing borders. That's a politically sensitive statement to make

inside Saudi Arabia right now but of course it drives the political thinking in Saudi. And they see Iran to blame over the border in Yemen for

backing the Houthis and destabilizing the region.

The Saudis put in a huge amount of money to support the economy inside Yemen while, at the same time, bombing the cities there, targeting the

Houthis. This adds to tension and instability in the region.

So that attack on the airport and that attack on those ships today, from a Saudi perspective, this looks very much like Iran's destabilization. And

in a way, that's -- the international community may not agree with that assessment. But that's where the Saudi viewers -- and they're the

significant player in the region right now.

CURNOW: And questions about how they react or how nations across the region react and whether restraint is the order of the day here. Nic

Robertson in London, thank you so much.

So, of course, oil prices have jumped after the attack on those tankers. Here's a look at the markets right now. Our Clare Sebastian will be along

a little later in the show for more reaction from the financial world.

But still to come, Democrats are slamming U.S. President Trump as a national security threat after he made some stunning remarks about

accepting election help from foreign adversaries.

And protesters and police face off again in Hong Kong and the legislature is in lockdown following those clashes. We'll go live to Hong Kong.


CURNOW: Also, a surprising return for American Amanda Knox. Why she's back in Italy eight years after being cleared of murder charges. We're

live in Italy next.




CURNOW: So you're watching CNN. Great to have you along. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow. Welcome back.

U.S. President Trump has set off a firestorm, another one, by saying he would be willing to accept, quote, "dirt" on a political rival from foreign

governments, including Russia. And he's not backtracking. He's actually doubling down.

Mr. Trump defended himself on Twitter this morning and he says talks with foreign governments happen every day about everything and it would be

ridiculous to have to inform the FBI.

CNN's Joe Johns reminds us how this controversy began.



TRUMP: If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump making a stunning admission, telling ABC News he's willing to accept

damaging information from a foreign power about political rivals ahead of the 2020 election instead of immediately informing the FBI.

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening.

JOHNS (voice-over): The president also shutting down the idea that a foreign government like Russia or China providing material about his

opponents is against the law.

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI if I

thought there was something wrong.

But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research. Oh, let's call the FBI. The FBI doesn't have enough agents

to take care of it.

JOHNS (voice-over): Mr. Trump's words clashing with his own attorney general.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): If a foreign --



COONS: -- a representative of a foreign government says we have dirt on your opponent, should they say, "I love it, let's meet" --


COONS: -- contact the FBI?

BARR: Foreign intelligence service does, yes.

JOHNS (voice-over): And his FBI director, who issued this warning last month...

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: If any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation-state or anybody acting on behalf of a

nation-state --


WRAY: -- about influencing or interfering with our election, then that's something that the FBI would want to know about.

JOHNS (voice-over): Trump saying he strongly disagrees.

TRUMP: somebody who said, "We have information on your opponent." Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break, life doesn't work that way.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: The FBI director says that's what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.

JOHNS (voice-over): Democrats outraged by President Trump's apparent readiness to cooperate with foreign adversaries.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA),: Donald Trump has made it clear that he will engage in any action, no matter how unethical or unpatriotic, that he will

go right up to the line of what's legal and, indeed, it looks like he crossed that line many times.

JOHNS (voice-over): 2020 presidential hopefuls igniting an even hotter firestorm toward Mr. Trump from the campaign trail.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's outrageous and it tells me the guy just doesn't understand the job and can't do it very well.

JOHNS (voice-over): Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeting, "This isn't about politics. It's a threat to our national security."

Senator Bernie Sanders also weighing in, saying he's not shocked.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we have a president who neither understands the Constitution of the United States or

respects the Constitution.


CURNOW: Joe Johns reporting there.

I want to take you to these live images of Nancy Pelosi, who, of course, is the most powerful Democrat in government. In making comments in this press

conference you're seeing right now, Nancy Pelosi has said that Trump's dirt comment, the fact that he's willing to accept dirt on opponents from

foreign governments, proves he doesn't know right from wrong, proves he doesn't know right from wrong. She's speaking here about the U.S.


Let's go straight to White House reporter Stephen Collinson.

We're going to continue to monitor these pretty stunning comments coming from the president and Nancy Pelosi here. She says the president doesn't

know right from wrong.

How does this play out?

Or is this just another crisis that sort of gets buried under all the other crises that seem to unfold day after day?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the question now is, having said that, does Nancy Pelosi change her tack on the question of


We've seen since those remarks were made in an interview with ABC News by the president, a number of Democratic presidential candidates and a number

of lawmakers in the House coming out and saying, look, this is the straw that broke the camel's back, this is completely unacceptable, unpatriotic

behavior by the president and we have to therefore move onto impeachment.

We know the Speaker has been loath to press ahead with impeachment partly because she knows that the Republicans in the Senate are unlikely ever to

convict the president in an impeachment trial. And she's worried about the idea that the president could use an impeachment process in the House to

wind up his political base, present himself as being politically persecuted and damage Democrats running into the 2020 election.

I think these remarks are not just another political crisis. But you're right to say that these kinds of storms seem to abate after a few days.

That's the new reality we're living in. So I don't think we can expect this is going to really change the political equation in Washington on


CURNOW: But we're talking about the political responsibility.

What about the national security implications here?

Essentially you're having the American president suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies, allies or not, actually could help him out in the

next election?

What does that mean for national security concerns, particularly because spy bosses in the U.S. have said that's not right?

COLLINSON: Well, first of all, you have this picture of the president of the United States calling on foreign powers to essentially attack his

opponents in a presidential race. That is something that runs contrary to every single idea of democracy and the integrity of elections, which are

the bedrock of a democracy.

More particularly, if a foreign power believes it can get some kind of political advantage by giving the president some information gleaned from

his opponents which he could use to help his election, which is essentially what happened in 2016 with Russia, if you take the Mueller report as truth,

that raises all sorts of questions about, first of all, whether the president is abusing his powers and what kind of advantage those foreign

powers can get, having taken information from a foreign power, probably in some kind of covert way, the president is then open to compromise and even

blackmail by that power because --


COLLINSON: -- that would be seen potentially as an infringement of U.S. law. So this brings up all sort of national security implications.

CURNOW: Is it illegal to ask for dirt on opponents from foreign powers?

Were those comments illegal or is it just receiving foreign funds that's illegal?

What is the legal questioning around all of this?

COLLINSON: Well, the president is playing, as he often does in a real gray area, which is difficult to define. It is illegal for a foreign national

to make a financial contribution to a U.S. presidential campaign. And it is also illegal for something of value to be given to a presidential or any

kind of political candidate during a campaign.

That is against the law. That is the kind of infringement we saw the president's former lawyer Michael Cohen jailed for partly in the case

surrounding the adult actress, Stormy Daniels, and he was not even a foreign national.

But I think the wider question is, is this a high crime and misdemeanor?

The president is infringing and not defending U.S. democracy. That is a political crime and that is something that will be dealt with at


CURNOW: Stephen Collinson, thanks so much for your analysis.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. More news after the break.





CURNOW: You're watching CNN with me, Robyn Curnow. Welcome back.

Now I want to go back to our top story this hour. Investigators are trying to find out what caused explosions and fires on two tankers in the Gulf of

Oman. I want you to look at this video from Iranian state media. It's said to show one of the tankers shortly after the attack.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, got two distress calls from the vehicles. The owners of both tankers say all crew members were

evacuated and are now safe. One sailor has been injured.

The U.S. Defense Department says the ships may have been hit or may have hit a mine in the water or could have been attacked by some sort of shell.

These incidents come just weeks after four oil tankers were attacked at a port in the United Arab Emirates. The United States suspects Iran in that


Let's check on the oil prices. Surprise, surprise; they spiked after these tanker attacks. These markets, of course, showing the concern across the

globe. Let's go to Clare Sebastian from New York with more on the financial reaction to these incidents.

That's pretty clear in the graph I just showed you.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for sure, given that this is the second similar incident in as many months, given that it's happened near

the Strait of Hormuz, a critical point for the global oil industry, I think the reaction there is very glib (ph).

It is a fairly modest reaction in the context of the oil markets as we see it at the moment.

That is because the macro environment here is more about concerns about falling demand than it is about potential supply. Oil has been falling,

fell yesterday to a five-month low recently on concerns about the U.S. trade war and slowing growth in various countries around the world.

So we still see that in play today. Those macro concerns haven't gone away so this move could have been a lot bigger but still certainly enough to put

oil investors on notice today.

CURNOW: The attack on this area is especially significant. Just play us through the location and why there's also that worry.

SEBASTIAN: Yes, it's really important. The Gulf of Oman where this happened is connected to the Persian Gulf by the Strait of Hormuz. That is

a 21-mile wide at its narrowest point channel that basically about 30 percent of all the seaborne oil that flows through the global oil markets

passes through there.

So that's a critical point for the industry. There has been a lot of concern, given that it borders Iran on the north side, given that the U.S.

pulled out of the Iran deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran, this could be a potential locus for retaliation.

We don't know who was involved in the incidents today but that is what is raising fears, reminding oil investors for the potential for tensions here

and for this to escalate.

CURNOW: Clare Sebastian, thanks for that update.

Also now I want to get you updated on those ongoing protests in Hong Kong. They have continued today though they have certainly been much quieter than

the day before, when at least 81 people were injured during clashes and standoffs between police and protesters; 11 people were arrested.

The violence pushing lawmakers to postpone the reading of that very controversial extradition bill.

Take a look at this video. Journalists wearing riot safety gear to a police press conference. This was an apparent protest of alleged police

heavy handedness in breaking up a protest on Wednesday. Journalists felt vulnerable as well.

Matt Rivers is on the streets of Hong Kong.

You've been monitoring this for days now. Just talk us through what happened today and also looking ahead to tomorrow.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today, for 24 hours after what we saw yesterday on Wednesday here in Hong Kong, which was a violent series of

events, it's much calmer here today without question.

Today has really been kind of a reckoning of sorts about what happened yesterday. You had police trying to answer questions about heavy-

handedness, overreach, about overreacting.

So the police did have a preference Thursday evening here in Hong Kong and defended their actions. They say they were relatively restrained. They

said they fired 150 tear gas canisters simply in response to protesters attacking them.

Now protests would argue the exact opposite and would say that there were peaceful protests and the police completely overreacted and there was

brutality involved.

And we have seen a number of videos where there is brutality involved. We need to call it out quite plainly. I watched a video earlier today and saw

a relatively young woman in a fetal position on the ground. And a police officer, after she was already on the ground, taking his police shield and

beating her with it either over and over again. That's brutality.

However, the police say they're conducting a thorough investigation into what happened and they want to move forward.


RIVERS: At the same time we know that even though today was quite calm, these fights are not over. Come Sunday, organizers are asking people to

come out for yet another march. They hope to get the same kind of numbers they got last Sunday, where they say 1 million people showed up to protest

this extradition bill. On Monday they're calling for people to strike and attend another rally. They reason why they're doing that this weekend is

because this extradition bill debate was suspended Wednesday, Thursday. It will be suspended on Friday.

So conceivably the first day it could be picked up again would be Monday. Point being that this fight is not over. These protests are going to

continue as long as this bill is being debated.

CURNOW: The big question here -- and this is all about the concern about Beijing encroaching on liberties within Hong Kong -- in terms of the police

reaction, the political reaction by Hong Kong authorities, how much of a hand is Beijing having here and involved?

Do we know and do we have a sense of that?

RIVERS: I mean ultimately we can't prove how much Beijing is involved here in terms of a government response. What Beijing authorities are saying is

this is up to the Hong Kong authorities, they don't have a hand in this.

But the people here do not believe that. They don't believe the government of Hong Kong, led by chief executive Carrie Lam, who was handpicked for

that post by the government of Beijing, they don't believe Beijing is not involved in the way police do things here and the way the government


Ultimately it can't be proven either way but, interestingly, the messaging app Telegram has been long a choice of protesters to gather, to organize.

Thousands and thousands of protesters use that app. The owner and founder of that app came out and said there was a massive denial of service attack

against Telegram, against users in Hong Kong and they think most of the IP addresses where that denial of service attack came from were in mainland


Now it's not to say the government was behind it but it is certainly a possibility. That's what people point to and say, look, we told you

Beijing is involved and they're actively trying to stop these protests.

CURNOW: Important perspective there, thanks so much. Looks like the rain is about to come down, so stay dry, you and the team as well, Matt Rivers

there in Hong Kong.

OK. While some fear protesters in Hong Kong are fighting a losing battle, the government has made some attempts to ease concern about this

extradition bill. For example, removing nine crimes from their initial list of 46 offenses that could get you extradited. Mostly those were

white-collar crimes.

Now my colleague, Kristie Lu Stout, spoke with pro-establishment lawmaker Ronny Tong. He indicated there may be more room for negotiation.


RONNY TONG, EXECUTIVE COUNCIL: The government has already made two important concessions over a number of days. I'm appealing to everybody in

Hong Kong to search back in relation to the political wisdom, to see if there is a common ground between the two sides.

At the moment, those who are opposing the bill is asking an all or nothing situation, either you pass it or you shelve it. I think that there should

be room for something in between.

I think that would be more protection for people who may be extradited to the mainland. Hopefully they would be satisfied with more concessions.

But I think it's important for the people who are opposing the bill to say that they are willing to talk about it.

It just doesn't help anybody by resorting to violence in the street. I think everybody would have to agree with that. So I hope that, in the days

to come, we will see less violence, more talking.



CURNOW: Let's get you up to speed on some other stories on our radar right now.

So we're watching this, a tropical cyclone threatening the northwest coast of India, where hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated. It's

not expected to make landfall. That's good news. But officials say up to 6 million people could be impacted by the storms.

Everyone out there, keep safe if you can.

Red Cross teams in Uganda are on high alert following the death of a 5- year-old child from Ebola. It's one of three confirmed cases of Ebola, which has now spread from neighboring Congo. Hundreds of volunteers are

being dispatched across Uganda in anticipation of the virus spreading.

Authorities investigating the attempted murder of David Ortiz say the suspects were paid nearly $8,000 to shoot the baseball legend. Six men are

now in custody, a seventh is on the run from police in the Dominican Republic. Officials still don't have a motive. Ortiz --


CURNOW: -- is recovering in intensive care in Boston.

Coming up, years after her release from an Italian prison, Amanda Knox has returned to the country which once said she was guilty of murder.

Why is she there?

We're live in Italy.




CURNOW: I'm sure you remember this case. It captured worldwide attention, as did the woman at the center of the media storm, Amanda Knox. Today

she's returned to Italy for the first time since being released from prison there in 2011. She's there to attend a conference organized by a group

called the Italy Innocence Project.

Now you'll remember that Knox was the American exchange student who was convicted in the 2007 murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, and then

acquitted after four years behind bars.

In an article published on Tuesday for the website "Medium," Knox wrote about the public and media perception of her during that time, saying,

"While on trial for a murder I didn't commit, my prosecutor painted me as a sex-crazed femme fatale and the media profited for years by

sensationalizing an already sensational and utterly unjustified story."

So Melissa Bell joins us now from Italy.

Why is she there?

Why is she coming back to Italy to make this point that the media harassed her?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, having penned that article on Tuesday, which was all about how someone's life becomes someone else's

content, a sort of call to journalists to behave with more respect, to understand, it is that media attention, it is that media fascination with

her that goes back to 2007, when she first hit the headlines that she will be using on this trip.

It is here on Saturday that she will be addressing the question of trial by media. She's been campaigning for years now for people using the media

storm that had so badly damaged her all those years ago.


BELL (voice-over): It was a case that gripped the world back in 2007 and continues to divide today. It began with the sexual assault and murder of

21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher. Within days, the suspicions of Italian investigators turned to one of her roommates, 20-year-old Amanda

Knox. Then her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who she claimed to have spent the evening with, changed his story.

Knox then blamed her boss, Patrick Lumumba, for Kercher's murder while under questioning. He was later found not guilty.


BELL (voice-over): But another man, Rudy Guede, who was arrested and convicted of the murder, is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence.

Yet prosecutors continue to insist on Knox's and Sollecito's involvement and, in 2009, the two were found guilty and sentenced to prison.

Media interest, both Italian and international, was intense throughout the trial, fed by headlines that labeled Ms. Knox "Foxy Knoxy," focusing on her

character and on the alleged sexual nature of the crime. One Italian commentator described her as having the face of an angel but the eyes of a


After four years in jail, Knox and Sollecito were freed when an appeals court toss their convictions.

AMANDA KNOX, KERCHER'S ROOMMATE: What's important for me today is just thank you.

BELL (voice-over): She returned to Seattle and was exonerated by the Italian judiciary in 2015. All along she maintained her innocence.


KNOX: It means that everyone's vulnerable and that's everyone's nightmare. Either I'm a psychopath in sheep's clothing or I am you.


MATTEO GHISALBERTI, ITALIAN JOURNALIST: Actually I think that Amanda Knox wasn't lucky. She was judged by the media before and then her rights and

defense were not respected.

A lot of people were interested in this history because there was a sex crime. There were young people, students, foreign students. So there was

a lot of elements for a good plot for a good crime plot. But this was reality.


BELL (voice-over): It is that question of her trial by media that Amanda Knox will address at a justice reform conference in Italy this week, a

first return to the country that she'd vowed never to revisit again, that is likely to place her once again firmly in the media spotlight.


BELL: Sure enough, as she landed in Milan airport this morning, the cameras were there waiting for her. She seems almost physically to shy

away from the cameras that she can only have expected when she landed.

We're expecting her here in a short while in this building behind me for a reception. Once again, the media will be watching every move.

CURNOW: Interesting decision to make; thanks so much, Melissa Bell.

So we'll be back with more news after a quick break. This hour our "Parting Shots" may surprise you a little bit so stick around.




CURNOW: So now a little pop quiz for you.

What connects all of this?

Eight World Cups, seven presidential elections, six British prime ministers, two Gulf Wars, the Mars landing, Mandela freed from prison, the



CURNOW: -- Berlin Wall coming down, one woman who's in my ear a lot of the time and who's behind the scenes, the wonderful Deirdre. She's there.

This is a surprise for her.

You've covered all of those stories and countless more during 32 years of brilliant reporting at the company. So today for your "Parting Shots,"

Deirdre, a parting of ways. She's calling it a wrap. We know you'll have plenty to keep you busy besides directing behind the scenes there in the

control room here in Atlanta, just a room next to me.

Thank you from all of us for all you've done for all of the folks in the newsroom and here at CONNECT THE WORLD, you've really made a difference and

it's been wonderful working with you. Good luck. We'll miss you. Too many goodbyes these days.

So I'm going to say goodbye, too. Deirdre is a good soul. Thanks a lot again. Thanks to all of us. Hope you've enjoyed the show. Bye-bye.