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AstraZeneca Vaccine Trials on Pause; Refugee Camp Disaster; Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine; England Limits Social Gatherings to Six; Birtles: Now No Australian Journalists in China; Ronaldo Reaches Century Mark with Portugal. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 9, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): One eyewitness says the Moria refugee camp is, quote, "completely destroyed."

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, burned to the ground with Europe's largest refugee camp now in ashes. We speak to Greece's minister

of migration about what happens next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON (voice-over): Then, one of the world's leading COVID vaccine trials paused after a mysterious illness develops.

Plus, my interview with an Australian journalist, who just evacuated from China after a diplomatic standoff.

And as California's wildfires scorch the Earth, the man who led the charge in the battle against climate change there, four-term governor Jerry Brown,

with us on the show.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ANDERSON: All right. That's right, this hour the world moving faster than ever with stories of a changing your world, moving at lightning speed. I'm

Becky Anderson. I'm going to try to connect this all together for you, so let's get going first.

Thousands who had little more than hope to grasp onto have even less right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON (voice-over): This is the utter devastation on the Greek island of Lesbos after fire ravaged Europe's largest refugee camp. Now the fire

broke out extremely early on Wednesday morning. This is the camp which nearly 13,000 refugees called home.

Six times the maximum capacity, no wonder then it's known for its squalid conditions and the situation there had already been tense. The camp was on

lockdown after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus. One of the migrants tells CNN the fire all started by refugees protesting those

lockdown measures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, Elinda Labropoulou has the story from Greece.

Elinda, what do we know at this point?

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, CNNI JOURNALIST: Well, things are calmer on the island and there's been no reports of injuries following this large fire that

broke out last night and completely destroyed the camp.

What we have seen is images of the fire -- of the camp being completely, completely destroyed. People can not possibly stay there.

The Greek army has been flying in tents during the day and two old army camps are expected to be used as temporary shelter for the about 13,000

people that have been left homeless overnight.

And just after the news of the first coronavirus cases were reported in the camp -- so this came as a big shock, one thing after the other. And there

are some reports -- some eyewitnesses have been saying that it was actually people in the camp who started the initial fire because they were

protesting the lockdown as a result of the coronavirus measures.

The Greek prime minister has expressed his sorrow for the events. He said he recognizes the difficult circumstances that the people there are going

through. But he said this is not something that can be tolerated or can be used as an alibi for violent reaction to health checks.

So now we're waiting for an official announcement from the government very soon to see how exactly the Greek government will deal with the situation.

But first let's take a look at what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): As Europe's largest migrant camp went up in flames, the estimated 13,000 migrants and refugees living there ran to

evacuate.

Eyewitnesses say the blaze left the camp completely destroyed, sparking further issues for refugees already battling an outbreak of coronavirus.

This migrant watches as his temporary home in Europe burns to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The houses, (INAUDIBLE) all village (ph).

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): Germany's foreign minister described the incident as a humanitarian catastrophe and called for E.U. assistance to

Greece.

With daylight exposing the true damage of the fire, families leave with what little belongings they have left.

Before flames broke out, Moria was extremely overcrowded.

[10:05:00]

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): The camp with six times more people than it can hold. Humanitarian agencies have long been calling for the evacuation of

families and sick people.

The call re-ignited by the first coronavirus case in the camp recorded last week, which plunged the camp into lockdown and the 35 coronavirus cases

found since.

With thousands of migrants and refugees stranded on the island with no place to sleep, the fire at Moria re-ignites the ongoing debate on Europe's

approach to the migrant crisis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LABROPOULOU: It's exactly how it is, you know, Moria has been a ticking time bomb for a very long time. So what happened there and very suddenly

changed the circumstances there had been debate for a long time about what would happen with the people there and where they should be moved to.

And both Greece and the E.U. have been very slow at taking a strong position. So what's happening there is probably going to speed things up

now -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Elinda, thank you.

So as we mentioned, the question is, now what happens to the thousands of people left without a place to go?

Germany's foreign minister has, Elinda, alluded to this and called on other European countries to take them in or risk a humanitarian catastrophe.

Greece's migration minister agrees and wants to see the migrants moved elsewhere.

He adds his country just doesn't have the capacity to house them now. We're joined by the man behind the comments, Greek migration minister, Notis

Mitarachi.

And sir, thank you for joining us. I know you have just arrived on the scene.

Your reaction to what you have seen there, sir?

NOTIS MITARACHI, GREEK MIGRATION MINISTER: It seems we have had destruction in one-fourth of the camp in Moria with 3,000 other (ph) 12,000

people displaced. We are immediately moving (INAUDIBLE) out of Moria to Athens and we're hoping other European Union countries will and support the

need to demonstrate solidarity.

We're trying to find emergency housing. We think that all the 3,000 displaced people, we're having a vessel arriving from (INAUDIBLE) and two

more vessels coming tomorrow to house the vulnerable ones.

Greece has gone through many years of substantial flows of migrants and we're now hosting 95,000 asylum seekers. The camp of Moria (INAUDIBLE) had

20,000 people in it. We were able to move a lot of people out of Moria in 2020.

We actually moved 15,500 people so the camp today had half of what it had a month ago but still there are too many. And we're continuing to move people

out. The asylum process has accelerated. But it's clear that that's a problem we cannot handle alone. We need European solidarity, we need

European solidarity (INAUDIBLE) and we need support in protecting the Greek and the community (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: We have to talk about the European migration policy in a moment. I want to talk specifically about what is going on, on the ground where you

are at that camp.

Firstly, Elinda, our reporter, suggesting, thankfully, no injuries or deaths.

Is that what you understand at this point?

MITARACHI: That is correct. The camp was evacuated in the night, it was evacuated in a very orderly manner. The police and the staff did an

extremely good job in taking people out of the camp and situating them in (INAUDIBLE) positions around.

ANDERSON: OK. So where are they now?

Where are those refugees sleeping tonight?

MITARACHI: More than half are still in Moria. Only a part of Moria has been affected. The rest of the camp is still operating. We're putting

emergency now beds in the surroundings of Moria and also some of the people will sleep in a vessel which is arriving in the port very soon.

We would anticipate that most of the people would be housed one way or another very soon.

ANDERSON: And there are vulnerable, unaccompanied minors, as I understand it.

Just how many vulnerable refugees -- residents are there at this camp that you're most concerned about, sir?

MITARACHI: We have had 900 at the beginning of the year. We now have 400. All of the 400 will be flying out of Moria today. They will be going to

Athens in a proper accommodation and hopefully they'll be located to other member states of the European Union.

ANDERSON: This camp was under lockdown due to rising COVID-19 cases. Now local media has said the fire could have been deliberate. There was a

dispute, as we understand it, last night at the COVID-19 station. NGOs have called the lockdown the final straw for many.

What do you know, if anything, about what started this fire?

Was it deliberate, as you understand it?

MITARACHI: It seems so.

[10:10:00]

MITARACHI: We're waiting for further investigation work to be done so we have a more clear picture. We have had 35 COVID test positive out of 2,000

conducted and these 35 people were asked to move into the separate area to make sure they don't infect the other residents of the camp.

There seems to have been some disagreement and dissatisfaction for the need to quarantine the positive COVID-19 patients. The lockdown has helped us

through the year. It's critical to say that we have had 95,000 asylum seekers in residence.

We have had zero casualties throughout the year related to COVID because we took measures early and we took sufficient measures.

ANDERSON: What more can you tell us about how this fire started, sir?

MITARACHI: I'm waiting for the fire brigade to investigate after they have cleaned up. It does take a few days to have a clear picture of what

happened. What seems so is that it started from residents of the camp.

ANDERSON: You have suggested that there were as many as 20,000 refugees at one point, certainly 13,000 living in the camp at the time of this fire.

That is something like six times the capacity. My colleague, Phil Black, reported from the camp earlier in the year. I just want our viewers to get

a sense of some of what he discovered. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The shelters are all handmade, constructed through whatever people were able to scrounge for themselves in

an environment that has no running water, no electricity, no sanitation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty thousands people use ten taps. They're in the line, in the queue, large queue. If you wanted to wash your clothes, you're

waiting at least seven hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Squalid conditions, people described as in perpetual limbo waiting for their asylum claims to be processed. And this, of course, was

all pre-COVID.

I mean, what are your plans for this facility?

Will it be rebuilt?

Is that even possible?

MITARACHI: It's clear that we need a new facility, which is safer and offers more humane conditions, offers the appropriate capacity needed. This

is something we were trying to do in February and we faced a lot of local reaction because there's a lot of fatigue because of the substantial flows

in the previous years.

And that created an obstacle in (INAUDIBLE) Moria. We need a smaller and safer camp. That is true. What we have done is we have doubled the speed of

(INAUDIBLE) asylum application. We have almost doubled the rate of people moving out of Moria in 2020 compared to the previous years.

Still, there's work to be done. We don't have enough capacity and we cannot have enough capacity for the flows (INAUDIBLE) in the previous years when

Greece was the key gateway to the European Union for migrant (INAUDIBLE).

Thankfully, 2020 has seen a substantial increase, around 70 percent in the rate of arrivals and that's allowing slowly, slowly (INAUDIBLE) to start

breathing again. But clearly, we have an overcapacity problem. We have needed, we have asked the help from the European Union.

We have received some funding and we need to do work in Moria --

(CROSSTALK)

MITARACHI: -- successfully in some (INAUDIBLE) levels (ph).

ANDERSON: NGO worker Mike Marco Sandrone (ph) described this fire as a time bomb that finally exploded. Now as you have rightly pointed out, this

plays into a much larger refugee crisis in Europe.

Last week I spoke to Lea Reisner, operational coordinator on the Louise Michel migrant rescue boat, Banksy's migrant rescue boat, working the

Mediterranean waters around Libya. Have a listen to what she told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEA REISNER, OPERATIONAL COORDINATOR, LOUISE MICHEL MIGRANT RESCUE BOAT: In the end, I would say that we are, that the European Union is in a war

against migration. So what is happening is that Europe is trying to externalize their borders further to the south to just put the picture of

suffering people further away from them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: She told me that the European Union is in a war against migration.

Sir, you have said that Greece can no longer be the destination for refugees, that it does not have the capacity.

What is the solution?

And specifically what are you calling on other European countries to do at this point?

MITARACHI: Greece is implementing a tough but fair immigration policy with rules.

[10:15:00]

MITARACHI: We will comply fully with the Geneva convention. But at the same time, we do not have unlimited capacity. We cannot cope with the flows

(INAUDIBLE) in 2015 (ph). That led to the overcrowding of Moria the way you describe today and the conditions that the NGOs have reported.

So there's a limit to what Greece alone can do. We need more solidarity to be demonstrated at the European Union level. We need to fully implement the

Geneva Convention at the same time be able to attend those (INAUDIBLE) national (ph) protection. (INAUDIBLE) refugee and those economic migrants

that we cannot cope with the level of arrivals which we have seen the previous years.

ANDERSON: Sir, with that we leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

I think this episode, as described by one of the U.N. agencies in a report that I read before the show started, is a ground's eye view of just how

Europe's harsh treatment of refugees is impacting thousands of people stuck on an island. And not just the residents of that camp but the residents of

that island as well.

We are seeing COVID work its way into refugee camps which, with cramped, poor conditions, are potential Petri dishes for the virus. A Syrian refugee

camp in Jordan has just reported its first cases of COVID-19, the first cases to be known among all Syrians living in such camps.

The U.N. says two people are now in isolation after testing positive for the virus there. Nearly 37,000 refugees now live in the Azraq camp after

fleeing civil war in their home countries. You can only imagine that these numbers are underreported at this point.

Well, there are new developments in the search for a vaccine this hour after one of the most promising trials is suspended. More on that in a

moment.

Plus, England slaps on new restrictions over how many people can get together.

So just who can you invite over?

We're in London to check it out.

And Israel and Gaza seeing a troubling spike in COVID-19 infections. What they are doing to try to regain control. There's a lot to connect in what

is our pandemic world. We will connect those dots for you after this.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, WHO: Just because we talk about speed and scale it doesn't mean that we start compromising (INAUDIBLE) on what would normally

be assessed.

[10:20:00]

SWAMINATHAN: The process still has to follow the rules of the games, which is that you go through the process of clinical trials and here particularly

I'm talking about drugs and vaccines. Diagnostics has evaluation methodology.

But for drugs and vaccines, which are given to people, you have to test their safety, first and foremost, most important, and efficacy. That is how

effective is the drug.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Science before politics, a clear reminder from the World Health Organization's chief scientists there. We are not going to cut corners, she

says, when it comes to developing a vaccine. Well, it comes after U.K. based drug company AstraZeneca puts its COVID-19 vaccine trial on hold.

Why?

Because a volunteer came down with an unexplained illness. It is not uncommon. It's cutting edge research but it will slow things down. The

company told CNN, quote, "This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there's a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials."

Well, CNN's Nic Robertson covering what that means for us now.

As we point out, speed bumps expected on any vaccine development, particularly development which is happening at speed.

How does this play, though, into the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think it appears to be a reality check not only for the scientists involved, because

they don't need it, because this is routine, as AstraZeneca said.

This is a standard precaution and they say it will go into the independent review to check precisely what's happened and does it meet and it is going

to meet the safety standards.

For the scientists involved, I don't think this changes too much. But there will be obviously an emotional impact for all those people that were hoping

that, you know, particularly in the U.K., the government had just said a couple of days ago it will have 30 million of the vaccines already ready by

the beginning of next year.

The government had planned and paid for the production of these -- this vaccine to be ready, irrespective of whether it was going to meet all the

standards because they wanted it there in case -- in case, not that they'd use it regardless -- but have it there in case.

So the reality is, for now, this is showing that the industry, the pharma industry, is standing by its word that it says it's not going to rush

anything out. There are people's lives at stake, the reputations and finances of these major pharma companies are at stake.

So they are going through their routine procedures. And a government oversight body here in the U.K. will rule, through an independent review,

on what the state of play is with AstraZeneca and if this particular trial can proceed; 50,000 people currently have been given the vaccine worldwide

as part of this phase 3 trial, 30,000 of them in the United States, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. Absolutely. Nic, thank you.

Next hour, we'll be speaking with Dr. Seth Barkley. He's the CEO of GAVI, the vaccine alliance, one of the world's leading voices on this, trying to

ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world. Stay with us.

And 40 minutes from now, we'll hear from the British prime minister as he tightens the restrictions in England. The latest measure expected --

bringing down the number of people who are allowed to get together, to hang out together as it were,, from 30 to just six. Scott McLean joining us live

from the center of power in London right outside Parliament.

Were this to be the case, no more than six in a gathering, coming less than a week after schools reopened in the U.K. and that Boris Johnson said was a

moral duty to get the kids back into school, is there any suggestion that the prime minister can walk back other measures, including the school

openings at this point?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Other measures are possible. But when it comes to the schools, Boris Johnson said they'd be the last to close,

before schools, before clubs, before bars -- excuse me, before restaurants, before other businesses. The schools would be the last to close.

But U.K. has had a real spike in coronavirus cases, more than 2,000 for each of the last three days. And because they're primarily concentrated

among the youngest members of the population, the country hasn't had a huge surge in hospitalizations or their death toll.

[10:25:00]

MCLEAN: But France and Spain may provide a glimpse into the British future and it's not a very pretty one. France is seeing almost 500 patients

admitted to hospital with COVID-19 every single day. And Spain has also started to see an uptick, a significant uptick in the death toll.

Here's how the British prime minister described the cause for the situation in the House of Commons today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We also know that, alas, some people have not been following the guidance in the way that they should. In fact,

we are seeing a rise in infections. And that's why, today, we are taking decisive steps, Mr. Speaker, to intensify our social distancing measures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: So, as of Monday, the maximum gathering will go from 30 people down to six people. That's indoors and outdoors. There are some exceptions

for weddings, funerals, obviously school, work, things like that.

The changes come after the prime minister met with the British police, who said that the web of the rules that exist right now were too complicated

and too difficult to enforce.

What will be interesting to see is how intensely they do actually enforce these new simpler rules that come into effect on Monday because I think

you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that the enforcement in the U.K. right now is stringent, especially compared to other European

countries like Spain.

The government's M.O. right now is getting the economy reopened. Schools are reopened. Some businesses are sending employees back to the offices. So

with the rule changes the government won't have to reverse course on that messaging.

But the only question will it help to stem the tide of Britain's coming second wave?

ANDERSON: Thank you, Scott. Scott McLean on social gatherings being limited to six people in England.

Let's get you up to speed on the other stories on the radar right now.

And the iconic Taj Mahal getting ready to reopen after six months of closure. Officials announce the monument will accept 5,000 visitors a day

September 21st even though the COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in India.

The virus also soaring across the Middle East, hitting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza with new record daily infections. To try to curb the spread,

Israel is imposing night curfews in 40 of what it calls red cities. They're having a hard time with high infection rates.

There is growing concern about an uptick of cases in Canada. While the overall numbers do remain low, Canada reports a 25 percent rise in cases in

the past week. Four dozen cases linked to a karaoke bar, 2 dozen more to a wedding. Canada's top health official is urging Canadians to stay vigilant.

Two years ago, California battled one of its worst wildfire seasons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have never seen anything like this in California. We have never seen anything like this

here.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Well, now this year's season is already much worse. You see former California governor Jerry Brown, pictured there alongside

president Donald Trump. The climate crisis was his signature cause back then. I'll be speaking to him next hour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON (voice-over): Plus he was warned, he didn't listen and then he found himself trapped in a diplomatic row between China and Australia. We

speak to an Australian journalist evacuated from China, up next.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:30:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ANDERSON: To an extraordinary moment in what is being called a growing cold war between China and America and its allies. Let me explain. Right

now, two Australian journalists are back on home soil after a five-day diplomatic standoff with Beijing, fleeing from their jobs as reporters in

Beijing and Shanghai in just what is the latest sign of China's souring relations with Australia. CNN's Ivan Watson has the story for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two Australian journalists in China forced to hide inside their country's

diplomatic missions. After police showed up knocking at their doors late at night and told them they were barred from leaving the country.

It triggered a five-day diplomatic standoff before a deal was finally struck. They have been allowed to fly back to Sydney.

BILL BIRTLES, AUSTRALIA JOURNALIST: It's very disappointing to have to leave under those circumstances. And it's a relief to be back in the

country with genuine rule of law.

WATSON (voice-over): Last week, the Australian government warned TV reporter Bill Birtles and newspaper correspondent Michael Smith they

needed to get out of China.

QUESTION: Did you feel threatened at all when you went over there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit, yes. It was (INAUDIBLE) experience but it's great to be here.

WATSON (voice-over): Australia believed the pair faced the risk of detention. In a case linked to a third Australian, Cheng Lei, who was

detained in Beijing almost a month ago. The former Chinese state TV anchor remains in detention, accused of criminally endangering national security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The detention of Australian journalist Ms. Cheng Lei and that had raised concerns for Australian.

WATSON (voice-over): Australian diplomats stepped in to protect Birtles and Smith at a time when Australia's relationship with Beijing is quickly

souring.

Officials in Canberra say China hit Australia with politically motivated trade sanctions and that their Chinese counterparts won't even speak to

them. Relations deteriorated after Australia pushed for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody needs to know the reason of this COVID-19. Chinese people also want to know. But the purpose to know the reason is not

to put blame on a place or a people.

WATSON (voice-over): China said Thursday that officials interrogated the two Australian journalists in the course of routine police work. Canberra

continues to warn all its citizens traveling to China that they could be at risk of arbitrary detention. That risk now a reality for Cheng and a close

call for Birtles and Smith -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, Bill Birtles is one of the two journalists who fled from Chinese authorities. Joining me from hotel quarantine in Sydney, just

before the show, I asked him to walk us through the five days' diplomatic standoff that led to his evacuation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BIRTLES: The funny thing is, Becky, when it began, I was getting warnings from the Australians that I must get out of China immediately. But they

wouldn't kind of even hint as to the reason why.

You know, what's the specific info they had, so I was pretty skeptical. I didn't want to pack everything up so abruptly and leave.

Sure enough, two days after they started giving me those warnings, at midnight, the national -- the state security police were at my door, seven

of them, to tell me that I was involved in a case, that I have an exit ban imposed on me. It was kind of curious, they didn't detain me. They just

said tomorrow afternoon, we'll give you a call.

And, of course, that left the whole morning the next day for me to get in touch with Australian embassy officials and say, what do you think I

should do?

They of course said, you should come over here to the embassy. That's where the diplomatic standoff began.

[10:35:00]

ANDERSON: Did you no longer feel safe in China?

Give our viewers a sense of your experience in working there.

BIRTLES: Yes. I spent about seven years in China and the past five years for Australia's ABC as the correspondent. So I'm not fresh off the plane. I

spent quite a bit of time there. Actually I felt comfortable, to be honest, Becky.

I felt that it was an incredibly unlikely scenario that Chinese police would ever detain a foreign journalist. It hasn't been done, not in modern

times. It would be a massive escalation.

So when this was first suggested to me as a possible warning, I sort of thought, look, I'm not feeling personally any danger.

And when the police showed up, I thought, righto, we have a problem here. But yet I wasn't detained. Of course, with the general poor relationship

between Australia and China, I suppose the message is unprecedented things are only unprecedented until they happen for the first time.

And there have been a lot of arbitrary detentions in recent years of foreigners, a few prominent cases, particularly Canadians. So that's why

the Australian officials didn't want to take risks.

ANDERSON: Were you singled out because you're a journalist, Bill, as opposed to an Australian citizen working in China?

BIRTLES: Yes, it wasn't just Australians. In fact, this is all related to a detention of an Australian news anchor for a Chinese state media channel,

Cheng Lei. She was detained last month. And she's now been accused of harming state security but it's still a pretty murky case.

The reason that we were embroiled in this by police is obviously because both I and the other journalist, Mike Smith, were the only two reporters

working for Australian media in China. There are plenty of other Australians here for the media, for business. None were targeted in the

same way.

So it did look like a much bigger political issue and the Australian media journalists were singled out.

ANDERSON: You were only allowed to leave the country after being interviewed by the ministry of state for security. You have just alluded to

the case of the anchor, Cheng Lei, who is being detained in China.

What were you asked?

BIRTLES: So it was kind of weird because the interview which was taking place in the hotel room, it started with all of these really basic

questions.

You know, how long have you been in China, do you ever cover stories related to China?

Of course I do, that's my job.

You know, what sort of prominent stories do you cover?

There was a little bit of "what sources do you go to" but it wasn't too serious and when they got to the Cheng Lei case, they asked me how long did

you know her, did you ever discuss work things with her.

The truth is, although I know her, there are plenty of a lot people who know her better than me. I said, look, I don't discuss work with her. I

don't know her well enough. And it seemed to me like they were already aware of that before they even commenced the interview.

And they didn't put in as much effort or time as you might think they would if they were really trying to extract some sort of useful information.

ANDERSON: China has accused an Australian spy agency of conducting raids on four Chinese journalists in June.

How does this play into the narrative?

And you have alluded to the fact that Chinese-Australian relations aren't the best at present.

Do you see that getting worse, not better, going forward?

BIRTLES: You know, I didn't know that when this saga began. But I wondered if something like this had happened. And sure enough, after I left the

country in these rushed circumstances, raced out of there by Australian officials, the news comes out, both from the Chinese government but also

from my colleagues here in Australia, who had been looking into it for a week or so, confirming that, before my ordeal began in Beijing, those four

state media journalists in Australia had been targeted in raids due to an anti-foreign interference investigation.

Now nobody on the record, whether they're in China or Australia, will publicly connect the dots. But it starts to look pretty obvious, I think

that the reason only Australian journalists in China were targeted in this latest case was likely because it was a response to the targeting of

Chinese journalists in Australia.

ANDERSON: Mmm. We'll leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[10:40:00]

ANDERSON: That's an interview that I conducted before the show. It's a busy old world there.

Up next, Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the second ever male player to -- well, actually I'll tell you right after this. I don't want to tell you exactly

what he did but it was another milestone.

(WORLD SPORT)

[11:00:00]

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