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Interview With Forest Whitaker; Justice and Race in America; Interview with Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Richard Ratcliffe; Interview with Grammy Award-Winning Artist Carlos Santana. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 12, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself.
GOLODRYGA: Kyle Rittenhouse on trial.
I talk to legal analyst Elie Mystal about what the Kenosha case and the killing of Ahmaud Arbery tell us about justice and race in America.
FOREST WHITAKER, FOUNDER AND CEO, WHITAKER PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE: When I met with the child soldiers, there was a similarity, a
look that I had seen in the children that I known or youths that I knew from my neighborhood in South Central.
GOLODRYGA: Film star Forest Whitaker tells me how his acting career inspired his global activism and what he's setting his sights on next.
RICHARD RATCLIFFE, HUSBAND OF NAZANIN ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE: Obviously, she can see my face, the deterioration. We don't know what's happening inside
with the organs.
GOLODRYGA: Hunger strike day 20. I speak to Richard Ratcliffe about his extraordinary efforts to help wife Nazanin from detention in Iran.
CARLOS SANTANA, MUSICIAN: Music, being harmony, uplifts people, so you can see with spirit, not with ego.
GOLODRYGA: Grammy-winning musician Carlos Santana joins Walter Isaacson to reflect on his fascinating life and career.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.
We begin tonight by looking at two ongoing major trials in America that are testing the difference between self-defense and vigilante killings. In both
cases, race plays a role.
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, closing arguments in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse are expected on Monday. Rittenhouse killed two people and wounded another
during racial justice protests last summer. The 18-year-old, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, took the stand on Wednesday and said he had
opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle to defend himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RITTENHOUSE: There was a -- not a crowd -- a mob was chasing me. I continued to run after hearing people say -- people were saying, "Cranium
him and get him. Kill him."
So I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Meanwhile, in Brunswick, Georgia, the trial of three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery is also under way. Arbery was
chased and fatally shot while he was out for a jog in February of last year. He was 25 years old.
Attorneys for the three defendants have also claimed that they acted in self-defense.
With me now to look at the significance of each trial is Elie Mystal, "The Nation"'s justice correspondent. He recently wrote a piece titled: "I Hope
Everyone is Prepared for Kyle Rittenhouse to Go Free."
So, Elie, welcome to the program.
Let's begin with that piece that you just wrote. In it, you describe the defendants in both of these cases as -- quote -- "violent white offenders
to whom the system seems determined to give the benefit of the doubt."
How does that relate to the U.S. legal standard of a criminal conviction requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt?
ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": Well, let's start with jury selection, right? I mean, like we have -- as you mentioned, in both of these cases, there are
racial tensions, there are racial issues involved.
But when you look at the juries, in both of the cases, they are almost entirely white juries. Of the 12 jurors and four alternates -- that's 16
people altogether -- both juries are 15-1 white people, with only one person of color. That's particularly ridiculous in the Georgia case, with
McMichaels, the people who killed, who lynched Ahmaud Arbery, where that county is 26 percent blacks.
You have to literally go out of your way to end up with only one black person on your jury, but that's what the justice system did, right? So the
people who will be sitting in judgment of both of these alleged criminals have been handpicked to be as white as possible.
Then you look at the judges. In the Rittenhouse case, you have a judge that, every pretrial motion, every motion, came down on the side of the
defendant, of Rittenhouse.
And so far, during their trial, he has had his thumb on the scale in the favor of the defense at almost every point, to the point of yelling and
excruciating prosecutors in open court in front of the jury, making the jury pool clap for one of Rittenhouse's expert witnesses on the canard that
the expert witness was a veteran, and it was Veterans Day, so he should get a round of applause.
This is -- and to say nothing of his phone, which went off halfway through the trial and played the same ringtone that Donald Trump uses to start his
The system is baked in for the white defendants at every point before you even get into the evidence. So while, yes, sure, the person is entitled to
the presumption of innocence, the entire weight is to make sure that person -- these people walk away scot-free.
GOLODRYGA: So, let me ask you more about the behavior of the judge in the Rittenhouse trial, Bruce -- Judge Bruce Schroeder, because it seems,
listen, for a novice who is not a legal expert who was watching this, it was a bit uncomfortable and unusual, in my opinion, and I would imagine and
I have seen in many other journalists' opinion, as to how confrontational he was with the prosecution.
That having been said, many other legal experts that we have had on, both from past prosecutors and defense attorneys, have said that there have been
plenty of times that they have been in a courtroom and have had similar altercations or have been reprimanded by a judge that way.
MYSTAL: What you want is for the judge to be fair.
And so one of the issues I think people have when they're trying to understand the bias of Bruce Schroeder is that they keep trying to look at
any one decision, right? Any one decision he's made could be defensible. It could be OK to let Rittenhouse out on bail and then not pull him back after
he repeatedly violated bail.
It could be OK for him not to allow the prosecution to call Rittenhouse's victims, but to allow Rittenhouse to make the argument that the people he
shot were looters, rioters and arsonists, even though none of those people have been charged with any of those crimes.
It might have been OK for the judge to yell at prosecutors for trying to get an evidence that he had previously excluded. It might have been OK for
him to have a clapping ceremony for veterans. All of these things individually might have been OK. But when you put them all together, how
can you not see that the judge has been biased for the defense?
And that is the essential point.
GOLODRYGA: Well, I do have to say that there was a lot of surprise in the fact that the judge had ruled that the men shot by Rittenhouse cannot be
called -- quote, unquote -- "victims," but they could be called arsonists and looters.
And you allude to that in your piece as well. But from what you have heard play out in the Kenosha trial, how do you think jurors will respond?
Obviously, we have got closing testimony Monday, but what do you think jurors will ultimately say? You say we should be prepared that he will be
let go free. But what do you think jurors are going to say?
MYSTAL: Yes, I mean, look, we have a 15-1 white jury, and you have a judge that basically hasn't let the prosecution make its case.
And, look, the defense case is that you should only look at the situation in like the five seconds before Rittenhouse fired, right? Only look at
those five seconds. Don't look at what he did before. Don't look at what he did after. Don't look at his state of mind. Just look for five seconds,
And the judge has done a very good job of preventing the prosecution from expanding the case beyond that, beyond those five seconds. So the jury has
heard the defense's version of events, right? The defense expert says that the -- one of the people, one of the people he shot tried to put his hand
on his gun, right?
The judge got angry when the prosecution tried to point out that Kyle Rittenhouse didn't shoot -- didn't shoot Joseph Rosenbaum just one or two
times. He shot him four times, including twice in the back of the head.
The judge yelled at him, at the prosecutor, for that. So, when you talk about what the jury is going to do, like I said two weeks ago, like I could
have predicted three months ago, I believe that jury is going to acquit this boy.
GOLODRYGA: I want to play some sound for you from one of the victims. We can call them victims, I guess.
And that is Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded by Kyle Rittenhouse, and this exchange. I'm curious to get your response to how jurors would respond
to this. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, look, I don't want to -- does this look like right now your arm is being (OFF-MIKE)
GAIGE GROSSKREUTZ, KENOSHA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: That looks like my bicep being vaporized, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
And it's being vaporized as you're pointing your gun directly at him, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So when you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advance on him with your gun, now your hands down, pointed at him, that he fired,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So, Elie, knowing that Wisconsin law allows for deadly force only if it's necessary to prevent death or being assaulted, do you think
that that was damning and a damning exchange that we just heard now for the prosecution?
MYSTAL: No, because the Wisconsin law also allows you to look at the state of mind of the person before they shoot.
So, again, this is an issue of those five seconds. The defense wants you to only look at what you just played. The defense does not want you to look at
the fact that, before that -- those five seconds, Rittenhouse was seen running after people with his gun. And the reason why those three people
were advancing upon him is because they thought that he was a danger to everybody else at the protests, which he was.
So the victims of Rittenhouse are the proverbial good guys with a gun. That's the prosecution's case. But that's not the case that the judge wants
you to see. And, frankly, that's not the case that the media wants you to see either, because often what we're seeing in this trial is not just --
not just in terms of the clips, but in terms of the coverage, what we're seeing is only the defense's version of events.
We're only seeing those five seconds. We're only seeing that particular clip of Gaige admitting that he, yes, advanced upon him with a gun. We're
not seeing the video of two weeks before -- two weeks before the Kenosha, Wisconsin, protest Kyle Rittenhouse sitting on camera outside of a CVS
saying that he wished the owned a gun so he could go shoot looters.
We're not seeing that. We're not seeing the pictures directly after the trial where Kyle Rittenhouse is out free on bail that was crowdfunded by
white supremacists and is taking photos with the Proud Boys. That stuff is not being put into Kyle Rittenhouse's state of mind at the time where he
killed two people.
Instead, we're only seeing the five seconds right before he shot.
GOLODRYGA: Not to mention...
MYSTAL: Now, if you only think those five seconds, again, 15-1 white jury, I think the boy is going to walk.
GOLODRYGA: Well, not to mention that he crossed state lines, was underage, and thus was not allowed to carry an AR-15-style weapon. And, as you
mentioned, nothing that transpired prior to the actual night of the events was allowed to be put into -- and for jurors to consider as well.
Let's move to the Georgia case, because defendants there are claiming that they felt -- quote -- "a duty" to protect the neighborhood after there had
been reports of recent burglaries.
So there was video -- and I hope we can play that for now -- of Ahmaud Arbery. And he had been going inside a home that had been under
construction. By the way, this is something that, I mean, growing up in the suburbs the way I did, I would do that in the homes that were going up in
our neighborhood just wanting to check in and see what that looks like as a kid.
This isn't something that's completely unheard of. And yet this is the argument that they are making, and thus saying that they were -- quote --
"making a citizen's arrest" because there had been increased concern about crime in the neighborhood. Is that a valid argument?
MYSTAL: Yes, there's no such thing as a citizen's arrest.
What they were trying to do is kidnap them, all right? That's what that is. There is no such thing as a citizen's arrest. They didn't even know that he
had run into that house. They saw a black man running by the house. And they chased him with trucks and shot him.
I do not think Kyle Rittenhouse has a good case for self-defense, but it is a colorable case. What the McMichaels did to Arbery is a lynching, a
straight-up lynching. They chased, caught and killed that man for the crime of running through a neighborhood while black. That's what happened.
And I haven't seen anything in the trial that makes their case look any better. What I have seen is his lawyers getting angry at black people,
because, yesterday, the lawyer -- one of his lawyers literally stood up in court and asked the court to exclude black pastors from sitting with the
family of Arbery in the gallery during the trial.
He said that Al Sharpton was OK, but if they keep pulling in black lack pastors, that that is somehow prejudicial to the proceedings. That is the
level of racism that these people are willing to go to, where simply being black and clergy now is supposed to exclude you from a public trial.
MYSTAL: Even though that jury is 15 -- is also 15-1 white, I just -- to sleep at night, I have to believe that there will still be a conviction in
That is -- I have to believe that.
GOLODRYGA: When the defense attorney had actually referenced the black reverends that had been there in the courtroom, you could even see one of
his associates, one of his colleagues, look a bit uncomfortable in how she handled herself just in response to that, because it did come across as a
bit startling, and sort of out of left field.
But let me ask you about the judge in this case, because, as you mentioned, 11 wide jurors here. It's something the judge even referenced and
admonished, I would say, a bit. Let's play the clip of him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, EASTERN CIRCUIT SUPERIOR COURT: This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel.
That's that prima facie case. Quite a few African-American jurors were excused through preemptory strikes exercised by the defense. But that
doesn't mean that the court has the authority to reseat, simply again, because there's this prima facie case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So why doesn't the judge have or the court have authority to intervene here, when it's clearly obvious what is going on?
MYSTAL: He's wrong. The court does have the authority. He has a constitutional already. He has a constitutional duty to reseat that jury.
He just decided not to do it.
That just wasn't something he wanted to do that day. He absolutely had the authority and the power not only to reseat the entire jury, when, in its
totality, it was shown to be -- it was shown to be racist, but he also could have rejected the preemptory challenges offered by the defense as
they were excluding black jurors.
According to the judge, he has to accept what the white defense attorneys' pretextual reason for excluding people on the basis of race, he just has to
accept it, his hands are tied.
That's just not true. That's just not how the Constitution works. There are Supreme Court cases telling him that that's not how the constitutional
works. He doesn't care. He just didn't care that day. And now the trial goes forward with a racially impact -- with a racially biased jury.
GOLODRYGA: And the prosecution couldn't have called for a mistrial or asked for one?
MYSTAL: You know, the thing about mistrials, there's two things.
One, the person who gets to decide whether or not a mistrial has occurred is the judge. So it's kind of difficult to go in front of the judge and
say, hey, Judge, you have created a mistrial, because the judge is the one who gets to decide. And if he says no, then you got to still argue the
whole case in front of the judge who you just said was to biased to conduct the trial.
That's bad strategy, right? So it's not often that you want to ask for a mistrial because of what the judge did. Moreover, mistrials tend to benefit
the defense, right?
MYSTAL: Because the judge can declare a mistrial and dismiss the case, with prejudice, which would prevent the prosecution from retrying the
So, the prosecution more often than not really doesn't want to have a mistrial in any situation. So the concept that, yes, I think the judge made
clear reversible error, but these are...
GOLODRYGA: But not acting on it -- not acting on it is sort of -- the damage is done, is what you're saying.
Elie Mystal, this is an international audience. And, obviously, these are very two important cases that are happening within the United States, but
they're being watched abroad. And many other countries are paying close attention to what is going on here.
So, thank you for helping break this down for us. We appreciate it.
MYSTAL: Thank you so much for having me.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we turn now to someone who has made his name in Hollywood with movies like "The Butler" and "The Last King of Scotland."
Forest Whitaker says it was that role of a brutal Ugandan dictator that inspired him to become an activist. He now runs the Whitaker Peace and
Development Initiative and is also a UNESCO special envoy for peace and reconciliation.
He joined me earlier from Paris.
GOLODRYGA: So, Forest, thank you so much for joining us.
I know you're there in Paris. You spoke yesterday alongside Melinda Gates, on a panel about empowering women in vulnerable communities. I know this
has become a very important issue for you, as women around the world have had to really carry a lot of the weight throughout this pandemic.
Is there anything specific that you have learned throughout this project and the people you have worked with, with Melinda and others that you have
spoken with, that you didn't know before, and perhaps that you could share with our viewers?
WHITAKER: I think that people have to recognize that it's possible to make certain things happen as long as they have a proper focus and purpose.
When you're talking about women empowerment and female empowerment, we, as an organization, with the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative. We
have worked with women in different stratospheres, some very poor, some in regular urban environments.
And we have worked with women who actually have had no education, can't read, can't write. And we have been able to, like, work with them, teach
them how to read and write, and then work them through business training, so that they can start their own businesses, and ultimately start their own
businesses, and then start to finance the businesses of others.
So, it's been an exciting thing to know that you can overcome the obstacles that you think are there. All you have to do is just have the purpose and
the direction and the persistence, and it can happen.
GOLODRYGA: It's such an important point, because, as we talk about recovering and coming out of this pandemic, obviously, vaccines are key,
and getting people vaccinated in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world is still an uphill battle.
But getting women back to where they were even prior to the pandemic, which wasn't in an ideal situation, but getting women back to these roles of
empowerment, and whether it's through education, raising their children, starting their own businesses, it's so important.
I know that, aside from that, though, you have really been focusing on empowering young people in vulnerable hot spots around the world, whether
it's Uganda, South Sudan, South Africa, Cameroon. Why young people in particular, and what are you hearing from them as we continue to cover
social unrest, civil wars, coups in some of these countries?
WHITAKER: I think the youth are -- they have their feet in today and are present in the future. They have their foot in the future. So they're the
ones who are going to be rebuilding our society.
And we have to recognize that they have ideas, that they have energy to be able to help transform our planet in the best ways that we can.
And like you were talking about before, when you talked about some of the issues with gender, I mean, there's been like this whole movement,
unfortunately, of gender abuse. And I think that's one of the things that has to be addressed when it comes to empowerment of women, is how we can
get past that in some of these cultures in some places all over the world, something that we need to work on very deeply.
With regards to youth and children, I think that we can all recognize that, at some point, they will be the ones who will be our leaders of today. So
we have to help give them the tools, so that they can express themselves properly and help guide the world towards where it's going to go.
GOLODRYGA: And on that note, do they feel and do you feel from all of the work that you have done and people you have spoken with that the leaders of
today are doing enough to help promote and invest in the youth in some of these countries that are experiencing a lot of strife right now?
WHITAKER: I mean, I think, when you're looking at the different governments around the world, and considering we're talking about the
pandemic and what's going on with that, certainly, they're not doing enough in regards to getting vaccines to people around the world.
There are places, like in Africa, where 7 percent of the people vaccinated, only 7 percent of the people have been vaccinated. So we have to, like,
work on that. And I think we can tell that the youth across the planet has some frustrations. There has been a number of uprisings all over the world.
So, clearly, they're trying to make their voices heard, saying, look, we're concerned about the environment, we're concerned about the pandemic, we're
concerned. This is affecting all of us, and you're stamping the world with how we will be living for the next decades to come.
So, of course, we have a lot of discussions with our youth about it. And the way we tend to do that is work with them, so that they can be able to
be leaders, empower them to be voices of change, change-makers. We train them to be conflict resolutionists and to be social entrepreneurs, and then
they're starting to build businesses.
So, they are building at this moment their future. And there's a lot of youth that don't have that opportunity. We have to find ways for them to
get that opportunity to build the future for the world.
GOLODRYGA: What's really interesting, especially talking to established actors like yourself, is that there appear to be some roles that transform
you in ways that others don't and perhaps in unexpected ways.
And, obviously, you had won the Oscar for best actor in 2007 for your film "The Last King of Scotland," where you played the Ugandan dictator, Idi
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITAKER: Let me tell you, if I could be anything instead of a Ugandan, I would be a Scot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And you talk about how developing your character and your research and the time spent filming really changed you in terms of the role
that child soldiers had throughout his regime.
How did that impact you and lead you to some of the work that you're doing now?
WHITAKER: When I was working on "The Last King of Scotland," a friend asked me if I would go visit an orphanage with him in the north, north
towards Gulu. It was in Masindi.
And there I met the first child soldiers that I became really deeply acquainted with. And I started to work there at the orphanage, started to
build the library, build their technology portal, and different things of that nature.
And it's from there that I started to do the work that I'm doing with UNESCO, with the U.N., and, of course, with my organization, WPDI. That's
how it all began. And from there, we have now affected about 1, 300,000 people. And we have about 300 jobs that we have created or businesses that
we have created from our programs. So it's been a journey from that point.
When I met with the child soldiers, there was a similarity, a look that I had seen in the children that I known or youths that I knew from my
neighborhood in South Central.
And it was that that kind of let me see that there was a bond, that we were connected in a deep way. So, I decided to start working with them and
ultimately started this organization. And now we're 10 years' strong.
GOLODRYGA: That's incredible.
And they really inspired you as you gave a speech and you explained when you were awarded, decorated commander in the French order of the arts and
letters, that you said that they helped you come to terms with your own trauma as a child at the age of 8. Can you talk about that?
WHITAKER: When I was a little kid, I was just walking down the street and some older teenager about three times my size started to beat me up and
pummel me down.
And I remember laying on the ground there, thinking, why? It was that question why that kind of has sparked me to go on the journey that I have
been on. And I have been getting answers, I guess, in some ways by the youths that I'm working with regards to what is prompting things to happen
in their lives, what's prompting them to do certain things, to make certain choices in how we can create a planet that's filled more with peace than
GOLODRYGA: And I know that when you -- when you gave that speech, and you recalled that trauma that you experienced as a youth, your own daughters
were there to see you receive this honor, but also listen to these words.
And I'm curious as to why you felt compelled to tell it now and their reactions having watched you.
WHITAKER: It was interesting, because my daughters did tell me their opinion. They were really proud of me receiving that honor.
And -- but they said that they felt like they learned a lot too from some of the things that I said that they hadn't heard me tell the stories as
deeply as I did that day. So it was good that it was just more of a bonding moment for me and my daughters as well that night.
GOLODRYGA: I'm curious to get your take. I know that you are an eternal optimist, and, boy, do we need to hear more of that in these times. There
seems to be more and more disarray around the world, more polarization in the United States back home.
We continue to battle with the pandemic. What gives you the optimism that you continue to feel and exude upon youth?
WHITAKER: Well, if not us, then who? If we don't take a stance to try to change tomorrow into a better place, then who are we expecting to do so?
And I think it's possible I have learned. I have seen situations where a young girl can go in, in between two warring parties, and stop them from
fighting, the tribes that killed 10,000 people. And I have seen where they have stood in front of a tank, basically, and stopped an army from going
inside of a school.
I have seen, like, things that seem impossible, but it is possible. It just has -- it just takes your sense of purpose, your willingness to try to
change things for the better. And a lot of great things can happen.
And I have been a witness and I have seen what I consider miracles happen just in the normal course of people's lives.
GOLODRYGA: How is all of that reflected on the Hollywood of tomorrow, given the social reckoning, the racial reckoning, the pandemic, the
inequities that we're experiencing, not only in the United States, obviously, but around the world?
Has it made you look differently upon the industry, Hollywood itself, and the roles that you are hoping to take on in future years?
WHITAKER: I think it's affected the kind of roles that I play. I tend to play all different types of characters, because I continue to explore
mankind through my work.
I think it's an unusual time, because we're -- because of the streaming market and things of that nature, there's a lot more films that are dealing
with niche markets. So there's films that are coming out where you wouldn't have naturally -- they wouldn't have been made, but because of an
algorithm, they realize that there is an audience for a film, which has turned into a positive thing.
GOLODRYGA: You know, forgive me, because I'm assuming that you will continue to just pursue your career as an actor.
And I have to say, standing in front of those flags behind you with the Eiffel Tower there, there is something very political in that image. And
I'm wondering if there's any thoughts in your mind about perhaps pursuing a career in politics and becoming a public servant and maybe inspired by some
of the work that you're doing off-camera.
WHITAKER: I think I will continue to do philanthropic work.
I think more and more -- we will be doing more and more out of my -- it'll take up more of my space, until, ultimately, it probably takes up all of
the space that I have. But I'm not interested really in going into politics. It's not an avenue I think I will go down.
But I will continue to try to work with people and build a better world, as more of a philanthropist than anything.
GOLODRYGA: Well, that is really inspiring to hear.
And, hopefully, we can speak later about some of your other endeavors that you're working on and the work that you're doing there on the ground, and
your humanitarian aid as well.
Forest is has been a pleasure speaking with you. We are all fans of your work, both on and off camera, and we appreciate the time.
WHITAKER: Thanks. It's great to talk to you.
GOLODRYGA: Yesterday on this program, Christiane asked Iran's deputy foreign minister about the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British
Iranian woman who had been detained for more than five years in Iran.
A project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she was accused in 2016 of working with organizations allegedly attempting to overthrow the
regime. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has been on hunger strike outside of Britain's foreign office for 20 days to pressure the British government
to secure his wife's release. And he is joining me now.
Richard, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
I know you are on day 20 of this hunger strike in effort to free your wife. And this isn't the first time that you have gone on hunger strike together
with her, we should note that she is also on hunger strike. How are you doing? How are you feeling right now?
RICHARD RATCLIFFE, HUSBAND OF NAZANIN ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE: Thank you. Yes, that's right. I'm here in front the British Foreign Office. This is day 20.
It's fairly cold and wet here in London. So, yes, it's probably after 20 days. It's a tiring experience. I'm weary, weaker and quieter voice than I
had a while back. But, you know, I've been surrounded by lots of lovely people, lots of care, lots of support for Nazanin. And yes, I really
appreciate all the support we have received.
GOLODRYGA: You haven't seen Nazanin now in over seven years. She has been imprisoned for five and a half years and -- on house arrest since March of
2020. As I noted, she also is going through a hunger strike right now. Have you been able to communicate with her and what has she been telling you
about your state? I know that she expressed concern about the elements and how you're doing.
RATCLIFFE: That's right. So, Nazanin not on hunger strike at the moment. But she's obviously very worried about me. You know, we did do a hunger
strike before, as you said, together. She went on one inside a prison in Tehran. I did it in front of the reigning members in order to amplify that
and make visible, but she was in control of that. When she stopped, I stopped.
This is very different from her because, of course, I'm in control of it and I'm doing it. She's far away. She gets to check the weather on the
internet and see just how cold it is. And, obviously, after 20 days, that seems an uncharted territory. I mean, all political prisoners held in Iran
are made to feel highly anxious all the time. It's one of the things the Iranian authorities do, the various forms of psychological manipulation and
So, she's anxious anyway. Anxious about being put back into prison. She (INAUDIBLE) a new sentence issued three weeks ago, which is why we started
doing this. But yes, very simple level. Worried about her husband and doing hunger strike. And at this point, probably hoping an end point soon.
GOLODRYGA: The detention also centers around a debt of 400 million pounds that had been owed to Iran prior, pre-dating the 1979 revolution. I know
this had been a conversation that had been raised between the deputy foreign minister from Iran and the U.K. Middle East minister, James
Cleverly, they had met earlier. I know you've met with Minister Cleverly.
What came out of that meeting? It sounds like from what I've read, you say not much.
RATCLIFFE: Yes. That's right. So, Nazanin is held over a debt of U.K. as to Iran that's why she was taken and it's taken a long time to push the
government to say, what's -- acknowledge the fact that actually it's not responsible to let your citizens be held hostage over debt you owe.
Yesterday, James Cleverly met with the Iranian deputy foreign minister. A series of meetings we have with officials afterwards. We didn't get to meet
the Iranian deputy foreign minister. We did get to meet Minister Cleverly to find out what happened. He was very circumspect in what he said, made
clear that he's raise Nazanin's case. He made clear that there have been a cordial conversation, but wouldn't be any -- at all forthcoming on what
happened on the debt, wouldn't be at all forthcoming on any timelines for Nazanin coming home. And wouldn't talk at all about whether it was all
linked to the nuclear deal and other wider and more complicated issues.
So, I ended up getting very exasperated and said, listen, you know, if I'm honest, it feels like there's no hope here. I just think you're allowing
Iran to play cat and mouse with Nazanin. If you continue on this path, then she'll be back in prison.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. You said that meeting, you described it as a placebo, really. Nothing really tangible to take away from it. Let me ask you about
Boris Johnson and his role in all of this. I was really taken by an opinion piece that was in "The Guardian" today, and it writes, Boris Johnson's
betrayal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe shows us who he really is. Boris Johnson should look Richard Ratcliffe in the eye. If he did, he would catch
a reflection of himself that might prove painful but illuminating for contained in his handling and fateful mishandling of the case of Richard's
wife, Nazanin Ratcliffe, is almost every aspect of the Johnson modus operandi.
Do you agree with that harsh assessment given his history with this case, given the blunder that he made when he said she was there educating people
when you had all along said that she has been there visiting family? How much blame do you think lies with Boris Johnson?
RATCLIFFE: Well, Boris Johnson is the prime minister. So, he is responsible. And, yes, I mean, that's obviously a very tough opinion piece.
But it's fair. The fact is that Boris Johnson, when he was foreign secretary, made that mistake and said she was training journalists when she
was just there on holiday. Worse than that, wouldn't apologize. Doubled down. Sent his friends on the air waves to muddy the water and said it
wasn't clear what she was doing he knew perfectly well what she was doing.
And then, after that, realized it was about the debt and promised to pay it to the Iranians and then, didn't. And it was probably that latest point
that was the most unforgivable, that set a price for Nazanin and, you know, certainly, when he became prime minister, the Iranian clearly expecting to
pay it. In fact that he hasn't to date is a failure of responsibility on his part.
GOLODRYGA: Iran also doesn't recognize dual nationality and that is an issue that came up with Christiane when she spoke with the deputy foreign
minister yesterday asking about this with regards to her case. Let's play the clip for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The British government has been urged to insist that Iran releases their nationals, including Nazanin, as a sign of goodwill before
going back into these talks. When will you release Nazanin Zaghari- Ratcliffe?
ALI BAGHERI KANI, IRANIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): If people are accused of anything and if there are judgments against them and
there are decrees by the court, if they have an Iranian nationality, they are considered as Iranian nationals and dealt with accordingly. Therefore,
if somebody has nationality of another country, that person is not going to enjoy any additional entitlements nor will they actually suffer from any
lack of privileges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Richard, what is your reaction to that response?
RATCLIFFE: Well, I think it's disingenuous on two points. Firstly, obviously, Iran recognizes dual nationality, that they might use it
(INAUDIBLE) to pretend they picked Nazanin up because she had a British passport and it's a British passport that's operative in her entire
misfortune and abuse that she's received in the hands of the Iran authorities. They hold her as a tool of pressure on the British government.
And the second point is, you know, her court case was entirely invented. She's had two court cases. Finished one. Was given a second one. The head
of the prisoner, Evan (ph), told her, listen, it's a made-up case. The interrogators told her, we wouldn't take you to court if we get what --
they agree with the British. They then took her to court. All along it's been perfectly clear that it was an entirely cynical attempt, various
They know she's innocent. They know that nothing has happened. And the great problem that Iran has is that its judicial system is now the tool of
GOLODRYGA: Well, Richard, we appreciate your time and your dedication to your wife and also your seven-year-old daughter who hasn't seen her mother
since she was just a baby. I know you said you don't want to leave her without two parents and that you will not let this go much further, but we
appreciate everything that you are doing right now to make this a global case. Thank you so much.
RATCLIFFE: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we turn now to a musical legend who needs little introduction. Carlos Santana rose to stardom in the late 1960s has a
captivating guitarist and has since gained 10 Grammys and millions of fans worldwide. His band recently released their new album called "Blessings and
Miracles." And he joined Walter Isaacson to discuss the inspiration behind the album and the people and experiences who have shaped him as an artist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Bianna. And wow, Carlos Santana, welcome to the show.
CARLOS SANTANA, GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING ARTIST: Thank you. Very grateful and happy to be here.
ISAACSON: And congratulations on this new album. I mean, "Blessings and Miracles." It really picks up themes you've been doing for 50 years, which
is sort of a spiritual soulfulness. Tell me how this new album sort of reflects your current take on the world today.
SANTANA: For me, where the world is, it seems like there's two ingredients that we need desperately in a positive way, which is hope and courage. You
know, hope and courage will bring unity, harmony, and awareness of totality. When you become aware of your own totality, you're able to be
more compassionate towards yourself and everybody else. So, I wanted to create music. I call this music mystical medicine in music to heal a world
infected with fear and darkness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ISAACSON: You talk about how this new album and its medicine, in a way, is there to help us a little bit come out of these political times in which
we've gotten so divided. Tell me to what extent politics is now playing into your music a little bit more.
SANTANA: I think more and more humans are graduating to becoming spiritual adults. Spiritual adults in the fifth dimension have absolutely no need for
religion or politics. So, right now, in the third dimension, we honor and respect and we pay the fee of living in a world that is invested in
patriotism, nationalism and everybody else not so good but we're number one, you know.
Fifth dimension, we are all worthy of God's grace and we all worthy of our own lives. Artists create a vision that shows people whether you're
Republican or Democrat. Look, we are worthy of our own life and we can work together, embracing our differences and celebrating our uniqueness,
authenticity, you know, So, sometimes it's the way you present the words that humans go, hmm, I never thought it like that, but it sounds better
than regurgitating the same stupid [bleep] we've been doing, which is hurting one another globally.
So, music and harmony uplifts people so you can see with spirit, not with ego. Ego is the third dimension. Victim mentality.
ISAACSON: You know, we biographers sometimes believe when it's a creative, you know, guy like yourself that it's all about dad, that you're really
trying to live up to the values your father hit you with. Tell me about growing up with your dad in a small town in Mexico and what he did for you.
SANTANA: My dad instilled in me a certain male charm confidence. If I play the guitar or not, you know, there's a way for a man to increase your
magnanimous magnetism with women and men as far as like, you know, children because you've become a pillar in the community. You know, you become --
you have a reputation that when you come in, because my father would come into a room and everybody would stop whatever they were saying, and they
go, oh, Don Jose (ph), welcome and how are you? You know, and I noticed people's eyes and their voice, how to change, as soon as dad would come
into a room.
And so, he -- somehow, he gained their total respect and trust of them, you know, So, I said, that's what I want, you know, beyond the music. I want to
be like my father because he's like Clark Gable, you know, when it comes to just charm, magnetism and all that stuff. So, I want to be like him.
ISAACSON: But, of course, it's also really all about mom too. And I notice you dedicated your memoir a few years back to your mother. What did you get
SANTANA: Thank you. My mother gave me probably the most important -- at least seven times, my mother rescued me from me. You know, living
(INAUDIBLE) or before I came out of the womb, you know, my mother -- for all of this, you know, my mother, she was the conviction person in the
house. My dad was charisma. She's total conviction. When she says, we go, we go. You know, like, we go from out a land to Tijuana. From Tijuana to
Whenever she would say, nos vamos, which we're going, and I'm going if you -- come with me or you stay, but I'm going, you know. And so, I learned
from my mother that she had this thing about just raw, raw pure belief that God's going to give to you. And I know he's going to give it to me. And
she's saying almost like she's holding God's coat, you know, like and he's going to give it to me, you know, And I was like, wow, this woman is really
something else. So, she's shown me undoubting faith and trust in what she believes.
ISAACSON: You said she rescued you from yourself. Wow, that's an interesting phrase. What do you mean by that?
SANTANA: You know, a lot of people who commit suicide long-term or want to, they commit suicide because they're being bamboozled by their own mind.
You know, their own mind convinces them that they're not worthy or this -- you know, all those voices that people hear, that's why they go see
analysts, therapists and psychiatrists, you know. And my mom just -- would just say a few words, and would say (INAUDIBLE), which means, that is not
for you, which means cocaine, heroin, or anything that's going to become hurtful and a distraction to your mission, which is to play music to unite
the world, you know.
So, don't dillydally in a house with people who are invested in malicious darkness. You know, like Clever fools. San Quentin is full of clever fools,
you know. But then, there's wisdom. And my mom gave me wisdom with conviction.
ISAACSON: You have written about child molestation, being molested yourself when you were young by a rich American guy. To what extent do you
work through that in your music?
SANTANA: You find a place where you forgive the person completely, totally and absolutely. Like for example, when you see -- when I see that person
now, you know, it's -- I reduce that person to a seven-year-old child and someone did the same thing to that person, you know. And when I see that
child, seven-year-old child, you know, then I can see that behind that child is -- there's the sun, you know, like a lamp, a round sphere behind
And so, if I'm not correctly spiritually centered and grounded, then I would want him to go to hell. I would want to condemn him to go to hell.
But this is the thing. When you send someone to hell, you're going with him too. And I was like, no, I don't want to do that. So, I said, I forgive you
and I release you through your own life.
And since that day, I don't have no pain or no -- you know, this thing happened, no. Because I am not what happened to me. I am not the body. I am
free. I still am as God created me. And God created me with purity and innocence.
ISAACSON: When you were 19, your band opened for the Who at the film war. It's a historic moment in rock. Tell me about that. Take me back to that
SANTANA: You know, it was so surreal because I guess I was so excited, I kept breaking guitar strings. I had so much energy and so much zest (ph)
and enthusiasm, I kept breaking strings. And the Who were not there yet, except for the drummer, Keith Moon. So, when he see me breaking the second
string and the band playing but they're waiting for me, you know, that time I only had one guitar.
So, he went and opened the case from Pete (ph), you know, and he gave me the guitar. He said, go ahead. I was like, oh, thank you. You know, so I
plug in the guitar and kept playing. So, Keith Moon, you know, was asking me a beat being the drummer, he gave me the guitar and I was like, oh, my
God, you know. But it's been like that every day in my life, you know, since I came to San Francisco.
You know, meeting Bill Graham or Clair (ph) Davis or Miles Davis. Every day -- you know, Peter Thompson or B.B. King, every day is nothing but
blessings and miracles and things outside, you know, incredible moments outside of time that you can't quantize. You know, priceless is the only
that you can think of. Priceless.
ISAACSON: Tell me about Jerry Garcia at Woodstock doing -- helping you.
SANTANA: So, we got there around 12:00 in the afternoon, between 12:01. He was landing in his helicopter, same helicopters that were flying in
Vietnam. And when we looked downstairs, it was literally like an ocean of flesh and hair and teeth and eyes. And we were like, oh, my God, you know.
And so, when we landed -- anyway, to make it short. The person I saw was Jerry Garcia. And Jerry Garcia goes, hey, man, what time are you guys going
to go on? I go, well, three bands after you. He goes, well, we're not going until 12:30 at night. This is a mess, you know.
It was almost 1:00 in the afternoon, and you're not going until 12:30 at night and we're going three bands after you? And Jerry goes, yes. And I got
some of this. You want to try some of this? And it was -- you know, it was something that makes you -- it expends -- expands your -- it alters your
consciousness without a shadow of a doubt. And I'm grateful because right there, it put me under fire. I could have just like -- youi know, because
they told me I had go on immediately, not 12:00 -- so, I'm like, oh, I just came on. And I'm like -- and then (INAUDIBLE) like that, you know, like,
oh, I hope I can remember even my name. You know, how to move my fingers.
And so, I heard his voice said, just trust me, you know, just say, God, help me stay in time and in tune. Please, God, help me -- please help stay
in time and in tune and I'll never do this thing again, I promise. He helped me stay in time and in tune apparently. And here we are still
talking about it because it was about energy.
ISAACSON: Let me ask you about a few influencers on your music. Let me start with Otis Rush.
SANTANA: Oh, my God. You're talking about just pure -- there's very few people in the planet who can squeeze the juice out of a note like Miles
Davis, Coltrane, Otis Rush. I mean, because when they get inside that note, they're touching totality and absoluteness and eternity. So, you, by just
hearing it, right next to you, you become part of that. It reminds you too, and you and I, that we're not limited wretched sinners, poor little
victims, you know, little tiny nothing, we're chopped liver and God is everything. No.
You know, when Otis Rush plays, whether it's like Peter Green or Eric Clapton, all the baddest guys from Europe, we're all listening to the same
people from Chicago, you know.
ISAACSON: Is that how the blues got to be part of your musical tradition?
SANTANA: Yes. The music for me and -- people were listening to this, were listening to that. I wasn't listening to this or that. I was listening to
John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Lightnin' Hopkins, which is like the root of the blues. Kind of like Woody Guthrie and, you know, Johnny Cash and Willie
Nelson, the blues, you know, it may be country but still blues, you know, because it's based around folk music from the world, you know, whether it's
from Ireland or from the Africa, folk music is folk music, you know.
So, I had learned from the blues that you must feel -- have feeling, emotion, passion, sensation. All of it in one note. This is not background
music. No. When certain people play, they get your undivided attention, because you can't think of anything else. You're in a spell. They take you
out of your existence, you know.
ISAACSON: You develop what you called a universal tone. Explain to me what that is and how that tied into the mission you were on.
SANTANA: The universal tone, you know, all children, especially babies, they could be in an airport, there could be like two babies and -- close to
the gates and one baby -- so they don't know how to speak English or Spanish or (INAUDIBLE), they make a few sounds to the other baby turns
around and it's like their communicating, you know.
John Lee Hooker would go -- everybody knows what that is, whether you're Japanese or -- you know. So, that's universal tone also. So, I found
through my dad that I can zone in, zero in at a sound that makes molecular structure, transmogrified molecular structure. What does that mean? That's
a little far out. Transmogrified molecular structure, means your hair stands up, you cry and you laugh and you don't know why, you start dancing.
Music took you to a place where they call it being saved or, you know, a revival or, you know, all of the above, or a voodoo, you know, it's all the
same thing. It means being totally spirited. The ego has to sit this one down.
ISAACSON: Thank you so much, Carlos Santana, for joining us.
SANTANA: Stay precious. Bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: It doesn't get much better than ending the week with Santana.
Well, that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye from
New York. Have a great weekend.