Return to Transcripts main page
Desperation in Ukraine; Interview With French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne; Emmanuel Macron Wins Reelection. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 25, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to a very windy show from France.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): French President Emmanuel Macron fends off the far right challenger Marine Le Pen. But the forces behind her campaign still
I get reactions from former Macron campaign spokesperson Laurence Haim and the French ambassador in Washington, Philippe Etienne.
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Our focus in the meeting was to talk about those things that would enable us to win the current fight and
also build for tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: American secretaries of defense and state leave Kyiv with promises to do more.
And after a month under siege in a Mariupol basement, Ukrainian Alina Beskrovna tells us about her harrowing escape.
RONAN FARROW, "THE NEW YORKER": This is something that I think we're starting to realize officials from every country needs to worry about.
AMANPOUR: Reporter Ronan Farrow tells Hari Sreenivasan about his latest investigation: how democracies spy on their citizens.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Paris.
Emmanuel Macron is the first French president in two decades to win reelection, comfortably beating is hard right challenger, Marine Le Pen, in
the second round just yesterday. It's a result that reinforces the pro-NATO Western alliance at a crucial time, as Putin's war in Ukraine grinds
towards a 62nd day.
Given Le Pen's ties to and has sympathies with Putin and his world view, it's probably also no doubt a disappointing result for the Kremlin. But
they did release a statement where President Putin congratulated President Macron. And Marine Le Pen has improved on her 2017 second round performance
by around seven points.
There was a very low voter turnout by French standards, and there are parliamentary elections in six weeks' time. Indeed, Le Pen herself declared
a great victory, a sentiment echoed by her national rally, MEP, Herve Juvin. He told me: "The future is ours."
French journalist Laurence Haim served as Macron's spokesperson during his 2017 presidential campaign, and she's joining me here in Paris.
Welcome to the program.
LAURENCE HAIM, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON FOR EMMANUEL MACRON: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
AMANPOUR: It was a nail-biter for a while. After the first round, we saw the polls moving up. But, still, people were worried. They saw Brexit. They
But he sort of dodged a bullet, right? What means -- what does this mean, this victory, for France, first of all?
HAIM: It means that the country has to be united, no matter what you're looking at the results, because, yes, it's a big result, big success for
Last week, we were talking about, is he going to make it? Is it going to be 53 or is it going to be 54? It's 58.
AMANPOUR: Nearly 59.
So I think even himself, he's quite happy about the result. And you saw yesterday, was it, Macron's wife, who was very moved. Honestly, 59, big
success for the French president. And, also, he's the first president in 20 years to have been reelected.
However, if you're a journalist, and if you're looking an objectival way -- objective way, you're going to see something quite different about the
fracture of the French society.
HAIM: You have 41 percent of people who have voted for Marine Le Pen, for the far right, 20 percent who didn't go to vote; 41, plus 28, it's 60 --
above 60 percent.
And then you have also people who voted, but who said, we don't want Macron, we don't want Le Pen. And when you added Marine Le Pen's voters,
plus 28 percent of people who didn't go to vote, plus people who voted what we call in France null, meaning...
AMANPOUR: Yes, they spoiled it, yes.
HAIM: You're arriving at a figure of over 70 percent.
AMANPOUR: Which means what?
HAIM: Which means the country is extremely divided.
We have parliamentary elections in six weeks, and we don't know what's going to happen. Macron has to unite the country. And he knows that. And
we're going to see in the following weeks how he's going to try to go to the left side, to go to the right center, because he knows that traditional
politics, it's over.
AMANPOUR: So that's a good thing, then. This is a really important time for that kind of unity to be forged.
HAIM: It has to be united. Otherwise, it's going to be a disaster. And that's the lesson of the French elections.
Usually, in France, we're always saying, oh, you know, what's happening in America is happening four years later in France, or five years later. Now,
France might give lessons to the United States. There is no classical party anymore. It's completely dead.
The Socialist Party is under 5 percent. The classical Republican Party, he's a disaster. So you have Macron and you have the extremes. And Macron
has to recompose the French political society.
AMANPOUR: OK, so you were his spokesperson during the 2017 campaign. You spent a lot of time with him. You got to know his style, his professional
style, probably a bit of his personal style.
What -- so...
HAIM: As a journalist, I can be critical now.
AMANPOUR: Yes, of course you can. So...
HAIM: I'm going to say that...
AMANPOUR: So, what does he need to do? What is his character? And how will it help him?
HAIM: I think he's a lonely person.
And I think he trusts one person, his wife. And, sometimes, when you're working for him, it could have been difficult, because he's listening. But
we're saying that, when you are politicians, it's good to have a contra- power.
HAIM: And I think, with Emmanuel Macron, you can see sometimes his loneliness.
He's absolutely convinced that he's the right who is going to make the final decision. He is surrounded. And that's also something which was quite
interesting and the French people noticed. He is surrounded by what we call in France technocrats.
So there's a kind of contradiction in the Macron character about his ability to bring the civil society to help him. And he's trying, but the
inability for the political professional team to work with the civil society.
And I think it's going to be the challenge for him. Is he going to surround himself by technocrats, by people who went to school? Or is he to open his
mandate to the civil society? And you can see again poll after polls, when you go to the streets, when you speak, as you did, to the French people,
they want something else in politics.
Traditional politic doesn't work anymore. And Macron has to find something which is not the populist message, but which is a message open and
listening to the civil society.
AMANPOUR: So, as I said, Marine Le Pen, you saw her concession, non- concession speech. I mean, of course, she accepted she had lost, but she did not congratulate him. In fact, she said she had won a great victory,
and that she was pledging to rally her party to defeat him in the legislative elections.
Her -- one of her MEPs told me that, basically, the future is ours. Let's just play what he told me in an interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERVE JUVIN, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I hope, I firmly hope the future is ours election after election.
Marine Le Pen did so well. And now I think there is a new hope for a lot of French citizens to go to better social progress, to go to stand after
division, and to go to a peaceful and more friendly France. France is back again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, using a Joe Biden comment, I mean, he said France is back again.
So I guess what I want to ask you is this. If you say that Macron has so many challenges, he still won. And this kind of view clearly is not the
kind of view of the majority of the French people. Otherwise, they would have voted for Le Pen.
HAIM: I think, when you speak to the French people, they're very worried about the future.
Everyone I know is expecting demonstrations in the streets in the coming months. Nobody knows if Macron is going to be accepted. The parliamentary
election, meaning the French midterms, if I may say, are going to happen again in six weeks.
It's not the same system that is in the United States, but the new prime minister will be issued from the result of those parliamentary elections.
So, nobody knows what's going to happen. A lot of people wonder proportional, meaning that all parties are represented, it's very
difficult, constitutionally speaking, to do in six weeks those kind of proportional system.
A lot of people want to know if Macron is going to do that. So there are a lot of challenge for him in terms of the economic uncertainty, the war in
Ukraine, the COVID, which is not over. We know a lot of people in France who are getting sick. And we don't know exactly if it's Omicron or not. So
he has a lot of challenge ahead.
He is going to change his government in the next two weeks, because that's the tradition. We're going to see who is going to be appointed as his new
prime minister. Is it going to be a technocrat, as Julien Denormandie, who has been the minister of agriculture, who has been there from the beginning
with Macron, who is a very young, ambitious technocrat?
Is it going to be a woman? A lot of people are saying that Macron is tempted to take Christine Lagarde, but he needs her at the bank at this
AMANPOUR: Yes. She's the head of the ECB.
HAIM: She's the head -- exactly.
HAIM: So the French prime minister, the choice of Macron, is going to tell you what Macron two is going to be about.
AMANPOUR: OK. And in the meantime, you mentioned the war in Ukraine. He's obviously a key supporter of helping Ukraine and facing down this invasion.
And Marine Le Pen would have been completely different. But, of course, it comes at pain because of the sanctions. This is what President Macron's
minister for Europe told us about more pain for the people of France.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLEMENT BEAUNE, FRENCH MINISTER OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS: When Marine Le Pen's party said, for instance, we should not do the ban on oil or maybe
tomorrow gas, because it will have an impact on the French people lives, it will have an impact.
We will manage it. We will try to mitigate it. But we cannot say that the war has no price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he's saying they're going to try to cushion people from the worst pain.
But this effort to try to prop up democracy in the world and defeat an invader, he's going to have to really tell the people that they're in for
potentially a long time.
HAIM: Yes, he is really trying to protect the French people from what's happening, because Ukraine is closer to France than to the United States.
HAIM: And also, with Syria, you had a big refugees crisis.
HAIM: And with Ukraine, you have the second refugees crisis.
Now, I'm curious to see. I think I did a mistake in my political analyzed last week, because I thought, OK, Macron is going to go to Ukraine, and
he's going to see Zelenskyy. He didn't go. Now he's reelected. When is he going to go?
He's going to go to Berlin probably in the next two or three weeks after the French inauguration. And then is he going to go to see Zelenskyy?
What's going to be his relation with Putin? Because, as you know very well, Macron decided to speak a lot with Putin. How he's going to go with the
Bucha massacre, with what's happening.
AMANPOUR: Well, he's condemned all that, to be fair.
HAIM: He's condemned.
But to go there, and a lot of people on the left wanted him to go there, and to show to the world that he was denouncing what happened, but to go to
Kyiv, like Boris Johnson did, like a lot of people did -- Macron didn't go to Kyiv. When is he going to go? Is it going to interfere for the left
people in, again, those parliamentary elections and the campaign, which is going to be very hard?
That's something to see.
AMANPOUR: Laurence Haim, thank you very much.
And we're going to ask our next guest precisely that question about that kind of travel, because Western leaders have reacted to Macron's victory
with undisguised relief. The U.S. president, Joe Biden, telling reporters today that he feels good about the French election.
And, on Sunday, he tweeted this: "Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his reelection. France is our oldest ally and a key partner in addressing
global challenges. I look forward to our continued close cooperation, including on supporting Ukraine, defending democracy and countering climate
Now, Philippe Etienne is the Elysees' man in Washington. He is the ambassador. And he's joining us from the U.S. capital.
So welcome back to our program, Ambassador Etienne.
Can I just ask you to respond to some provocative questions by Laurence Haim, who was his spokesperson in his first campaign? Do you think
President Macron will visit Ukraine, Kyiv, like many other leaders have done, in the aftermath of his election now?
PHILIPPE ETIENNE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, first, thank you, Christiane, from for inviting me from windy Paris.
AMANPOUR: It's very windy.
ETIENNE: And, of course, we...
ETIENNE: Of course, the policy -- the foreign policy of France will not change now, we know it, in supporting Ukraine more and more. President
Macron has said it quite clearly last week.
He even mentioned the growing delivery of weapons. He said also that he would visit Ukraine if it were -- if it was useful. And one of the first
president, the very first president he talked to was President -- after his reelection was -- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
And he always said also that he would keep in touch with him. And he's doing that. And I'm sure that one of the results of these high-stake
elections is that this policy of supporting Ukraine will remain.
Laurence Haim mentioned the Bucha. You know France was, if not the first, at least the very first countries to send investigators, forensic experts
to help the Ukrainian justice.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Etienne, let me just ask you, in terms of negotiations, some people, including Laurence, have raised this issue of
President Macron spending a lot of time talking to Putin.
Nothing really came of it. They remember he spent a lot of time using his personal -- or what he believed was his personal connections with President
Trump to try to get him not to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. That didn't work either.
Explain to me why President Macron spends that amount of time trying to convince what are clearly recalcitrant leaders.
ETIENNE: Well, first, there are things which there are results.
I remember having worked with President Macron at that time. You mentioned Iran, but there were results in the U.S. not pulling out from Syria, for
instance, and continuing the fight against terrorist groups in Syria and in Iraq. So, those discussions at that time had results.
Concerning the discussions that my president had with Russian president, like other leaders, by the way, the German chancellor, recently, the
president of the European Council, or the prime minister of Israel, or the president of Turkey...
ETIENNE: ... it has always been done in very close cooperation and consultation with the Ukrainian president, knowing that Putin always
refused to talk directly to the president of Ukraine, to President Zelenskyy.
So, again, I'm sure that, if it is useful, those contacts will be -- will be organized by our president. But now, after this reelection, you must
also, Christiane, remember that France is holding the presidency of the European Union, is the rotating chair of the Council of the E.U., as we
So it is also in these capacities that we are acting. And now we know we will continue to act with the reelection of our president for -- in the
support of Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So let me then ask -- yes. So let me ask you, because President Macron from the very beginning -- and some call it prescient, given the
threat from Russia to Europe -- you in France are much closer to this threat than, for instance, the United States.
So, Macron, from the beginning believed in a stronger, less dependent Europe, whether it's militarily and otherwise. Now that he is the senior
European leader, despite his young age, reelected, and, well, the senior European leader, as many are calling him now, do you think the project of
beefing up Europe's, I guess, somewhat independence on key issues will continue?
Is that a mission for this president now?
ETIENNE: Well, I'm sure it will continue, even if you will see in this second mandate some changes.
For instance, he announced still a bigger ambition in the climate transition. And this -- but this priority to strengthen Europe, I'm sure,
will remain. And together with the United States also, in this direction, we can build on the declaration which President Macron and President Biden
adopted in Rome last year at the end of October, where the United States says that it understands how important even for the U.S. and for global
security a stronger, more capable European defense is.
And the war in Ukraine has still reinforced this necessity of making Europe and of making the European Union itself a stronger ally, a more reliable
ally. So I'm sure we will continue on this way.
AMANPOUR: And given the fact that, obviously, President Biden has welcomed and praised and said he was happy about this election result here, and that
he looked forward to continuing the struggle with his ally, the president, in the fight in Ukraine, but also in the global fight to shore up
democracy, just give me your view on the -- on how relieved you may be to see somebody who's so keen on shoring up liberal democracy as we know it
In other words, what would you have thought, what would the task of French diplomats been had a Le Pen won?
ETIENNE: Well, we have a reelected president. And we see indeed how, both internally, but also worldwide, it is important to value and to defend our
common of values of liberty, of freedom, of choice of our election free elections, as the Ukrainian people try to fight for.
And this is one of the reasons we must fight for them. But we must also see, as I said, the internal dimension of this, and our president said that
he is aware of the challenges. And he will have a new method to -- after we went through so many crises, yellow vests, pandemic, war in Ukraine now, to
reinforce our own democracy.
And Laurence Haim mentioned the consultation of our citizens, as he has started doing with conventions of citizens, for instance. And, finally, one
very important thing internally in France -- in France is also to consolidate our society, our economy, and to build up on the -- and it has
not been enough repeated or said even the very successful reforms, the job -- and unemployment is down in France from 2 percent in those five years of
the first mandate.
We had an amazing, incredible, successful reform of apprenticeship. All -- all of this is linked to democracy, to our democracies, to empower our
citizens, our entrepreneurs, to make social progress and economic progress happen. So this is the internal dimension.
And, of course, there is the external dimension, where, together with the other European nations, together with our allies, we will try to show to
the other countries in the world, like African countries, that we draw the consequences of the awful war in Ukraine, for instance, food security,
climate. The democracies must show they are efficient, both internally and worldwide.
AMANPOUR: That's a really interesting perspective.
So, does Macron -- he won with a convincing margin, obviously. He does have, I guess, a battle, given how many -- there were abstentions, how many
voted for the extremes, when it comes to the parliamentary elections? Do you think he will have a mandate from the people after the elections to
pursue these policies that you're talking about and to try to unite the country?
ETIENNE: We will see what happens then.
Your previous interlocutor, Laurence Haim, explained the appointment of a new prime minister, and then the preparation of parliamentary elections. So
it will be, again, the decision of the French people.
But our president has always -- our reelected president has already yesterday signaled a certain number of important directions. And I think
they are -- in particular, they cover these concerns, real concerns about the division of our country, I would say division of our societies in
France, in the United States, in many other democracies.
And when he said he has listened to the message by all those who have voted or not voted, whatever they have voted or not voted, I think it gives the
direction he wants to take.
AMANPOUR: And I just want to ask you personally, because you have worked in his government for a long, long time, from the beginning.
You have said several times, "our reelected president." I see that it's a great issue of pride for you, clearly for him, since it's the first time in
20 years. Just give me a sense of your personal feelings, given the result from last night.
ETIENNE: Well, as an ambassador, I have to be cautious to express my personal feelings.
But I can tell you that, indeed, it's a very important result. It's the first time a president is reelected since 20 years. It's a first time in
the Fifth Republic a president is reelected, with the exceptions of two other presidents which, when they were reelected, had a government, a
Parliament where the opposition had the majority, so a quite different situation.
So, altogether, also as a diplomat, as a French ambassador, the impression that France in the European Union, also together with the United States,
because I am ambassador here in Washington, and globally, will be able -- will be willing and able to play -- to play this important role we want to
AMANPOUR: And it couldn't be higher stakes.
Ambassador Philippe Etienne, thanks for joining us from Washington.
Now, the visit by the U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, and his secretary of -- and the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to Ukraine
delivered concrete promises and key aims. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: In terms of our -- their ability to win, the first step in winning is believing that you can win. And so
they believe that we can win. We believe that we can win -- they can win, if they have the right equipment, the right support.
And we're going to do everything we can continue to do everything we can to ensure that gets here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that was the -- the press conference after their visit, which happened on Sunday, and Austin says they discussed efforts with President
Zelenskyy that would enable them to win the current fight.
As that fight shifts to the south and east of Ukraine, reports from the city of Mariupol have been few and far between, thanks to the intense
bombardment it's faced throughout. Civilians have, of course, borne the brunt of all of this, forced to shelter in basements. Promises of
humanitarian corridors have repeatedly been broken.
Now, Alina Beskrovna, she was born and raised in the city of Mariupol. And she has spent a month under siege there, before she managed to escape
recently, where she is now safe and sound in Copenhagen, Denmark.
And she's joining us now.
Alina, welcome to the program. It is incredible that you managed to get out. People are in whatever way they possibly can, but it's super
difficult. Tell me what your life was like the minute you woke up and heard about the invasion and the bombardment started.
ALINA BESKROVNA, UKRAINIAN WHO FLED MARIUPOL: Thank you, Christiane, so much for having me and enabling me to share my story.
Yes, the experiences I have gone through are just incomprehensible. We woke up from a large blast on the morning of January -- February 24. And I went
on Facebook, and I scrolled down my news feed, hoping it was a nightmare, but it wasn't, and the actual war has started.
So we spent almost exactly one month in the basement with no electricity, no gas, no water, cooking on open fire, sheltering in place for days on end
during active shelling, digging out trenches to bury the dead, just trying to survive.
AMANPOUR: I mean, we're looking at pictures that you have -- you have sent to us. And we can see the under -- underground life that you lived for that
period of time.
Who were you with there? Who was sheltering with you?
BESKROVNA: So, we left from the apartment where we lived with my mom to join my family friend on the other side of town.
And the reason was because they had a proper basement. By that, I mean you could stand up, and it was dry. And it was 32 people, people who lived in
that building and relatives and friends who were joining, after intense shelling, after losing their apartments, after not being able to stay in
At the height of it all, we had 32 people sheltering with us, including six children.
AMANPOUR: And, Alina, what was your greatest fear? Did you fear being killed in that basement by the bombardments or the building collapse? What
was your greatest fear throughout that period?
BESKROVNA: I -- surprisingly, I reached this point where I didn't really care if I made it alive or not in about 10 days' worth of time, which is
something I did not expect of myself.
My biggest fear was having my mom and my dad be left there by themselves without me. But, for myself, personally, my biggest fear was being raped by
the Kadyrov Chechens, who we knew were in town already.
AMANPOUR: So there were forces that had come from Chechnya that had a pretty fearsome reputation?
BESKROVNA: Yes, exactly. We knew we knew it was Chechen forces roaming downtown, by the time we were getting out on March 23, and we knew it was
specifically Kadyrov Chechens by the way they behaved.
They came from the Second Chechen War to Mariupol.
AMANPOUR: And you mentioned Kadyrov. He is the Chechen leader that Putin installed after the end of that -- of that second war.
Now, how did you decide and why did you decide at that point to get out? There were no corridors of note at that time and it was really difficult to
BESKROVNA: Yes, there were corridors to speak of. There was no such thing as a green corridor, a humanitarian corridor ever. You have to take the
chances. The problem was those who did not leave in the first two days were basically stuck because the city was besieged with active fighting going on
all around the city.
So, what we did was we just sheltered in place, tried to survive for almost a month and then, we were listening to rumors of people trying to escape to
Berdyansk and then Zaporizhzhia. And as soon as we heard that it was possible, we took a chance.
AMANPOUR: And how? How did you take that chance? I mean, when the Russians sort of -- what was the physical situation? Were they still advancing on
the ground? What were you able to do?
BESKROVNA: Yes. The Russians were still advancing on the ground, but our part of town has not been taken yet. We had the (INAUDIBLE) forces nearby.
What we did was we packed six people and four cats in one vehicle that still had fuel and could be driven and we drove out at our own risk through
two Ukrainian checkpoints and 16 Russian checkpoints on our way to Zaporizhzhia.
AMANPOUR: And what was it like? I mean, I presume it was easy getting through the Ukrainian checkpoints, but 16 Russian checkpoints, was there
any moment that you felt scared that they would not let you through?
BESKROVNA: Oh, I was terrified all the time just because it was the first time I saw with my own eyes the white Z's (ph) on the uniforms, on the
vehicles. They were, you know, stripping men naked, checking for tattoos, checking for signs of army belts on their shoulders, you know, going
through trunks, questioning. They looked at my finger and asked me if I was a sniper because I had calluses from cooking over an open fire and not
being able to take a shower for a month. Very condescending. Very threatening. It was horrible. Worst nightmare.
AMANPOUR: But you did get through. And as you say, with your three cats, and I think your mother got out as well. But you haven't yet heard from
BESKROVNA: Yes. My mom and me and three cats made it safely to Copenhagen. From what I know, my dad is alive, it looks like it. I've heard rumors from
neighbors of neighbors of neighbors who are trying to get out. But I do know that he is still stuck in Mariupol on the Russian -controlled zone.
So, what that entails for him, I have no idea. And I do not know if he's, you know, starving at this very moment, if he is sick, if he's dead by now.
I have no idea.
AMANPOUR: That must be just really, really too painful. Can I just ask you, you know, studied and then, you decided to come back to Mariupol,
right, to work in Mariupol? That was your home city. Did you ever imagined that this could ever happen to you in 2020? I mean, you knew what had
happened in 2014, you know, they had taken parts of the east, they had taken Crimea. Did you ever think you were a threat in the seaside city of
BESKROVNA: So, we knew that Putin was not properly stopped in 2014. So, the land grab and, you know, the killing of Ukrainians will probably
continue. But we never put two and two together. And that is why I moved back. You know, I got my MBA in finance from Lehigh, in Pennsylvania, in
the U.S. I was making, you know, a decent money. But I willingly decided to come back to Mariupol because it was this booming city within a credible
I.T. crowd, and this was the place to be right before the war. That's why I came back. Never in my wildest dreams would I thought that it would unfold
AMANPOUR: And you have some very, very stark -- I'm going to just use the word, souvenirs. A very grim wartime souvenir that you brought out with you
to remind you. It is some shrapnel, right?
BESKROVNA: Yes. I have two pieces right here. This one is a shrapnel. It was designed to kill everyone who was in the square that the Russians
determined for killing, whatever civilians were out on the street. It just bursts into millions of tiny metal pieces and it just goes through your
body and you're done. For some reason, this one did not explode. I don't know why. I picked it up in front of the basement we were sheltering in on
the morning of March 8th.
And I have another piece right here, this is a piece of Grad rocket that the Russians use on civilian buildings. This one got stuck and exploded
behind the building we were sheltering. And I found this piece about 10 meters away from the place of explosion. So, you can imagine the damage.
AMANPOUR: We really can and we watched with horror what's going on. We're just very relieved that you're out and that you are able to share your
story. Good luck to you, Alina. Alina Beskrovna joining us from safety, at least, in Copenhagen.
And next, in his latest investigation, the journalist Ronan Farrow has dug into the commercial spyware industry and its implications for democracies
around the world. And he tells Hari Sreenivasan what he found.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Ronan Farrow, thanks again for joining us.
The center of the story is a piece of spyware, and when people start to think about spyware and internet and how to get it, I mean, just to break
it down for us, how does this work?
RONAN FARROW, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AND CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, it varies. You know, the technology that's at the heart of
this latest chunk of reporting is called Pegasus. It's made by an Israeli company, NSO Group. And it is designed to, first of all, crack open your
phone's hard drive. It will image everything on your phone. That means your personal texts, you're e-mails, your scheduling information.
It also can operate in terms of real-time surveillance. So, it can turn your microphone while you're in a confidential meeting, it can turn your
camera and photograph or take video of what you're doing without you knowing.
So, essentially, it turns every phone in every pocket into a spy. And I want to point out, that this isn't just one piece of software that's
magical in some way, this is a $12 billion industry that is devoted to cracking either phones or computers. We are really living in
technologically a post privacy age. If someone wants to put the resources into monitoring what you're doing through your phone, they can.
And to your question, you know, does it require clicking links, it varies. This is a malware that can be installed on your device and that can either
happen through a link that arrives and it might be really subtle. It might be something that looks like it comes from a contact that's already in your
phone even and the link might be completely disguised, you might not know when you're infected that way.
But also, just being careful about what you click is no protection because there are zero click versions of this. There are ways that these can be
installed just through a, for instance, missed WhatsApp call, is one example of an exploit that's chronicled in this story.
SREENIVASAN: So, when you say WhatsApp, you know, one of the things that iMessages and WhatsApp sort of brags about is that they are encrypted, that
there's essentially a lock and key system between you and I when we talk. But you're saying that this type of software can get around that or through
FARROW: Yes. I mean, this software circumvents the untinged encryption of any individual messaging platform because it operates by grabbing control
of your entire phone. There are other competitors in the spyware industry, like technology made by the firm Paragon, is another emerging competitor,
that directly targets cracking the untinged encryption you're talking about within iMessage, within Cignal, for instance or Telegram.
You know, this is now easy technology to crack. Again, if the resources are brought to bear to do it. And one of the things I dug into in this story is
spending time with the secretive security teams within Facebook, within Apple, and chronicling a sea change in the last few years where companies
have gone from sort of hiding their vulnerabilities in this respect to being openly on the offensive about it, to bringing lawsuits against some
of the parties like NSO Group, this Israeli software company I mentioned that are in the business of cracking their platforms.
And, you know, for first time to talking to journalists like me about what it takes to engage in a daily cat and mouse scam to stay ahead of these
SREENIVASAN: So, who is the software used on? Who are the targets here?
FARROW: Well, it varies because there are a lot of players in this industry. There are rogue hackers who will sell to anyone and, you know,
selling to anyone means it could be used against anyone. There are, you know, totally unregulated companies that operate out of regulation havens
like, you know, such as Cyprus or Luxembourg, and that therefore, we can't even really see what they're doing.
And then, there are these big players like the NSO Group, they like to highlight that they are ostensibly more regulated. The Israeli government
signs off on their sales to foreign governments. And one of the things that they say in their defense is, we sell only to law enforcement and
intelligence agencies. And they like to highlight that a lot of those customer countries are Western European democracies. But one of the things
I report on in this piece is that Western European can abuse this technology as well.
SREENIVASAN: So, does the United States, for example, in this story you say that we have both been kind of users and victims of software like this.
FARROW: So, one of the things that I dig into in this story is I think there's been a common perception that this is a problem of the developing
world or a problem that is limited too repressive regimes. There's been a lot of coverage about how cyber offensive capabilities has been used
against dissidents and journalists under, for instance, the Saudi regime.
But more and more we are seeing western democracies use this technology. A big chunk of piece is about a new cluster of infections from a couple years
ago but newly documented, that is, you know, targeting journalists and civil society members and politicians in the Catalonia autonomous region of
Spain. You know, it seems just as a result of peaceful political demonstration that they have done.
In the United States, we've had a complicated relationship with this technology. There are government agencies in the Department of Justice, in
the Pentagon, that have purchased this kind of spyware tech. I'm not saying Pegasus specifically. Pegasus specifically was purchase and tested by the
FBI. Not used against the American people, they say. Just purchased for testing reasons.
But, you know, we've sort of have danced with wanting this capacity to supplement our own in-house surveillance tech. And then, on the other hand,
realizing increasingly that's being used against Americans. NSO Group, the makers of Pegasus, says that they do not target U.S. numbers. But that's no
great protection because there's been evidence that there's a lot of U.S. diplomats that have been targeted on their local numbers as they're working
at embassies abroad. There was a cluster of infections, for instance, at our embassy in Uganda.
So, this is something that, you know, I think we are starting to realize, officials from every country needs to worry about.
SREENIVASAN: You had access in your reporting over the past couple years to some of the employees that are making this software. I mean, how do they
feel about this? Do they understand how their tools are being abused? Where there any points where they said, that is, this is a line that's crossed. I
don't want any part of this anymore?
FARROW: Well, as you might imagine, the current employees tell a very different story. They buy into the company's narrative that NSO Group is
predominantly making tools for law enforcement and that those tools are integral in cracking into terrorist and criminal groups.
And it is true that I talked to officials in European democracies who said, well, we use this tech, sometimes secretly, to catch criminals. And it's
useful for that. But, of course, that doesn't mean the tech can't be abused. And I also spoke to former employees of the NSO Group who were
involved in either making or selling Pegasus who said, well, I quit -- you know, one told me, I quit after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by the Saudi
regime and it emerged that Pegasus have been used to target people around him.
You can look at the story for, you know, the various denials the NSO Group offers as to why, you know, they believe they weren't linked to this. But
it certainly troubled a large number of employees at that company.
SREENIVASAN: University of London, I think, a research group linked to the Pegasus software to 300 different acts of violence. Give me some examples
besides the murder of Jamal Khashoggi about how has this been used inappropriately.
FARROW: This has been used, certainly, if you buy the research of a number of very credible watchdog groups against journalists and dissidents and
opposition politicians in just about every corner of the war old at this point. You know, I just mentioned the western European example of Catalonia
and separatists' politicians. You know, we've seen it in African countries, in Middle Eastern countries, used against people like, you know, at Saudi,
women's rights activists.
We have seen it used in Mexico. And there are several lawsuits related to the misuse of this tech in Mexico now. It showed up on phones around the
slain journalist, Javier Valdez, who was investigating cartels. So, you know, this does seem to be a pattern.
Now, every case is different. And, for instance, in the Valdez case, you know, I spoke to people inside NSO Group who said, well, there was a law
enforcement investigation into his murder and that is why there were infections of people around him.
So, you know, it's important, obviously, to err those kinds of defenses and to look closely at each case. But it does seem like the preponderance of
evidence now suggests that in literally hundreds of cases, there have been misuses of this technology that are violent in nature, that, you know,
either facilitated or were closely connected to acts of violence.
SREENIVASAN: What are these big tech companies doing? Because part of the bargain that they make with us, the end user, is that our communications
are safe, more private, but here you are describing a technology that can get right through that.
FARROW: Well, these companies have sizeable security teams that they are continuing to beef up. And they engage in -- you know, if I use the term
cat and mouse game, because that's how programmers on both sides of this fight describe it, you know, a back and forth where essentially, they and
hackers around the world are popping out from behind pieces of digital cover and exchanging sniper fire, you know, with the hackers trying to
infiltrate these platforms, and find new and exotic exploits every single day and the teams within these technology platforms working around the
clock to try to plug up these breaches as they arise and, you know, this is one reason why it's important to keep your phones patched every single day.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. Are they taking them to court?
FARROW: Yes. So, another big development, and part of this kind of sea change in the posture of big tech on this issue is, where once companies
like Apple were very secretive about any breaches they had encounter, they are now going to court and describing these exploits in detailed legal
You know, they offer willingly on the record voices from within these guarded security teams to talk about the saga of what happens when one of
these breaches arises. So, it's very interesting new window that we have in this reporting into what these teams do. And we are seeing the real-world
results in these lawsuits, it's not just Apple, WhatsApp, you know, obviously, now owned by Meta, is also in a hope high-profile legal battle
with NSO Group.
Thus far, NSO's arguments, which are, you know, various, but one of the big ones is that they enjoy the sovereign immunity of the countries that they
work with. So, you shouldn't be able to sue them in U.S. court. Thus far, those arguments have not succeeded in American courts.
SREENIVASAN: So, what has that pressure done to companies like the NSO Group and others? Are the U.S. administration -- are we able to put any
pressure on them either from a commerce or intelligence perspective?
FARROW: Well, the U.S. commerce department last fall blacklisted NSO Group and a couple of other spyware vendors. Candiru is another spyware maker
that I talk about in this piece. And they, therefore, are now prevented from legally purchasing U.S. technology. Things like iPhone or Windows
operating systems, without a special waiver. And the Commerce Department has set very clearly that their default position will be to say no to
requests for that kind of a waiver.
So, this is a significant inconvenience in both the day-to-day business operations of a number of these firms, like NSO, and in their quest for
greater legitimacy. You know, NSO Group argues repeatedly that it is essentially an arms dealer. You know, this is the most sort of detailed
picture they have given of their arguments in this story. And they say, look, this is a wild west of an industry that is unregulated to a large
extent. But it should be regulated. You know, there should be equivalence to the Geneva Convention. There should be an equivalence to various
treaties governing the use nuclear or chemical weapons.
There aren't right now. So, we're flying by blind trying to put in place our own protections. Now, of course, the pivotal question is, how much do
you buy the legitimacy of those self-protections they are putting in place?
SREENIVASAN: What is the role of the country that they are sitting in, in this case Israel, in allowing this to continue? Because this is -- the
software industry is clearly something that Israel is proud of.
FARROW: You know, they are the leader in this kind of tech. And I think one thing that has allowed this tech to flourish through several years of
scandal about abusive misuse of it, is that policy makers said, well, these are companies that are closely entwined with the Israeli government. The
Israeli Ministry of Defense oversees the purchases, they approve the countries to whom NSO Group, for instance, is selling.
So, it lent to the proceedings an heir of legitimacy. But, you know, I talked to a lot of people both within the Israeli intelligence circles and
within the private spyware industry who said, the Israeli government on this front has not been putting in place guardrails, you know, that they
have been relentlessly real politic in making sure that this tech gets to whomever they want it to get to, to curry favor geopolitically, and not
really considering the human rights consequences.
So, I think the world is now awakening to the fact that there needs to be stricter regulation, that the international community needs to step up.
There is a "Washington Post" editorial board comment, you know, citing this reporting and saying, hey, it's time for countries to step up. The Biden
administration in this piece announces its most muscular step yet. The White House says, we plan to ban the U.S. government from purchasing this
kind of tech in the future.
So, you know, it is a fast-moving field. But right now, you know, this company is correct. It is something of a wild west and there is a lack of
SREENIVASAN: So, the global politics and the stances of Israel would also be reflected who this software appeals to. I mean, this -- or available.
You pointed out that basically they were not allowed to sell the software to Ukraine because of, well, who Ukraine is fighting right now, which is
FARROW: It is important to understand now that this is a tool of soft power, apart from anything else. You know, it is used in the same way that
world powers use building roads, or digging wells. And in all kinds of geopolitical relationships, you see, you know, one state helping another
state get this kind of cyber offensive capability.
So, I will give you an example. It has been reported by "The Times" and others in recent months that the United States CIA helped Djibouti, a
military ally of United States, purchase Pegasus. And we report in this piece for the first time that that account, that Pegasus software that was
used by Djibouti was actually used against its own prime minister and other civilian officials. So, you know, you see how quickly this is sort of a
genie that you can't put back in the bottle.
SREENIVASAN: It almost seems like this is an industry that is a proxy, if you will. So, say even if the Biden administration says that no U.S.
government agency is allowed to buy this, well, it doesn't stop private companies in the United States being able to buy it, right? And then -- or
in the case of Israel, if Mossad can't help a country out, couldn't they just say, well, why don't you just go down the street here. We know these
guys have some software that can do what you're asking?
FARROW: And essentially, that's what has happened, according to Israeli intelligence officials I spoke to, that there were cases where, you know,
for instance, a European country would come to an Israeli government intelligence entity and say, we want your technological assistance, and
they would say no. But, you know, some Israeli government or military entity would -- you know, the Mossad, for instance, is one that has been
closely tied to NCO Group, would say, well, go to these private guys, they can give you this technological capacity.
So, that is exactly what's happening. We, in the case of NSO Group, have to rely on their assurance that they are only selling to governments they
claim that they put in place more and more robust vetting about what government those are. Watchdog groups are skeptical, as we have discussed.
But, you know, I think what is most important to note here is this isn't about one rogue company, this isn't about one form of technology, this is
about an industry that is growing and growing.
And lots of players on the fringe of that industry that aren't subject to any kind of oversight. And, you know, NSO Group points out correctly, if
they go away, if Pegasus goes away, there is plenty of others that will fill that vacuum and indeed (INAUDIBLE).
SREENIVASAN: The article is called "How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens," by Ronan Farrow. Ronan, thanks so much for joining us.
FARROW: Thanks so much. Always a pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, given Ukraine's position that it has had to assume as the battlefield for liberal democracy and the rules-based order, I asked
the former French president, Francois Hollande, today, how best to achieve that. He was president when Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 and he was
closely involved in negotiations with Putin. Take a listen to what he told me the West needs to do now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Putin only understand force and he has military force on his side and so,
obviously, can control that, he will go through to the logical end.
But if Ukraine in arms are capable of inflicting big losses, he might actually come back on that position. So, what we have to do is to supply
arms, military equipment, that seems to me the right way for negotiations afterwards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That, as we mentioned, the same time as the U.S. defense secretary says they want to provide Ukraine with the capability to "win
this battle," possibly laying the groundwork for a real negotiation. And you could watch my full conversation with the former French president on
our program on Thursday.
But that's it for us now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks for watching and goodbye from