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Interview With Richardson Center For Global Engagement President And Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; Interview With Daughter Of Detained American In Iran Morad Tahbaz Tara Tahbaz; Interview With "The Wealth Of Refugees" Author, University Of Oxford Professor Of Forced Migration And Internal Affairs And University Of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre Director Alexander Betts; Interview With Massachusetts General Hospital Obesity Medicine Physician And Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 13, 2023 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.
Iran claims a deal is on the table to free jailed American citizens, but the U.S. calls it a cruel lie. After our extraordinary interview inside
Evin Prison with Siamak Namazi, I now speak to Tara Tahbaz whose father, Morad, is also there. And former ambassador Bill Richardson who lobbies for
Americans imprisoned abroad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER BETTS, AUTHOR, "THE WEALTH OF REFUGEES", PROFESSOR OF FORCED MIGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, AND DIRECTOR,
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD REFUGEE STUDIES CENTRE: There's been no easy answers. It's been tough to get the balance right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: BBC scrambles to say face in a row over impartiality. But was sports commentator Gary Lineker wrong about the issue of Britain's refugee
policy? My conversation with migration expert, Oxford University professor Alexander Betts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. FATIMA CODY STANFORD, OBESITY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL AND HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL PROFESSOR: These medications have
gotten so much attention that they are changing what we think about this disease.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Hari Sreenivasan talks to Dr. Fatima Stanford about obesity in the United States and the impact of a breakthrough weight loss drug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE YEOH, ACTRESS: Ladies, don't let anybody tell you, you are ever you're your prime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: "Everything Everywhere All at Once" cleans up at the Oscars. And Michelle Yeoh breaks ground as the first Asian woman to win the award for
best actress. We revisit our interview with her.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The families of Americans imprisoned in Iran are being buffeted by a, sort of, psychological warfare between adversarial states. Over the weekend,
Iran's foreign minister said, a prisoner swap agreement between his country and the United States has been broken. And now, the ball is in their court.
But Washington quickly quashed that. The state department's, Ned Price, told CNN, "A -- it's a cruel lie that only adds to the suffering of their
Now, this follows the heartbreaking appeal made by the Iranian American Siamak Namazi when I spoke to him inside Evin Prison last week. He spent
seven and a half years there, repeatedly left behind in other prisoner swap deals between the two countries. Two other Americans are also imprisoned
alongside Siamak, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz. They call themselves hostages, and that they are pawns caught up in the decadeslong standoff
between Tehran and Washington.
Just ahead, we will hear from one of their daughters. But first, my next guest has made it his mission to try to help. Bill Richardson has been an
American cabinet secretary, he's been ambassador to the U.N., and the former governor of New Mexico. A long-time interlocutor with regimes like
Russia, North Korea, and more to secure the release of America captives. And he's joining me now from Albuquerque.
Governor, welcome back to our program. It's a long time since we've spoken. And I just want to get your opinion, based on your experience, these
dueling narratives and claims now about any kind of a deal to get the remaining Americans in Iranian prison released and returned.
BILL RICHARDSON, PRESIDENT, RICHARDSON CENTER FOR GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT AND FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: Well, what my role is, is we work for the
families, like the Shargi family and other that are parents or families of wrongfully detained people. I am not the lead negotiator, I'm not a
negotiator, but I've talked to both sides, the Iranians and our very capable Iran envoy, Rob Malley.
There are very serious negotiations going on, but I agree with the administration view, there is no deal at this time, but they are meeting
intensively. And the victims here are these three Americans that are suffering, that are wrongfully detained, that are being used as political
pawns. And this has happened in Russia, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea. It's a pattern, it's a new hostage diplomacy that we have to start confronting.
And this president, I believe, has done a good job so far.
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm going to get that later about how one does start confronting, you know, more on a global issue. But can I just then put to
you this rather heartbreaking plea that Siamak Namazi asked me to be able to direct to the president himself via the media, via us, this is what he
said on Thursday to us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIAMAK NAMAZI, PRISONER, EVIN PRISON: President Biden, I certainly hear and I sincerely appreciate your administration's repeated declarations
about freeing the American hostages in Iran is its top priority. But I remain deeply worried that the White House just does not appreciate how
dire our situation has become. It's also very hurtful and upsetting that after 25 months in office, you have not found the time to meet with our
If just give them some words of assurance. Sir, Morad, Emad, and I, have now collectively languished here for 18 years. Our lives and families have
been utterly devastated. We desperately, desperately need you to finally conclude that we've suffered long enough as Iran's hostages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You can hear the emotion. A man who has been unjustly held in an Iranian prison for seven and a half years, plus the other two. So, I want
to ask you, based again on your experience with other such cases and lobbying for families, you know, do you think that the president could and
should, as a matter of just comfort and commitment, meet with the Namazi family, the Tahbaz family, the, you know, Shargi family?
RICHARDSON: Yes, the president should meet with them, and the president in the past with Trevor Reed, and the Griner's case, and other families has
met with them. I think the president should meet with them. I think it's the responsibility of every president to try to get American hostages'
home, regardless. And usually, if it's a prisoner exchange or it's some kind of deal, it's a worthy to do, even though it may be unseemly.
So yes, I think the president should meet with them. And I would support the president if he makes a negotiated deal with the Iranians. I think it's
our responsibility to bring these three home, they've suffered enough. Their families have suffered. We represent -- we work very closely with one
of the families, the Shargi family. I think it's important that it happen. But so far, I think if you look at the record on Venezuela, on Russia, the
president does meet with these families, he should do that.
AMANPOUR: So, why do you think he hasn't governor?
RICHARDSON: He should do that too. They deserve to be heard.
AMANPOUR: They -- they're appealing for that desperately.
RICHARDSON: Well --
AMANPOUR: Why do you think, in this case, is Iran, particularly now, super sensitive in some way? Is the case in Iran something that's unpalatable for
RICHARDSON: No, no. I think -- here is two issues. One, I think the president may be waiting, and I am not the negotiator, for some kind of
framework of a deal to happen. So, he's waiting for that. That hasn't happened yet. And I think what might happen is a meeting where a framework
is close. He should meet with them regardless, these are wonderful Americans, and they are Americans. And many that I have dealt with around
the world, they're American veterans and they are wrongfully detained. And there may be 70 around the world.
So, he should -- I think it's the duty of every president to do that. They don't always listen to me, but yes, and I think your interview shows the
pain that many of these Americans have and they want hope. And it's the president that can make this happen.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, you've said correctly that presidents, you know -- and we're just talking about Iran now. Presidents from, I guess, Ronald
Reagan have made these deals to get Americans back, whether they are the American hostages in the embassy over the revolution, whether they were the
ones held in Lebanon, whether there are several prisoner swaps that have happened. And none -- certainly, Siamak has not been released, and in the
last few years, nor has Tahbas and Shargi.
So, do you think the president can persuade, you know, the usual suspects who would disagree, you know, whether it's the conservatives in Congress,
whether it's the conservative media. Do you think that he can sell this proposal to make a deal with Iran for American citizens?
RICHARDSON: Well, as I understand it, and I'm -- I've talked to both sides. I think that what is involved here is not necessarily prisoner
exchange. But I'm not going to go into the details of the other issues.
RICHARDSON: So, is it deal doable? Yes. Is it possible? Yes. Is it going to be soon? I believe so, I'm an optimist.
RICHARDSON: The Griner deal was a swap with a man named Bout, who was a horrendous person.
RICHARDSON: It may not be a good deal that will please everybody, conservatives, Republicans, whatever. But I think it's the solemn duty of
the president to do everything he or she can to bring Americans home. And I am optimistic. But I don't have the details. We should be very circumspect.
Look, the relationship with Iran is not good. We have a nuclear treaty that probably is in shambles, but that doesn't mean that on humanitarian issues,
on issues relating to prisoners, Americans wrongfully detained, that the president shouldn't make a deal.
RICHARDSON: And it's probably not going to be popular, but I will support him. And I think many will support him, as they did with the Griner deal,
with a Trevor Reed, with Venezuelans. The president is an empathetic guy. He's good at these meetings with families. He should do that.
AMANPOUR: So, you're going to recommend to him.
RICHARDSON: He should do that soon, that would --
AMANPOUR: You could pick up the phone and suggest it.
RICHARDSON: Well, they don't always listen to me.
AMANPOUR: All right.
RICHARDSON: I mean, I don't work for them.
AMANPOUR: I know.
RICHARDSON: I have a foundation. I work for the families.
AMANPOUR: I know.
RICHARDSON: You know, they -- so I hope he does --
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you this --
RICHARDSON: -- at the very least and I think if there is a deal -- yes.
You're saying that he could sell it and of course they have done it in the past, many Americans have been freed, having been held by Iran often in
order to get their own money back. It appears that this deal, brokered by Qatar, is about giving Iran the money that South Korea should have paid,
and actually not going straight to Iran but in an Escrow account used to humanitarian purchases. South Korea got oil worth some $7 billion, and Iran
wants the money back. And it appears Qatar has figure out something from the Iranian side that seems acceptable, and next it has to go to the U.S.
but so far deems it not acceptable.
So, let's play devils' advocate for a moment. Because there is a whole, sort of, global notion. Any kind of deal to get anybody back, does it not
risk encouraging the same countries, other countries to do that. Is there a way to get some kind of global -- I don't know, treaty on this kind of
issue so that these issues are dealt with in partnership?
RICHARDSON: Well, I think the first thing we should do is we should publicly announce that any country that wrongfully detains Americans is
going to get sanctioned immediately, not just individual people, but industries, et cetera, that's one. Number two, as unpleasant as it is, it
should be the foreign policy duty of our country, especially if it involves American veterans, especially if they are wrongfully detained, or the three
in Iran, for us to do whatever it takes to bring them back. It could be unpopular. It could be a bad person in a prisoner exchange.
But in this case, I am not going to go into details. One of the problems is that Iran and the United States don't talk to each other. So, we have to do
it through intermediaries and that has been a problem. But progress is being made, and our government is trying very hard to get them out. But at
the very least, meet with them, feel the pain of the parents, of the families, and find a way to make this happen. I will support the president
no matter what the deal is but --
AMANPOUR: Yes, let me just finally ask you.
RICHARDSON: -- I think we all should.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Certainly, the families do believe that, obviously. And there's so much precedent, as you said, including for Brittney Griner, who,
let's face it, was -- you know, released in an exchange during a period where the United States is, in a way, you know, certainly, adversarial with
Russia who was holding her.
Anyway, I want to ask you in terms of American foreign policy, what you make and should United States be concerned of China now acting as a peace
broker, if you like, certainly, between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This has really set a lot of the foreign policy establishment, you know, on its --
you know, steam is coming out of their ears because it's so extraordinary that A, China would do this. And B, cut out the Americans. And C, between
two such strong adversaries in that region.
RICHARDSON: Well, it is a significant development. But is it a tectonic shift? I don't think so. And I think we have to have a vision and a
strategy to deal with it. Here's the way I see it, number one, Russia is moving with China into an anti-U.S. Europe access, I think that is what is
Number two, the Saudis, when I was energy secretary, they were steadfast allies, I'm not sure they are anymore. They are playing all sides, mainly
with the eastern bloc, with Russia and China. I think Iran has gotten some cover in the region by this arrangement. And China is a geopolitical
So, what do we have to do? First, we don't panic. When you exchange relations, diplomatic relations, it doesn't mean that Iran and Saudi Arabia
are immediately friends. There are still a lot of grievances with each other, but we've got to adapt to this. And my answer is engagement,
dialogue, talk to bad people. You know, I've done it all my life, not that it's always worked.
RICHARDSON: But you got to have a dialogue. You have an engagement. You can't just say, oh, this is terrible. What are we going to do? No. Let's
deal with it.
AMANPOUR: All right.
RICHARDSON: Let's have a strategy. Let's have a vision. It is significant.
AMANPOUR: All right. Governor Richardson, thank you so much indeed for joining us. Really important conversation there.
And now, let's turn to one of the prisoners in Iran. In 2019, Morad Tahbaz, an environmental conservationist, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for
cooperating with a hostile government, that government being the United States of which he is a citizen. And despite the Biden administration
saying it is, "Working tirelessly to secure the release of her father and other detainees," Tara Tahbaz says, that she and the other family members
have not been able to meet with President Biden so far on this issue, as we've just been discussing with the governor.
Tara is now joining me live from Connecticut. So, Tara, you just heard what governor Bill Richardson says. And he holds a very important position, not
an official position, but he's walked the walk for many other families on the past. And as -- he said he is working with one of the families -- one
of your families right now. What did you make of what he said about the key issue of meeting the president?
TARA TAHBAZ, DAUGHTER OF MORAD TAHBAZ, DETAINED AMERICAN IN IRAN: First and foremost, I would like to thank you so much for having me today and for
all of your continued support for our families. It means so much to us.
Everything that he said, it meant so much to us to have that support and we couldn't be more aligned with him, you know. Definitely, we need the
congressional support across the board, and we need all the American people to support us because ultimately, President Biden will have the power to
make the final decision that will bring our -- my parents home, Siamak Namazi home, Emad Shargi home. And we just need everybody to stand with our
families in supporting him and make that difficult but necessary decision.
AMANPOUR: You said something quite pointed the other day after the interview. And when the lawyer and you, members of the family, held a press
conference. And you referred to Brittney Griner, and her release and how she was treated, and how -- rather and her family was treated compared to
you by the White House. What were you saying?
TAHBAZ: You know, I think the administration from day one has stated that our loved ones are a priority to come home, and now they have been in
office for 25 months, yet our three families have not been able to speak to even speak to president for five minutes. And while my father, my mother,
Siamak, Emad are not celebrities or high profiled citizens, we should be afforded the same fortitude that was applied for Brittney Griner. And the
opportunity that her family received to be able to tell their plight firsthand to the president, and really just share our pain, our fear, and
biding (ph) him to do whatever is needed to bring them home.
At the end of the day, they're innocent Americans, and they are there because they are Americans. So, they should be afforded the protection from
their country and to have anything and everything done to bring them home and for them to be reunited with their families.
AMANPOUR: How long is it since you have not seen your parents? And I know your mother is not detained but she is not free to leave Iran at the
moment. How long since you've seen them?
TAHBAZ: So, I was actually with them in Iran in November of 2017. And upon leaving was when my father's travel ban began, but I had to come back home
to start a new job. And it was January 10th of 2018 that my father was detained, and then at that time my mother was put on a travel ban. So, I
haven't seen either of them since I left the country.
AMANPOUR: So, it's around six years or so since then.
AMANPOUR: Tell us about your father. We described him as a, you know, an environmentalist, a conservationist. Give us some details about him and
also how he's doing.
TAHBAZ: Yes, of course. So, my father, his whole life from a young age, has been very passionate about environment and environmental conservation
and wildlife preservation, which led him to found the Persian Wildlife Heritage -- co-found the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.
But my father is an amazing person. He is so calm, so kind, so generous, so noble. He will move mountains to protect the people that he cares about. He
is an amazing father, that goes without saying. And I think just how my siblings and I have been able to carry ourselves through this surreal
nightmare is just a testament to him and my mother and everything they have instilled in us and who they are.
AMANPOUR: Tara, can I ask you a slightly tricky question? As you know, there are thousands of Iranian women, children, men who have been rounded
up in the latest crackdown on civil rights, human rights in that country. We now hear that some 22,000 more have been given a pardon from jail. But
nonetheless, they -- most of them don't -- also, don't have access. They don't have access to the press. They don't have access to lawyers. They
don't have, you know, proper trials, et cetera.
And I wonder whether you feel that your caught between, you know -- I don't know, Iranian exiles or others who don't want this government as it's
cracking down on human rights to get any kind of deal or any kind of money even if it's their own money that's going to go into Escrow or somewhere
TAHBAZ: I think at the end of the day, they are American so they belong here. They are only there because they're innocent Americans and it's
heartbreaking to see everything that is happening there. And I think that that just speaks more to the urgency that, as Americans, that we need to
bring them back home here where they are safe and protected.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you another question. Because I have heard from people in your position that during the Trump administration, it was easier to get
to meet with the senior officials for families. What was your experience during the Trump administration? You remember the secretary of state made
quite a big Pompeo at the time, I think it was, that returning hostages, prisoners, captives was a top priority for the administration. Did they
engage with you any more or differently than the current administration?
TAHBAZ: Our family has been very grateful. Both to the national security council, as well as the state department in both administrations. They have
been very open with us and supported us, especially this administration. And but at the end of the day, while they are providing all these supports,
it's nearly six years and I am still without my parents and, you know, he was left behind from the previous administration. As well as by the U.K.
government when Liz Truss -- Foreign Minister Liz Truss struck a deal that brought home two other U.K. citizens and left my parents behind. And we saw
Siamak, he's been left behind by two previous administrations.
So, at the end of the day, I think this is speaking that much more to why we are trying to get to Biden and, ultimately, he is the one who will make
the decision to bring them home. So, we are so grateful for everybody in between who has been with us. But at the end of the day, Biden will make
the ultimate decision that brings them home. And we can't emphasize enough that we need to congressional support and all the American people to stand
with us, to help him make the difficult but necessary decisions to give our families back.
AMANPOUR: Tara Tahbaz, thank you very much, indeed, for talking to us. And you mentioned the British angle, because your father is also a citizen of
TAHBAZ: Of the U.K.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Thank you so much.
Next to refugees and the British government and BBC. The 100-year-old broadcaster with a sterling global reputation is trying to recover from
what's been described as a devastating own goal. The former England football star and host of "Match of the Day", Gary Lineker, is back on air
after being briefly suspended, when the BBC accused him of breaking their impartiality rules.
Lineker, a long-time supporter of refugees, writes, had criticized Britain's new and draconian policy to stop the crossing the channel.
Calling the governments' language and approach to asylum seekers reminiscent of 1930s Germany.
Migration is a hot button issue in many parts of the world. Just yesterday, at least eight people died after two smuggling boats capsized off San
Diego's shore. "The Wealth of Refugees" by the Oxford University professor Alexander Betts highlights how refugees have always added value to their
host countries. And he's joining me now live from Oxford.
Alexander Betts, welcome back to our program. We have talked many times over the years about this issue. So, can I just try to talk about the
policy rather than the politics of the tweet and all the furore (ph) over the last several days.
So, before we discuss the Lineker tweet, Suella Braverman, the current home secretary in charge of this new policy about trying to, you know, stop the
small boats coming across the English Channel says, there are 100 million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current
laws. They are coming here. Are those numbers from Braverman exaggerated? Are 100 million people around the world trying to come here now?
ALEXANDER BETTS, AUTHOR, "THE WEALTH OF REFUGEES", PROFESSOR OF FORCED MIGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, AND DIRECTOR,
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD REFUGEE STUDIES CENTRE: This is an enormous exaggeration. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, there are 100 million
displaced people around the world. And actually, only around a third of them, 32 million, are refugees. And of those refugees, over 80 percent are
in low and middle-income countries.
So, the idea that 100 million people are potentially all aspiring to come to the U.K. is a gross exaggeration and a misrepresentation. In reality,
last year the U.K. received about 45,000 people by boat across the English Channel, and received about 75,000 asylum applications. If we put that in
perspective across Europe, at least other countries in Europe received higher numbers of asylum applications, Germany, France, and Spain.
And again, if we put that in a global perspective, we can see countries around the world like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Uganda, Kenya. Some of the
poorest societies in the world with many multiples of the number of refugee and asylum seekers to come to the U.K. So, it's -- it really is an
exaggeration, quite a populist and irresponsible level.
AMANPOUR: So, then let's dissect the tweet on the policy aspects of it. Gary Lineker's tweet started with questioning the idea by the government
that there is a massive influx into this country by the channel or wherever. And he said something similar to what you've just said, we take
far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
So, you know, you just mentioned the E.U., they reported 330,000 irregular border crossings last year, well above the number you quoted, some 47,000
coming to the U.K. So, he is right on the policy that there is no massive influx into this country.
BETTS: So, I think we need a bit of balance. We need to recognize that the numbers crossing the English Channel are rising. We need to recognize that
the U.K. has received more asylum applications than any point in the last 20 years. But we also need to get a sense of perspective, that the reasons
for these numbers rising are wherein a more fractured global world. We have more people facing war, persecution, and in fragile states who need to
cross borders as a last resort to access the most fundamental human rights.
And most are not coming to the U.K. Those coming to Europe are going to other parts of Europe. Last year, there were about 550,000 asylum
applications across Europe. Maybe 5 million Ukrainians receive access to temporary protection in the European Union. And the U.K. was very generous
in offering about 160,000 places to Ukrainians through its homes for Ukraine scheme. But 160, 000, compared to that overall number of some 5
million, means doing our bit is very much what we are doing, but we are not disproportionately taking large numbers of refugees.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's a huge discrepancy. 160,000 versus 5 million. So, we'll just park that for a moment and digest that. Then I want to ask you
about the other thing that got a lot of the government and its acolytes and the press upset, and that was Gary Lineker's description of this policy.
This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people.
So, what is the policy is it? I mean, we've heard of Rwanda, we've heard of them being sent back to country of origin, if that's what it takes. What is
the cruelty here?
BETTS: Well, he began by also discussing the language. And aspects of the language talked about the patriotic majority, and contrast to that with
exaggerated claims of the threat to taxpayers, the threat to national security, and the large numbers.
But what does the policy itself imply? It implies that people who cross the English Channel will immediately be liable to detention, and that they
won't have access to bail or judicial review. But they'll be confined to detention centers. And they won't be admissible to have their asylum claim
assessed even if they are refugees coming from war torn societies, but will face immediate removal either to their country of origin or a third country
that might be one that they've never been to and might be one in a different part of the world such as Rwanda.
So, this policy, this bill, if it is enacted, and there's quite significant doubt that it will be enacted, it faces being questions in the courts, and
there are questions about how implementable it is in practice given the lack of third country agreements for removal.
BETTS: But even if it was enacted, the historical significance is effectively a liberal democratic state abandoning the principle of the
right to asylum. It abandons the principle that universally, anyone seeking sanctuary can come to the U.K. or another country, and say, I am a refugee.
I would like a fair hearing to assess my claim.
AMANPOUR: Even the home secretary herself, Suella Braverman, has suggested that this plan may not work. She has said, more than 50 percent
possibility, the U.K. would breach its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, and the U.N. refugee agency also has condemned
these plans. So, from your perspective, is it illegal?
BETTS: So, I think, it's interesting when you open up the bill, on the first page it's a big red flag which basically said -- says, this might be
in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. And it's also very difficult to see how disallowing people to avail themselves of the right to
seek asylum doesn't violate the right to seek asylum, which is an established principle of human rights law and international refugee law.
That's part of English law, part of law within the region of the European Union, and the wider European region through the European Convention on
Human Rights, and international human rights and refugee law principles.
It's very difficult to see what the government's case could possibly be that justifies that this could be compatible with national or international
human rights and refugee law standards.
AMANPOUR: And it --
BETTS: We don't know because we haven't seen the government's legal case.
AMANPOUR: Yes, they're going to -- I think, you know, it's going through its first reading tonight after we speak -- or its second reading. Some
conservatives -- senior conservatives disagree with this thing and say they won't vote for it. The question is, will it work? Even if it goes through,
will it work?
BETTS: Yes. So, there's a question of will it go through parliament, and there is debate about whether it will get through the House of Commons then
the House of Lords. There's debate about whether it will get through the courts after that, it will face challenges, just as the Rwanda removal's
policy did. But even if it succeeded in those areas, which is highly doubtful, then there are questions about whether it is implementable in
And there are two massive obstacles there. One is, can the government realistically detain the number of people crossing the English Channel?
They've talked about using military bases, royal air force bases and repurpose them. But the scale at which that would be necessary to provide
detention that's in any way humane, including possibly children and unaccompanied minors, is open to question. And then the other question is
the agreements they need with third countries.
So, they've struck an agreement with Rwanda but no claims have left from the U.K. with asylum seekers through Rwanda yet. And they have talked about
a deal with Albania. And in the bill, there's a list about number of countries that they could send people back to its countries of origin. But
there just aren't that many countries in the world willing to take the asylum seekers coming to the U.K.
AMANPOUR: And very, very finally, clearly this is a lot of what one might say in the, you know, in the political press, red meat to the base. It
looks like this is something that certain parties, and we've seen it before, can campaign on around elections, and this and that. And certainly,
recent poll says, public opinion now is much more positive towards immigration.
So, tell me one thing, how political do you think it is? And how much does this country actually need migration, obviously manage to fill jobs that
are massively empty right now.
BETTS: This is, I think, very much a political move. It's with a view to a general election coming up, the conservative government is struggling in
the polls. And it needs to do something to be successful in the elections and actually recognize it that it's conservative base in many key
constituencies is very concerned with the small boats. And so, in making this announcement, they hope will do something to buttress their support in
their core constituencies.
Now, if we step back from this, the U.K. actually needs immigration. It needs skilled and unskilled workers. There are shortages of labor in
particular sector, including low skilled areas. And actually, the government --
AMANPOUR: All right.
BETTS: -- itself has recognized that. It needs to recognize --
AMANPOUR: I wish we could go on -- but I totally get your message and this is a long discussion to be had. And we really, really appreciate you
setting the record straight, Alexander Betts.
Now, we turn to a drug that our next guest says could, "Change the conversation about an often-stigmatized medical condition." Nearly 2.3
billion people globally, and more than two in five American adults live between overweight and obese. With the help of breakthrough weight loss
drugs, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford is seeing some patients lose as much as 15 to 16 percent in weight. And she joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the
recent buzz around these medicines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, thanks so much for joining us. You are and obesity
medicine physician at Mass General. And I want to know, right now, if I open a newspaper, I'm dating (ph) myself. If I open my phone, I see
headlines about new classes of medications with names like Wegovy, and Mounjaro, and Ozempic. First of all, just explain to us what these
DR. FATIMA CODY STANFORD, OBESITY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL AND HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL PROFESSOR: Absolutely. This particular
class of anti-obesity medications are what we call GLP-1 receptors agonist. Now, that's super fancy and it stands for Glucagon-like Peptide-1 receptor
agonist. You might not have to remember that, I do.
But let's talk about how these medications work in your body. They actually worked primarily in the brain by causing two pathways to function in a way
we want them to. There's a pathway of our brain called the plum C pathway, it's a pathway that tells us to eat less and store less. And these
medications work by really augmenting that pathway. Stimulating that pathway to be more active. But it also works by down regulating or
inhibiting the pathway called the AgRP pathway, and that pathway tells us to eat more and store more.
So, you can imagine that since it's working directly in the brain, we are seeing really potent degrees of weight loss in the order of somewhere
between 15 to 20 percent total body weight loss on average for the agents that you mentioned that -- the outset. But -- and that, they work in few
other ways. They actually slow movement through your G.I. tract. What does that mean? You go and eat something and it moves really slowly. So, you can
imagine, if you eat breakfast and things move really slowly, by the time lunch happens, you're probably still full, whereas you would normally be
hungry. So, that's another way it works.
And it actually improves how your body secretes a hormone called insulin. And then finally -- and this is what a lot of people don't know, it
actually browns your white fat tissue. You might be like, why does that matter? The more brown are fat issue is, the more active it is, which means
that even when we are sitting here, like we are doing, Hari, we are burning more at rest than we would be normally. So, it works in a lot of different
ways in the body and this is why, I think, it's gotten as much attention as it's gotten.
SREENIVASAN: So, we should mention that you do consult for a number of pharmaceutical companies, including the people who manufacture Ozempic.
DR. STANFORD: Right.
SREENIVASAN: And now you say that this is, kind of, a game-changer for how we think of obesity. Why is that?
DR. STANFORD: I don't necessarily think of this as a game-changer, but I think that these medications have gotten so much attention that they are
changing what we think about this disease. You know, it was in 2013 when the American Medical Association acknowledged obesity as a chronic disease,
but that new story came and it went.
Now, we actually see people really taking medications and benefiting from these medications. We are seeing responses, such that they feel like they
no longer have to struggle with weight. And they realized that their weight struggles are not all their fault. And so, I think that that's where we
talk about this changing the conversation surrounding obesity, what we see today here in the U.S. and around the world.
SREENIVASAN: So, tell me a little bit about the side effects that this class of drugs have. I know that each drug is different, but I have yet to
meet a drug that doesn't have a side effect.
DR. STANFORD: You are 100 percent true in terms of looking at this. The number one side effect from GLP-1 agonist is nausea. So, if you look at the
clinical studies, particularly as you titrating the dose, so, if we're looking at semaglutide, which for the treatment of obesity goes up to a
dose of 2.4 milligrams, as that patient is titrating from 0.25, 0.5, one milligram, 1.7, and then finally 2.4 milligrams, that titration, they may
feel nausea. Up to 44 percent of individuals can experience that. Now, what I have found is that if you need to stay at a dose longer to help mitigate
that side effect, that's going to be really important.
Behind nausea, the second most common side effect is constipation. And if you go back to how these medicines work, right, if things are moving
through the G.I. tract very, very, very slowly, things can get stopped, and you know. And so, sometimes we have to change a person's bowel regimen to
make sure that we don't have constipation, which can be very common.
Those are the two most common side effects that we see in the population. There are other, kind of, more rare side effects, but those are the most
common side effects.
SREENIVASAN: So, is this a forever medicine? I mean, one of the things that people have been reporting is that if they get off of this drug, that
the weight that they worked hard to lose is going to come back.
DR. STANFORD: You know, Hari, that's an excellent question. I'm so glad you asked it because I really want to answer it and make sure that we
I want us to think about this, and I'm going to divert our attention to thinking about diet and exercise. You know, we don't expect to eat one
healthy meal or eat healthy for one month, and that can last us. Similarly, we don't expect those exercises we were doing back in the late 90s -- I was
a Tae Bo enthusiast, to last us till today.
Similarly, when we are looking at these medications, they only work when we are using them. Tae Bo was really great back in the day. But if you're not
doing it today, it's not giving you that impact. And when you withdraw the medications and the wilding studies in the New England Journal really
demonstrated this, when you pull that back, what we start to see is weight regained back to where the patient was prior to adding that in? Why? We are
no longer acting on those pathways of the brain we talked about. It can't work if it's not being utilized.
So, if you are a responder, if you do need these medications, and they do work for you, this is a chronic use medication for the chronic relapsing,
remitting disease, that is obesity.
SREENIVASAN: What are the criteria that you are checking off in your, you know, mental checklist, that says this might be a candidate that would
benefit from this versus another candidate who might just have to hear that hard news that diet and exercises are really going to be the best thing for
DR. STANFORD: I typically follow the guidelines. And there are several sets of guidelines, but they all align with each other. So, they say that
we should consider medications for patients with a body mass index of 27 plus in obesity related disease. In which diseases, Hari, these are disease
like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea.
Now, if a patient has a BMI greater than or equal to 30, which places them into having obesity by BMI criteria, we could utilize medications in that
group also. So, those are the key criteria that we are often utilizing now. I am not a huge fan of BMI people who have heard me talk about this. And
so, I think on an individual clinician basis, this is also important to look at the full profile of that individual.
What type of obesity do they have? Do they have obesity related disease? What is necessary for that individual in front of you? But making sure,
like you said, to use these patients -- use these in patients that actually need them and not just people that want these medications.
SREENIVASAN: So, what if there are people watching right now who might not qualify under the category of obese but their doctors are concerned about
them heading into pre-diabetic mode. Maybe they have 15 or 20 pounds to lose. Is there a world where these drugs are introduced for a short time to
try to get somebody, like, that jump start until -- to get them, kind of, into a safer zone where they can get off it or this is just not for that
kind of person?
DR. STANFORD: You know, I don't see these as medications as a jump start, because that puts us into this idea of weight cycling, right. We have
something acutely that brings us down. And when we weight cycle, we can lose and then we typically regain, you know, as soon as we withdraw.
So, I look at these as appropriate tools for people that do need these long-term, not for a jump start or, you know, anything of that sort. And
just thinking, like I said, treating this as a chronic disease. I wouldn't put, you know, someone on a high blood pressure medicine that came in with
one high blood pressure reading, right. And then they didn't have evidence of sustained, you know, elevation in their blood pressure. And that's, kind
of, how I think that we should be thinking about, these medications.
SREENIVASAN: I asked about need versus want, because one of the things that we have seen with this category of medicines is it is really viral and
it's successful on social media, and you see a lot of people who, especially kind of, Hollywood, who -- almost brag about the fact that,
well, this is how I lost my weight. This is where it's worked for me. And some people, it's kind of like, this sort of, hush, hush thing where they
are kind of passing around access to this. And what has done to people who actually need the drugs?
DR. STANFORD: Well, you know, Hari, I think that that is actually -- you know, a little bit disgusting. I don't necessarily use that word when I
give interviews, but let's talk about why I see it as disgusting. There has been a major shortage of these medications.
This lasted throughout the course of 2022, and was a major sore spot for me and my patients. I only treat patients with obesity. And so, for patients
that I see, these are patients that do need these medications. But for six, seven, eight months of 2022, my patients couldn't get these medications
So, when these patients that need it, that can benefit from the metabolic, benefit from these drugs can't get the medicines, and they're being
utilized for people that don't need them, that creates a dynamic of the people that need these for longevity of life, reduction of heart attack,
strokes, et cetera, aren't getting them. And people that are just trying to look cute in a bikini or for whatever their next event on the red carpet,
you know, to look great.
I tell my patients that I'm caring about their health, and getting them to the healthiest way possible. I don't care about the next wedding they have,
or the next reunion, or whatever it is. I want to align with their health goals and not their aesthetic goals. And I think that's extremely
SREENIVASAN: There is also a pretty significant cost here. I mean, these are not cheap drugs if they're not being prescribed to them. Which kind of,
for me, it raises kind of an access and an equity issue, as well.
DR. STANFORD: You know, absolutely. I'm the director of equity here at Mass General for endocrine division so I'm always thinking about equity and
the role it plays and access to therapies, particularly for chronic diseases like obesity. And you're right, this has created this dimorphism
such that those that have wealth and have this tremendous access or able to access them, and those without aren't able to.
And that really creates significant angst for me as someone who cares for a sizeable portion of the population. Who are recipients of Medicaid, which
means that the medications would not be covered. Now, I happen to reside in the commonwealth of Massachusetts where our private insurers, meaning Blue
Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Mass General Brigham's insurance, et cetera, are covering these medications for patients that have those high
tier plans. People, you know, that fall into the group of myself.
But what about those people that who don't have those high tier plans? Where they can't get these medications for $30 a month, which is very
accessible. It creates a situation where I can't even prescribe these medications to those individuals that are most needing these medications.
You know, I really would like to see a shift in us thinking about this from a Walmart approach, right. If we give full access then people are able to
get what they need, we can drive down costs. It's just pure economics. That's what I would like to see, eventually. Because we're talking about
over 110 million adults, and over 20 million children that could potentially benefit. And right now, we are seeing less than 2 million
potentially being able to access any agent, including this class of medications here in the United States.
SREENIVASAN: I want to also talk a little bit about kind of the cultural costs. Because it seems like all the previous conversations we've always
had about weight has been with a little bit of a bias. That we've all, kind of, been told its diet and exercise that will do it. And if you don't
exercise enough, if you don't eat right, you're going to end up obese.
And then the inverse, if you are obese, then that means you must not be exercising, that you must not be eating right. But I know people in my own
life who do everything by the book and cannot change the way their body is shaped.
DR. STANFORD: Yes, Hari, I'm going to change one of your words. I'm going to delete the word obese, just because it can produce stigma. But you're,
that the right most common form of stigma that's still acceptable is weight bias, right. We are well within our purview of treating people that have
excess weight, obesity, in ways that are demeaning, devaluing, and not believing what they say. Not recognizing that they are putting forth the
sweat equity and they're just not yielding results.
And I really learned this as a resident. My own biases as a physician, as someone who has not struggled with my weight, has been an athlete, these
types of things. I had a patient that was in her mid-40s who had severe obesity, and had struggled with severe obesity her entire life. I was in
internal medicine and pediatric resident in South Carolina.
And what I would do is every single visit, she would come in and see me every two to three months. I would give her this diet recommendation, or
this exercise recommendation. All of these things. And over the course of three years, you know, I didn't see her weight shift. She would shift maybe
down two pounds, up one pound, really maintaining her weight set point.
Well, one day, Hari, I was leaving my work out, I ran into the grocery store and who did I see but this patient. As she was about to check out at
the grocery store line. So, I'm talking to her, she's like, hey, Dr. Stanford. I'm like, hey. And we're talking, but I'm trying to glance at her
cart, and I'm trying to glance without looking, right. I'm trying to be inconspicuous. Not doing a good job at it, because she says the following
to me. She says, see Dr. Stanford, I've done everything you told me to do. And when you looked at her cart, and this generates some emotion from me.
It was pristine, perfect, everything we had ever talked about for three years in her grocery cart as she's about to check out at the grocery store.
And it was at that point that I realized that this is not just about diet and exercise.
Now, as someone who no longer works and has not worked in South Carolina for over 12 years, I've been in Boston. I have no idea where she is and
what her health is. But I can tell you that I failed her. I didn't know that I was just giving her more and more recommendations. She was doing all
the things, but I wasn't changing her biology.
And so, it gives me significant pain to know that I wasn't able to have a major positive influence. And in many ways, was reflecting my own stigma
and bias against what she was and was not doing until that key moment in the grocery store. So, I think that that was where, it was -- you know,
moment, an inflection point in my life and my training is what brought me here to Boston, into Harvard to do three years of obesity medicine
fellowship. To learn how it could be better for patients, and that's really changed everything in the world for me and my patients that I care for.
SREENIVASAN: You also said on the obesity section of the Academy of Pediatrics, and I wonder what you think about giving children over 12
access to these medications.
DR. STANFORD: I think a lot of people have fear and a lot of the backlash that I've heard in the media, particularly in social media about the new
guidelines that were released by the AP regarding the use of medications and surgeries, like, we're setting people up from eating disorders, and
we're going to have people hyperfocus on their weight.
But I have a 12-year-old patient that is being treated with pharmacotherapy for obesity, that I've been taking care of the last two years. And I happen
to take care of both her father and her mother. Recently, for some reason, they asked her what she thinks about her weight doctor. I don't call
myself, but that's what they asked her. And she was like, I don't see a weight doctor. And they were like, well, yes, you do, Dr. Stanford. She was
like, oh, is that what she does?
And so, you wonder, how might I able to talk and deal with a patient from the ages of 10 to 12, seeing her at least seven or eight times over that
time, and her not know what I'm doing. Because my focus is her overall health. I know this can be done in a way that's respectful, that doesn't
set someone up for disordered eating. And something that when she looks back at 12, she had no idea even what I do for a living until recently when
her parents told her. That she will not feel as though this was a punitive situation.
She's been able to live life in a much fuller fashion after being treated for her obesity. Similarly, my patients that underwent surgery. Several of
my patients underwent bariatric surgery in their, you know, teens, 14, 15, they're now in their mid-30s. And the opportunities they have in life
because we know that weight stigma sets up for discrimination in the workplace, discrimination with hiring, discrimination in higher education,
et cetera. And those opportunities are very different after they've been treated and treated with dignity, kindness, and respect.
SREENIVASAN: Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard, thank you so
much for joining us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: important discussion there.
And finally, tonight, a night of glitz and glamour that made history for all the right reasons. Actors, directors, writers, and producers of Asian
descent took this year's Oscars by storm. The multiverse indie, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" saw leading lady Michelle Yeoh become the first
Asian woman to win for best actress, and only the second woman of color to win the prize ever. She said that to her, the golden statue is a beacon of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE YEOH, ACTRESS: For all the little boys and girls who look like me, watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is
proof that dreams, dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don't let anybody tell you, you are ever past your prime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we can all agree with that. When I spoke to Yeoh, shortly before the awards, she told me about her own big dreams and her refusal to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YEOH: You receive scripts, and as the year is get bigger, the numbers get bigger, the roles seem to shrink with that, right. As you know, as a woman,
as an aging woman, or whatever it is, somehow, they start putting you in boxes. And it's always the guy who gets to go on the adventure and save the
world and, you know, rescue your daughter. And you think, why can't I do that too?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: This was Yeoh's first leading role in a Hollywood film, and boy, did she prove her doubters wrong. Earlier in the show, of course, we spoke
with a hostility and cruelty facing many of the world's refugees, which Yeoh's co-star, Ke Huy Quan, has experienced firsthand.
He won best supporting actor. And in an emotional speech, he reflected on his own journey from Vietnamese refugee to Hollywood star.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KE HUY QUAN, ACTOR: My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp and somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood's biggest stage.
They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it's happening to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What a remarkable pair. And a true celebration of diversity and film. That's it for now, goodbye from London.