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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Russian Court Sentences Brittney Griner To 9 Years In Prison; China Fires Missiles Near Taiwan; UK Leadership Debate. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. Welcome to THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Just ahead, a Russian court sentences Brittney Griner to nine years of jail time. The Biden administration says, it will continue the efforts to bring

the basketball star home.

Then, Chinese missiles fly over the island of Taiwan for the very first time. The time when he's president warns, we will not provoke, but we will

defend ourselves.

And another UK leadership debate. The final one, head to head on TV, has just wrapped up following a dire economic forecast. And that is just one of

the biggest issues. The next, which is British prime minister will have to do.

Now, the Biden administration is urging Russia to accept what it calls, a substantial prisoner swap proposal after a court near Moscow sentenced the

U.S. basketball star to nine years in prison. A judge found Brittney Griner guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent, despite an apology and

request for leniency.

The White House press secretary talked about the verdict just a short time ago.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today's sentencing is a reminder of what the world already knew. Russia is wrongfully detaining

Brittney. She never should've had to endure a trial in the first place. We have repeatedly called for Russia to release her immediately. As you all

know, we have made a substantial offer to bring her and Paul Whelan home. We urge Russia to accept that proposal.


NOBILO: Before she was sentenced, Griner told the court that she had made an honest mistake. And was rushing when she packs cannabis oil in her

luggage back in February. Her attorneys say, they will appeal, calling the verdict, absolutely unreasonable.

Let's go live now to Moscow, where we are joined by our Frederik Pleitgen.

And, Fred, the U.S. has accused Russia of bad faith attempts and avoiding serious offers in this exchange. Now they've sentenced Brittney Griner to

nine years, which is close to the maximum sentence.

Do you think Russia is likely to leverage this and ask for more in exchange?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think one of the things that certainly going to happen is that there is going to

be a larger sense, and even larger sense, of urgency on the part of the Biden administration to get Brittney Griner out of Russia and Paul Whelan

as well, as fast as possible. This sentence certainly was a very tough one.

And, you know, the Russians have been saying that they want to keep all of this behind closed doors, so it's very difficult to ascertain whether or

not they will try to leverage this even more.

But, you know, what the United States has been saying is that they believe a counter offer that the Russians made, which not only involved apparently

Viktor Bout, but also a second individual who was convicted of murder in Germany. But that was not really a counter offer, they believe that the

Russians were buying to trying to buy time. The Russians, for their part, not talking about any of this at all.

But I do think that today was a shocking day for Brittney Griner and her legal defense team. And certainly a much harsher sentence than any of them

thought would've come down.

We were at the courthouse today and here's what we witnessed.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Britney Griner holding up a photo of her Russian teammates, as she hoped for a lenient verdict from the court. Griner,

shedding tears as she appealed to the judge.

BRITTNEY GRINER, BASKETBALL STAR: I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, UMMC, the fans, and the city of Ekat, for my mistake that I made and

the embarrassment that I brought on them.

PLEITGEN: The WNBA star pleaded guilty to the charges that said, she did not intend to bring vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil to Russia,

where she was detained at a Moscow airport in February.

GRINER: I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here. I made an

honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn't end my life here.

PLEITGEN: But that did not move the judge, handing down a nine-year jail sentence to be served in a penal colony, and a fine of over $16,000.

Britney Griner's lawyer, clearly angry and disappointed, and vowing to fight long.

MARIA BLAGOVOLINA, BRITTNEY GRINER'S RUSSIAN COUNSEL (through translator): We think the verdict was totally out of order. It does not correspond to

what is happening and what happened. And it is totally going against the actual part of the Russian penal code.


PLEITGEN: Both the White House and the State Department condemn the verdict and the long jail sentence. The U.S. lists Brittney Griner as being

wrongfully detained, and says it's put what it calls a substantial offer on the table to bring both Brittney Griner as being wrongfully detained, and

says it's put what it calls a substantial offer on the table to bring both Brittney Griner and former marine, Paul Whelan, who is currently serving a

16-year jail sentence in Russia, home.

The charge d'affaires of the U.S. was inside the courtroom near Moscow and said the United States will continue to fight for Brittney Griner.

ELIZABETH ROOD, U.S. EMBASSAY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES: President Biden's national security team and the entire American government remain committed

to bringing Ms. Griner home safely to her family, friends and loved ones.

PLEITGEN: Brittney Griner's lawyers said she was extremely shaken by the verdict but she, too, will fight on, sending love to her family as she was

led out of the courtroom and back to the detention facility she's been locked up in for more than five months.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And you can see there, Bianca, we could also hear today from Brittney Griner's legal defense team, they were clearly very

disappointed. They thought that they had actually done pretty good job making their case and asking for leniency from the court, but, you know,

one of the things that their defense lawyer told me if she believed that the court actually did not take any of their considerations into account

when coming to this verdict.

Now, they have ten days to file an appeal against the sentence, and they say that's exactly what they're going to do. However, one of the things

that the defense team has also said is, they have said that they believe that a verdict needed to be in place and sentencing needed to be in place

in this case, in order for a prisoner swap to happen.

So, it could be the case that maybe negotiations will go into higher gear now that the sentencing and the verdict have happened. But again, this is

something that's happening behind closed doors. The Russians want to certainly keep it behind closed doors. They've warned the United States

against what they call, megaphone diplomacy.

But you do get the sense, and we got the sense today from the charge d'affaires that we saw, also from the State Department and from President

Biden, who tweeted very shortly after this verdict came down, there is a big sense of urgency right now within the U.S. government, Bianca.

NOBILO: Frederik Pleitgen for us in Moscow, thank you so much.

And the U.S. is prepared to postpone in a long plan the ballistic missile tests over concerns about China's response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's

trip to Taiwan earlier this week.

National security spokesperson, John Kirby, says that China has chosen to overreact to Pelosi's visit. He says, the test of an unarmed three

intercontinental ballistic missiles has been rescheduled. Meanwhile, China is making good on its promise that Taiwan would pay a price for hosting

Speaker Pelosi. Beijing fired multiple missiles into waters around Taiwan. The largest military drills in recent memory.

The exercises disrupted international flights and impacted shipping routes. And Japan is upset after the five missiles are believed to have landed in

its exclusive economic zone.

Taiwan's president is calling the drills, irresponsible, and is vowing to defend the islands sovereignty. But China is standing by its show of force.

Take a listen to what the Chinese ambassador to France had to say about it.


LU SHAYE, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE (through translator): After the reunification, we will do a reeducation. I'm sure that by that time, the

population of Taiwan will become in favor of reunification again, become patriots again.


NOBILO: The U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation are now in Japan, as part of a high profile trip to Asia. Earlier, Pelosi visited

South Korea and made a stop at the Korean demilitarized zone. Pelosi says, it was a privilege to engage with American service members there. She

visited the Osan Air Base and called U.S. forces in Korea, quote, sentinels of democracy on the Korean peninsula.

Now, let's look at some stories making headlines from Russia's war on Ukraine. Ukrainian officials say that eight civilians were killed and four

injured by Russians shelling in a town in Donetsk. Local military chief is urging residents in the region to flee, and avoid becoming, quote, a

Russian target. Nearby, Russian-backed officials in that so-called Donetsk People's Republic, accuse Ukrainian shelling, Ukrainians of shelling and

killing five civilians.

Nearly 6000 civilians are stuck on one of the few corridors from Russian occupied territories to Ukrainian-controlled Zaporizhzhia, after flooding

wiped out the roads. Ukrainian officials say that more than 1,200 cars are sitting at a government checkpoint and face a wait of up to seven days.

As Russia suffers massive chip shortages, western officials say, it's adapting the way it recruits new people and the way it wages were. Those

officials believe that Russia has lost some 75,000 fighters to death or injuries. They say that Russia is now recruiting from prisons and rural

areas, and is now sending smaller formations to fight in the battlefield.

CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robinson, traveled to the front line, and he has this report for us.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The road to Ivanivka isn't safe. Playboy, his war name, is taking us there across the country.

He says, his forces recaptured it from the Russians following a two-week artillery battle.


ROBERSTON: That was a month ago. It is still deserted, only abandoned pets and farmyard animals here now.

When you come in here and you look at the farm here, the animals left out, the dog in the terrible state. How do you feel?


ROBERTSON: And when can people come back to this village?

PLAYBOY: I think when we will go --

ROBERTSON: Further forward.

PLAYBOY: Further to the next line of villagers.

ROBERTSON: Unexploded shells litter the ground, the end of war a long ways off, he says.

PLAYBOY: I think it's not real finished very fast because we are not so powerful right now.

ROBERTSON: During the attack, Ukrainian forces estimate they killed about 50 Russian soldiers, injured about 100 more. A big challenge for the

Ukrainians now, mustering enough man to advance further.

The frontline is just a few kilometers away, a single artillery shell hits its target. The troops that took this place last month, have moved on.

PLAYBOY: We are planning to move forward. Shortly.


PLAYBOY: I don't know. From my own opinion, I think in a month.

ROBERTSON: At the village school, with windows smashed, classrooms trashed. Empty ration packs on the floor. And the message scrawled before

they retreated.

The Russian troops have left a parting message, it says Russia is everywhere! It has no borders.

And over here, they have crossed out the Ukrainian word for march, and said use the right language.

Where the Russians appear to fight harder in trenches around the village, armored vehicles and tanks taken out by artillery.

You get an idea of the ferocity of the fight here from the artillery impacts, and the way that the trees around here are all shredded. But here

is a surprise. Hitting these targets with U.S. gifted M-777 artillery was not as easy as the soldiers expected.

PLAYBOY: M-777 shoots quite good. But not so good as we expected.

ROBERTSON: Not ungrateful, he says, and very willing to learn very better skills.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Ivanivka, Ukraine.


NOBILO: The annual U.S. Conservative Political Action Conference has kicked off in Dallas, Texas. And this year, a foreign leader took the

stage, Hungary's controversial prime minister, Viktor Orban. The EU accuses his government of undermining LGBTQ rights, controlling the media, and much

more. He was given a 30-minute speaking slot at CPAC and the title of his speech was, how we fight.


VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER: Progressive liberals didn't want me to be here because they knew what I would tell you. Because I'm here to

tell you that we should unite our forces. Because we, Hungarians, know -- because we, Hungarians, know how to defeat the enemies of freedom on the

political battlefield.


NOBILO: Senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is in the Hungarian capital for us.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could call it a meeting of like minds. Video from his official Facebook

page shows Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visiting former President Donald Trump Tuesday at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, on his way to

this week's Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas.

The hard right, anti-immigrant prime minister recently set off alarm bells with a speech laced with sinister undertones.

We Europeans, Orban said, are willing to mix with one another, but we don't want to become peoples of mixed race.

He has since come out insisting he is not racist or anti-Semitic. The damage, however, is done.

Viktor Orban's talk about racial mixing, about racial purity stirred up dark, still fresh memories.


These metal shoes commemorate the spot where in the final months of World War II, Hungarian Nazis murdered thousands of Jews.

It is time for evening prayer in Budapest's historic Dohany Street Synagogue. Rabbi Robert Frolich says Orban's words hit too close to home.

ROBERT FROLICH, HUNGARIAN RABBI: You saw the small congregation here. They come here every evening, every morning to pray. They are older people. Most

of them are Holocaust survivors.

They are worried. They heard this before. And it didn't end well.

WEDEMAN: Often described as an authoritarian, Orban has been in power for the last 12 years, reelected in April. His economic policies have won him

support, but with inflation rising, that is beginning to change, says economist Zoltan Pogatsa.

ZOLTAN POGATSA, ECONOMIST, UNIVERSITY OF WEST HUNGARY: In the long run, yes, I think Orban remains popular, but in this particular point in time, I

think more people are skeptical about him than ever before.

WEDEMAN: In Budapest central market, opinions vary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not liked in our own country.

WEDEMAN: Margarita Kranick (ph), the butcher, begs to differ. Viktor Orban is doing everything for his people, she says. He loves his people.

Evening, city residents savor the soft breezes of the Danube. History flows through this city, the past never far from the surface.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Budapest.


NOBILO: After the break, in the UK, Liz Truss says a recession is not inevitable after the Bank of England warns that country will fall into one

of the fourth -- into recession into the fourth quarter this year.

Plus, the scrambled to come up with treatment plans for monkeypox, as cases rise dramatically around the world.



NOBILO: The impact of inflation on the wallets of everyday people is being felt around the world. Here in the UK, there is no hiding what is now a

crippling cost of living, which is only getting worse. Today, the Bank of England projected that the UK would enter recession in fourth quarter of

this year, and that is a crisis that the next British prime minister will inherit.

Just last hour, the final two candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, wrapping up the Sky News debate, the battle for number 10.

To break down that debate and the -- for the leadership contest, let's bring in CNN's UK and European policy and politics editor, Luke McGee from

London for us.

Luke, what was your reaction to that debate?

LUKE MCGEE, CNN UK AND EUROPEAN POLICY AND POLITICS EDITOR: Well, I think it fairly clearly highlights that these are two candidates with very, very

different approaches of how to deal with what is going to become this dominant issue in British politics, which is how to handle the cost of

living crisis. You had the former chancellor, finance minister, Rishi Sunak, presenting a very sort of stable, doesn't want to do anything that

would increase inflation, and doesn't want to go ahead with cutting taxes in stark contrast to his rival, Liz Truss, who is really promoting an

agenda that would be around a sort of very traditional conservative growth of the economy, growth of the private sector, which right now, it's not

clear that that's actually the correct way to go.

And it actually goes contrary to traditional conservative ideas. But it even some of the most prominent economists supporting her campaign have

said that her plans would actually lead to greater inflation and interest rate rises. So, this dominant issue really is now dividing the party in

many ways, it also political issues have happened recently.

NOBILO: And do you think that a Liz Truss premiership is inevitable at this point, given what you know about the conservative party membership

that will be voting, the polls that we've seen recently, could anything really change the game here?

MCGEE: Well, we have to play in the caveat that the conservative party members are incredibly hard to pull. We don't even know have many members

there are. So, it's very hard to tell.

But if the polls currently coming out -- even the undersides couldn't swing it for Sunak, so it looks like very much it's going to be Liz Truss and it

looks like we know what the problems of her first year in government is going to be, frankly. She's going to have to deal with the cause of living

crisis, while delivering on some of these pledges she's made in a run up to this. She is also going to have to deal with the fact that she really is

the continuity Boris Johnson candidate, and for some people, that's a great thing. For others, it puts her in a really difficult position. With lots of

members of her party who are sick of the way the government have been working over the past year or so.

NOBILO: And lastly to you, Luke, just quickly, do you think that his leadership context has been a gift to Labour so far?

MCGEE: I think they are probably already drawing up their attack. -- there is going to be a real, the sort of memory of Boris Johnson's leadership is

going to really hang over the party and they are going to have been in government for over a decade, a time when the economy is badly suffering.

NOBILO: Luke McGee for us in London, thank you so much.

The UK parliament has just closed its TikTok account, I know that you were all following, just days after it joined. It left the social media app

after a group of parliament members signed a letter, saying that they were concerned about the Chinese government getting access to their data. TikTok

is owned by a Chinese parent company. TikTok spokesperson says, they are happy to reassure MPs about their concerns, and to clarify inaccuracies

about the platform.

The White House has now declared monkeypox a public health emergency. And officials say the U.S. should get 150,000 additional vaccine doses next

month. The majority of the outbreaks cases are being reported in gay and bisexual men, but the WHO says that anyone can get this disease.

Salma Abdelaziz spoke to some of the men who have been affected by it.


SILVER STEELE, ADULT FILM ENTERTAINER: Hey guys, day 15 of monkeypox.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After adult film entertainer, Silver Steele, tested positive for monkeypox, he started to

document his painful struggle from isolation in Texas.

STEELE: I don't want anyone to have to go through this. So, my story will help people possibly change their behaviors or attempt to go get

vaccinated, then it'll be worth it.

ABDELAZIZ: It's a trend. Social media is key to raising awareness at ground zero of this health crisis, the gay community.

Ninety-eight percent of cases so far are among men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization. But sex is not required to

transmit the virus. It's passed on primarily through close skin on skin physical contact.

Do you feel that there is a stigma?


STEELE: One hundred percent. First of all, it's easy to label it as a gay disease. But this virus does not go, oh, I'm going to find a gay person,

oh, there's another gay person is just going to find a human.

ABDELAZIZ: From a sexual health clinic in east London, Dr. Iain Reeves says, he witnessed the early days of the outbreak.

DR. IAIN REEVES, SEXUAL HEALTH CONSULTANT: To start off with, all of us were little bit in the dark, to be honest with you. You know, kind of --

infection that I was familiar with at all.

ABDELAZIZ: Now health care workers are playing catch-up, trying to vaccinate those most at risk faster than the virus can spread.

Clinics like this one had to react quickly to the outbreak, training their staff, preparing tests, giving out dozens of vaccinations a day. It's put a

strain on health services and there is no sign the demand is letting up.

Word of mouth and public messaging are driving more and more to come forward for their shot.

JONNY DILLON, MONKEYPOX VACCINE RECIPIENT: People are, I think, taking this seriously and making sure that they are protecting themselves and

protecting each other --

ABDELAZIZ: But monkeypox cases are still on the rise. And with limited vaccine supply, containment still presents a challenge.

ALIESKY ROMERO, MONKEYPOX VACCINE RECIPIENT: Some friends of mine had it quite bad, so I thought better.

ABDELAZIZ: And health care workers are scrambling to access a historically marginalized population.

REEVES: One of the concerns I have is that people that we -- are going to be kind of the best connected, so I cannot believe people who historically

are less served by health services behind a little bit.

ABDELAZIZ: And that is why alongside public health messaging, grassroots voices are making an impact. So far, more than 1 million people around the

world have viewed Steele's video.

How does that make you feel, to know that your message is being heard?

STEELE: Fulfilled, fulfilled. But I'm going through, what other people are going through is not for nothing. Because I'm telling you, you don't want

this. It's painful.

ABDELAZIZ: A community rallying to prevent a new disease from taking hold.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN London.


NOBILO: Thank you for watching today. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

And "WORLD SPORT" is up for you now.