Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Aftermath of the Iranian Election; Guantanamo Detainess Being Settled in Bermuda

Aired June 14, 2009 - 23:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN CENTER: Hello, every one. I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

Iran is at the center of a global controversy. What we know right now is that the man many people thought would become the new president hasn't been seen in public. And President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he cannot guarantee his safety.


As demonstrators filled Tehran streets today, militias on motorcycles raced through town, swinging clubs and forcing people to run for cover.

Supporters of challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi accuse the government of rigging the election, especially after Mousavi appeared to be leading the vote count on Friday. A letter posted on Mousavi's Web site demand the election results be annulled.

And right now that doesn't seem likely. The apparent winner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, held a massive victory rally in Tehran today and you can see that tens of thousands of people turned out for that.

The president also offered a glimpse of what the next year is going to be like under him.


PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (Through Translator): Show me who dares to threaten Iran in the world, and if, God willing, this year if we go to the United Nations headquarters this year, I will address those people and I will tell them which one of you dares to threaten Iran, please raise your hand so that the people will cut your hand off.


LEMON: Well, the U.S. is conferring with its allies about the Iranian election and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with her Canadian counterpart yesterday at Niagara Falls. The Canadian foreign minister said Canada is deeply concerned by reports of voting irregularities in that Iranian election.

The Iran election is a complicated story with many moving parts and far reaching geopolitical consequences. CNN's global resources and correspondents are focused on every single aspect of the story to bring you the most current and important information from Tehran to Washington to reaction in major cities all over the world.

For an overview, we're going to go to CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. She has been in Tehran for the past week covering the election and now the ensuing protests.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Sunday, the streets of Tehran belonged to the supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hundreds of thousands of them filled one of the capital city's main squares and surged into the surrounding streets for a rally that was organized to celebrate Friday's election. And the results that gave him a controversial landslide victory.

Overhead helicopter footage told the story. And the president told the flag waving crowd they should be proud of their historic voter turnout and of the results.

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Today we should appreciate -- we should appreciate the great triumph of the people of Iran against a united front of all the world arrogance.

AMANPOUR: Just hours earlier at a press conference, he defiantly addressed the street protests and widespread complaints of fraud and cheating.

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Our people's response is quite clear and the 40 million people who participated in the election are present right now. Close to 25 million people who cast their votes in my favor are also present right now.

AMANPOUR: Referring to the country's nuclear program, a combative president said no foreign power would, quote, "even dare think of bombing Iran's nuclear sites." And he warned other governments that he's watching their reaction to his re-election.

Despite the huge crowd out for him this day -- angry reporters of the defeated Mir Hossein Mousavi were out again, too, in much smaller numbers, nonetheless, full of grievance.

At Tehran University, students waved fists and two fingers through the locked iron gates and they yelled, cheats!

(On camera): Despite the police presence on the streets and in some areas the running battles that they're having with the protesters, people are still allowed to be on the street. They continue to gather. There is no indication that there'll be any curfew or any more stringent punishment.

(Voice-over): Hundreds of regular and riot police are out. But for the most part, they maintain weary vigilance charging protesters when they ventured too close. But it's the non-uniformed revolutionary vigilantes on foot and in waves of motorbike advances who are causing most of the injuries. This young man shows us his baton bruises. Another weeps in fear after escaping a beating through an open door. The streets remain jammed with traffic, honking their protests, others wave and join in from the side.

This woman had a message for President Obama. "I just want him to know that this was not a vote for Ahmadinejad," she says.

Despite saying he was now president of all Iranians, whether or not they voted for him, when asked, Ahmadinejad failed to guarantee Mousavi's safety. Later, police issued a statement saying they had not arrested him. And a letter on Mousavi's Web site says that he's asking the authorities to nullify the election results while also calling on his supporters to refrain from any violence.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Tehran.


LEMON: Well, Iranians have been very passionate about their disputed presidential election and some of the best sights and sounds have come from our very own iReporters.

Look at the street scene in Tehran yesterday when emotions were especially high. The crowd was chanting "Ahmadinejad, shame on you, let go of the country. Then a truck dumped its load in the middle of the street there, an apparent gesture of solidarity that the crowd cheer. For security reasons, we've agreed not to identify the iReporter.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with more than 62 percent of the vote, but the opposition claims the election was rigged.

All over the globe Iranians are reacting to their country's disputed presidential election, as you see there in that protest that happened. They're showing up in droves to protest, wave Iranian flags and chant political slogans.

CNN's Ram Ramgopal goes -- gives us a detailed look at the demonstrators from across the planet.


RAM RAMGOPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From inside Iran, more evidence of the seething popular anger. Some of this footage coming via social networking sites, the contributors wanting to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

A video posted on CNN's Sunday showing protesters jamming the streets of Tehran and late in the evening garbage was still on fire as police on motorcycles try to impose order. In response, cars honking in disapproval of the police's action.

Protests, too, in cities around the world with expatriate Iranian populations, all of them seemingly anti-Ahmadinejad. In London hundreds gathered on the streets, many overseas Iranians sent in absentee ballots and the overwhelming sentiment among the demonstrators was that their votes had not been counted.

Similar scenes in Berlin, Germany and also across the Atlantic. In the Canadian city of Toronto, nearly 1,000 people showing up to a large protest. In several American cities, in Los Angeles, which has one of the largest populations of Iranian Americans, young and old joining the protest outside the federal building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the polls and all the predictions were saying that Mousavi was going to win, but Ahmadinejad won with such a huge landslide. It was just something that nobody even thought about, that even Ahmadinejad supporters didn't think about that, and then the way that they gave out the news was very fishy.

RAMGOPAL: In Washington the demonstrations were held outside the Iranian intersection at the Pakistani embassy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We (INAUDIBLE) even the people in Iran, these people are not much older than us, much younger than us in many, many cases, and they're out there willing to fight for their own freedom, for the vote that they cast. So, obviously, our heart goes out to them, our prayers go out to them.

RAMGOPAL: A show of solidarity for their compatriots in a distant land. What's less clear what long-term impact these protests will have?

Ram Ramgopal, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: Well, earlier I spoke with a freelance journalist in Iran, and we'll simply call her Nikou to protect her identity. And Nikou told me about the cycles of violence that have been erupting in Tehran. Take a listen.


NIKOU, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: In the early hours of the day and during daytime basically the city is calm, but it's an uneasy calm, and then towards 5:00, this is what we've seen the past two days, It starts to heat up and people start pouring out into the streets and young and old, men and women, and basically chanting slogans and demanding that their vote be recounted.

And then the anti-riot police, which I have never in my life before seen in Tehran, are out in full force. The normal police, the ordinary police don't do anything to the people because they're on their side. But the anti-riot police and the Basij, which are basically the militia-type organization controlled by the (INAUDIBLE) are also out there.

And then today for the first time we've had people coming out on the rooftops from their homes. People would then come out into the streets also chanting "God is great" slogan, which as Terry said goes back to the time of the revolution and has not been heard to this extent for the last 30 years. So it's really a momentous thing happening here. A titanic shift that is happening.


LEMON: You know, most of those demonstrations that we have been seeing have been anti-Ahmadinejad, but the Iranian president has plenty of supporters, too. We'll hear from one of them coming up very shortly.

And the social networking sites playing a huge role in the fallout over this election. We want to hear what you're thinking from some of those sites. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or iReport. We'll get it on the air for you.


LEMON: Back now to our special coverage of the disputed Iranian presidential election. CNN White House correspondent Elaine Quijano says Washington is watching closely and reacting cautiously.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad celebrated what he called his re-election, Vice President Joe Biden made clear the Obama administration has doubts.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: We don't have all the details. It sure looks like the way they're suppressing speech, the way they're suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated that there is some real doubt about that.

QUIJANO: Despite reports of voting irregularities, Vice President Biden did not signal the administration would back away from efforts to engage the Iranian government. But he insisted the U.S. position on Iran's nuclear program will not change.

BIDEN: Our interests are the same before the election as after the election. And that is we want the cease and desist who seek in the nuclear weapon and having one in his possession, and secondly to stop supporting terror.

QUIJANO: Analysts say if Ahmadinejad remains in power the U.S. will have no choice but to deal with him.

KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: It's going to be very difficult for the Obama administration to say that no, we want to speak to a difference (INAUDIBLE) leaders in Tehran given the influence which Iran has on major issues of critical importance to U.S. foreign policy from nuclear proliferation to Iraq and to Afghanistan.

QUIJANO: But the dispute over Ahmadinejad's re-election also ratchets up the pressure on the Obama White House to get tougher with Iran.

FARIBORZ GHADAR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: We need to take a half step back from this administration's olive branch and apology approach to enemies and countries that have been hostile to the United States of America.

QUIJANO (on camera): Domestically there's also pressure on the Obama administration to get tougher with Iran. In a statement Senator Joe Lieberman said the Iranian regime had made a mockery of democracy and he called on President Obama and lawmakers to express solidarity with the Iranian people.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, the White House.


LEMON: All right, Elaine.

Well, the opposition is up in arms, but there are plenty of people cheering the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Earlier I spoke with an Ahmadinejad supporter. He is a former political science professor at Tehran University and also a former adviser to Iran's nuclear negotiation team.


LEMON: Do you agree with all the talk of the presidential elections being rigged in Iran?

KAVEH AFRASIABI, IRANIAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Well, you know, there's a saying that the proof of pudding is eating. The burden of proof is on the shoulder of Mr. Mousavi and his allies to prove with substantial documents, and they have, you know, tons of independent observers at all the voting centers to document these alleged violations, to submit to the election commission as the law requires.

Unfortunately, three days later, Mr. Mousavi has not done that yet and one wonders why because...

LEMON: Can I...

AFRASIABI: You cannot ask for re-elections based on unfounded allegations.

LEMON: Let me ask you this, and some are asking why, yes. But you know he had the option to file a complaint, but there are rumors that he is under house arrest, that there are restrictions on cell phones, there's restrictions on Internet. Did he really have the option to do that at this point?

AFRASIABI: Well, according to his latest communique, he went to the Interior Ministry today and he also submitted a complaint to the Council of Guardians asking for basically new elections, so he's had freedom of movement and he's had plenty of time to put together a dossier citing the specific violations, and as I said there were some 3,000 independent monitors by the four candidates in addition to two sets of official monitors overseeing the election.

So Mr. Mousavi has the burden and he has not carried that burden, and add to that the fact that he was so overconfident about being the clear winner one hour after the voting centers had closed on and the vote count hadn't even begun yet, that he pretty much psychologically boxed himself into this winner syndrome that he hasn't been able to get out of that, and we've seen some of the unfortunate results of that.

LEMON: Are there people who say the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, did not win by such a huge margin, that he did not get 62, 63 percent of the vote. Do you believe that he did?

AFRASIABI: Well, look, since the start of the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago, we've had allegations of, you know, voting irregularities at almost every election, including during the era of reformist former president Mr. Khatami, and I incidentally worked with Mr. Khatami on the program of dialogue among civilizations.

And there's nothing new about that. However, we've never had this kind of blanket rejection of the entire process, and that reminds me of what Mr. Mousavi himself said back in 1986 when he expressed surprise that some people were calling the elections back then as rigged, and he said that, look, with so many monitors, how is it possible to cheat? And the same question should come and haunt him today, you know.

LEMON: Hey, Mister...


LEMON: Mr. Afrasiabi, I want to get...

AFRASIABI: Go ahead.

LEMON: ... a couple of things in here to make sure that we hear from you. Do you support the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

AFRASIABI: On balance, I do, and I think that he's done a tremendous job in terms of strengthening Iran. Iran today is a regional powerhouse with considerable international influence. He has defended Iran's nuclear right, and he has also made conciliatory gestures towards the United States and has offered to enter into dialogue.

LEMON: What do you think of Mr. Mousavi?

AFRASIABI: So overall I think this has -- well, Mr. Mousavi, you know, during the 21 years that the Iranian rulers were building Iran into the powerhouse that it is today, was concentrating on his artistic skills. And overnight he was parachuted to the forefront of the reformist movement, that he had no connection, organic connection to whatsoever, and now he's doing serious harm to the reformist movement by his -- you know exaggerated claims and so forth without backing them with empirical evidence.

So Mr. Mousavi, you know...

LEMON: Do you think that the results here will be contested?

AFRASIABI: Well, Mr. Mousavi and to a lesser extent Mr. Karobi have contested them, but as I said, you know, there are election laws that need to be followed, and the irregularity, the abnormality of Mr. Mousavi's actions consists of the fact that he did not follow those rules.

He did not submit a formal complaint to the Interior Ministry saying that in such and such places there were was such, you know, abnormalities and irregularities. He should have done that. He did not follow the rules.

Mr. Mousavi, let me add that, you know, he's an amateur when it comes to contested elections. He was never elected to those positions as prime minister. This is his first time running, and obviously he's an amateur at this...

LEMON: And sir...

AFRASIABI: ... because, you know, he boxed himself in this winner syndrome and ran with it basically.

LEMON: I don't mean to cut you off, but I really want to get as many topics as possible here. When I said do you think it will be contested, what I really meant is do you think it will be overturned and should it be overturned?

AFRASIABI: Well, in the absence of viable evidence proving that -- proving Mr. Mousavi's blanket rejection and allegations, I highly doubt that. So the burden is on Mr. Mousavi, and he has not proffered any substantial evidence.


LEMON: That was Kaveh. My interview with Kaveh Afrasiabi, former political science professor from Tehran University and supporter of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

You know the social networking sites has played a role in this story unlike any other we have witnessed. And so we want to get your responses on.

Here's what MsNashville says, "Thanks for your coverage on the Iranian protest. Horrible situation. The protesters including the students being attacked."

MrsCourtneyReed says, "See, we didn't give up now. CNN has taken notice."

MusicalQT says, "My question is, I have seen others. What can the people of Iran do? The president says he won. Enough said. What to do?"

Waanderlust says, "The freedom of the world rests on the freedom of Iran. We will not stand for this. We will not sit idle."

Twitter is where a lot of this is coming from. Facebook as well. MySpace and you've been seeing our iReports throughout the day, throughout our coverage here on CNN. Our special look at Iran's election fallout rolls on, including your iReports. Some of your pictures from the eye of the protests in Tehran. Plus, my exclusive interview with former detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, living under a cloud of secrecy until now.


LEMON: The president of the United States promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay within one year of taking office. He has received little support. Even among Democrats. But in a surprise move on Wednesday under cover of darkness, the administration relocated four detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Hamilton, Bermuda. A move that outranged many in Bermuda and in Britain, of which Bermuda is a territory.

Well, tonight for the first time the Guantanamo Bay detainees speak out. In a rare and exclusive interview with men who lived under a cloud of secrecy and isolation for years, I asked them their thoughts on the Bush and Obama administration.


KHALIL ABDUL NASSER, FORMER GITMO DETAINEE (Through Translator): We were in a jail innocently for more than seven years during the President Bush administration.

Now the new President Obama became elected. He tried really hard to bring justice, and he has been trying very hard to find other countries to resettle us and finally he freed us.

President Obama promised that he will shut down Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within one year, and he signed an executive order. I would like the President Obama to honor that word and free my 13 brothers who were left behind and all the rest of the people who deserve to be free.


LEMON: Well, the men are called Uigurs. Muslims from western China. They were captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the U.S. bombing began in October of 2001. Their country has called them terrorists. They say they were caught up in circumstances beyond their control.


NASSER (Through Translator): This is not true because I have never been any kind of training camp. I have never been receiving any training, and the U.S. courts confirms this, that I have never been a terrorist or trained for a terrorist, so this is just accusation against me.


LEMON: Ewart Brown is the premiere of Bermuda. He is joining us live tonight via Webcam from Smiths Parish, Bermuda.

Thank you so much for joining us, sir. It has been a few days. It has time to sink in with the people there in Bermuda. There were many skeptical people at first and we heard from them throughout our trip there last week. What are they saying now about it?

EWART BROWN, PREMIER OF BERMUDA: Well, I think the tide is turning, Don. As each day goes by, there seems to be growing support, especially from the religious community.

LEMON: There was a no-confidence vote by the opposition party in parliament on Friday, and I think they're going to take it up again starting next week. Are you concerned about that, Mr. Premier?

BROWN: Well, I'm always concerned, but lets be clear there was no vote. They tabled the motion. We don't know if or when it's going to be taken up. There's some technical issues to be dealt with, but you know, whatever happens with that, it will have its own life. But we feel comfortable in having done the right thing, the right thing for humanity.

LEMON: And listening to the outrage in Bermuda and some really, just you know people around the world saying -- wondering what was going on, I have to ask you this, do you think that you will survive this politically? Do you think you'll be OK?

BROWN: Yes, I'll be probably fine.

LEMON: OK. The British government has said publicly, and you know that, I spoke with you about this, that they're not happy with the way that it was handled. They were contacted late, but they do say that they support you. Most likely it will end up being a slap on the wrist, but they want to make sure that it doesn't happen again, but they do support you.

You said to me that this was -- there was tension there, but you believe tension in this relationship is healthy. Why is that?

BROWN: Well, because we are an overseas territory. The British government controls Bermuda and there are those of us who want to see that come to an end at some point when the people of Bermuda want it to happen. And so it's natural that there would be some tension. I called it healthy because I think that's what happens when intelligent people take retributions.

LEMON: What you're saying is you want independence and by - in order to get independence, you may need a very big ally and that ally would be President Barack Obama. I understand that you had a phone call with him, is that correct?

BROWN: That's correct. The president called and expressed his thanks to me and to the government and people of Bermuda, and I conveyed those thoughts to the people.

LEMON: OK. Ewart Brown ins the premiere of Bermuda and again we thank him for joining us with this exclusive interview here tonight. And as we said and the premiere has confirmed there was a vote of no confidence that was tabled. But we're going to be checking that out next week and actually I may be back in Bermuda to see what goes on. Thank you so much, Mr. Premier.

BROWN: Thank you.

LEMON: All right.

Let's get some analysis on this. Mark Preston, he is our CNN political editor, and April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. OK. So April, you heard from the premier. The men are in Bermuda, they're free, but there are some guidelines here for them.

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORR., AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes. As you know that these uighurs, they were found not to be enemy combatants, but some of the guidelines for their freedom in Bermuda - they have to check in and they will be monitored, but they cannot go back to China.

LEMON: Yes, and you know what, they are also - British troops are also going to come in we are hearing to interview them - to interview them, to make sure they're not a threat and once they do that if they deem them - the British government most likely that the men will be allowed to stay there, and again those are pictures from that exclusive interview that we did on Friday with those men.

So Mark, I have to ask you, this was one of the first major relocations since President Barack Obama took office. Does this help the president who has found little support even among members of his own party?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Don, it certainly alleviates some pressure now when we're seeing other countries open their doors, countries such as Bermuda, countries such as Chad. Palau is going to accept a handful of them as well. It alleviates some pressure on President Obama. The fact of the matter is there are a lot more that need to be relocated and he needs a plan.

LEMON: Yes. And we heard from president of Palau yesterday saying you know what it's a 50-50 deal. Even if it does happen, a 50-50 chance. If it does happen, it could take months. Hey, Mark, I got to ask you this, the problem here is that the administration has been asking other countries to take these detainees from Guantanamo Bay, but, you know, how can you ask other people to take the detainees when people here on American soil don't want them to come here either? That's the consensus for most people.

PRESTON: Yes, Don. And that's the problem right now. You have Congress right now who refuses to give him the money to close down Guantanamo. You have democrats who are demanding a plan. Republicans who say they're going to fight, fight, fight to keep Guantanamo open.

I'll tell you, Don, there's a prison in my community right now. And when you talk to some of my neighbors and say hey what do you think about these detainees being sent from Guantanamo to the prison down the road? A lot of them don't want it.

LEMON: Hey, April, you know, even though people may not want it, at some point they may end up here and they probably will, some of them, correct?

RYAN: Yes. From what I'm hearing from my administration sources, they're saying, look, it's a complicated issue. It's not helpful that Congress is saying things like we don't want them here, but they said ultimately it could be what you don't want it to be because some of these detainees will have to stand trial here on U.S. soil, and you have to house them in the areas where the courts are.

LEMON: All right. April Ryan is joining us tonight. April, it's her first time with us. And we appreciate it. Great analysis. American Urban Radio Networks. She's a White House correspondent for them, and you did well, so I'm sure we'll see you back here. And then Mark Preston, thank you so much for your analysis on this situation, both of you, as well as Iran.

We also want to tell you that earlier today we received a statement from the attorney of (INAUDIBLE) who is representing the uighurs. He was responding to some allegations that the uighur men were picked up he said in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He's saying that that's simply not true. "Neither the classified nor the unclassified U.S. government documents on these men, and I have read every page, contains any allegation that they ever had any Al Qaeda link or were at all in an Al Qaeda camp. The Bush administration never alleged in any court filing that they were in an Al Qaeda camp."

That's at our exclusive interview with the uighurs in Bermuda happening last week and again that story is going to continue. We may be there next week reporting on what's happening there with the premier.

An important part of our coverage of the election in Iran has been the incredible pictures we are getting from you. Some of your images from the eye of the protests in Tehran. Plus, our Middle East Affairs editor, Octavia Nasr, gives us a whole new perspective.


LEMON: Well, the Iranian government apparently is trying to tamp down reporting on the protests detaining journalists there, jamming signals, and so on. So alternative media, alternative ways to get the information outside the republic are being utilized and we can attest to that. These are just some of the responses that we have been getting here. It is really touched a nerve. Our twitter account, our mailboxes, oh, man, full from your submissions and they are still coming hot and heavy.

Technology, specifically social networking sites, playing a bigger role than ever in getting the story out of the country and to the rest of the world. For more on this we go to CNN's senior Middle East affairs editor Octavia Nasr. She joins us now live via web cam with this technical angle on this story.

So Octavia, can I just ask you a couple of questions from people we're getting on-line? Is that OK?

Ok. So here we go. You said sure. One person asks how did the Iranian government count 35 million, if this is a correct number, votes so quickly? Isn't it supposed to be three days?

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SENIOR MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS EDITOR: That is a very good question. And of course, anyone who watched the press conference that President Ahmadinejad gave in Tehran (AUDIO GAP), many others challenged him on basically showing the way these votes were counted, giving proof of the count.

And you know, one thing he joked about it and he said how do you know that the vote is rigged? Did you get to ask 40 million people who they voted for? But that's exactly the question that people are asking. How did he count 40 million votes so quickly and announce the results so quickly? That is part of why people are not buying the results and they're saying that they feel that their voices are lost. That's why there is this campaign, especially being waged online, people saying they feel that their voice was stolen from them and they want them back.

LEMON: Here's a - and this is a very good question that we're also getting from one of the viewers. Where can the public see all these ballots? Can they see these ballots at all, Octavia? Does that happen there?

NASR: What happens to the ballots? You were breaking up on me. Don?

LEMON: Apparently, we're having a little bit of a problem with Octavia. Octavia, if you can hear me, we can hear you, and let us know if we get that back. Why don't we move on. If we can fix that with Octavia, we'll bring her back, but that is a good question. Where can the public in Iran see these ballots if they can see them at all.

As we said, the social networking sites really playing a huge role in this. So we have been following and monitoring what people have been saying very closely. Time now for some of that.

Itsconcon said Iran's human rights record is horrible, so this comes as no surprise. Sedaakamatsu(ph) says Ahmadinejad is a traitor and a liar. Israel is more likely now to military attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Mousavi won. A better Julie says did they really think this election would go any other way? I am surprised by the surprise.

Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, i-reports, we've been getting a lot of your responses. You've seen the amazing i-report pictures. I want to thank our i-reporters for all of this. Also, check on-line on and then click on Don. We'll have some interesting information there. All of our coverage including behind the scenes footage of my trip to Bermuda to interview the uighurs, the former Gitmo detainees, exclusive material there.

Our live coverage of the Iran election fallout continues. Where is opposition leader Mousavi and will he be safe? CNN's Christiane Amanpour asks President Ahmadinejad face to face.


LEMON: So at a news conference today, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Friday's election was free and fair. But when CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked about his opponent's safety, Ahmadinejad avoided a direct answer. Take a listen.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): You said that you were the president of all Iranians, no matter who they voted for. I would like to ask you what is the situation with your challenger, Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi, and will you guarantee his safety, and why have opposition reform individuals, officials, been arrested?

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): The situation in the country is in a very good condition. Iran is the most stable country in the world and there's the rule of law in this country, and all the people are equal before the law, and the elections as with the the population has witnessed people's massive turnout.

As I said, even in a soccer match the people may become excited and that may lead to a confrontation between them and the police force. This is something natural a person coming out of stadium and may violate the traffic regulations. He will be fined by the police no matter who he is. An ordinary person or even a minister. So these are not problems. These are not causing problems for the people of Iran and 40 million that participated in the election and these 40 million people will safeguard the elections based on the Iranian culture. There is no partisanship on the basis of the western concept.

In fact, the people are friends with each other. And they're going to cast their votes in favor of any candidate they like. And, of course, such a voting process will not lead to any hostility among the people. You go to the streets, you see the people who are friends with each other, and in Iran no one asks the other to whom are you going to vote for. The situation is very good, and Iran is on the threshold of making considerable progress and definitely in the next four years the status of Iran in the world will be further promoted and we're going to witness Iran's economic and scientific and cultural progress taking place, making considerable progress. In the next four years Iran will turn into a major economic power in the world, and it's, of course, it's already a political power as well.

AMANPOUR: Sorry, I may have missed the translation. I was asking whether you were going to guarantee safety. No, just the first question. Last night you said that you were the president of all Iranians.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Yes. I did respond to your question. I said that people come out of a stadium, one person may be angry and he may pass the traffic light violating the traffic regulations and he will be fined by the police. He is also a member of the Iranian nation. Of course he has been fined for just violating the traffic rules. This has nothing to do with your question. I'm the president of all Iranians and as I have been in the past four years. All people are respected and all people are equal before the law, and I like all the people, all members of this nation. And, of course, I am not happy with a person violating the traffic rules.


LEMON: All right. Our senior Middle East affairs editor Octavia Nasr is back again. Octavia, you heard the exchange there between our Christiane Amanpour and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. People are demanding answers and one is where can - I asked you this earlier. Where can you see those ballots, if at all, in Iran?

NASR: Right. That is a very good question. This is particularly what's driving these people who are saying that they feel that their votes were stolen from them, and you can hear President Ahmadinejad. He's a very, very smart man, very good with words. He never answers these questions. You see Christiane being forceful there, trying to get an answer to whether he is going to make sure that Mousavi is all right. He wouldn't answer that. He kept answering around that and every question he dodged and he's not going to answer.

He kept saying Iran is a free country. Iran is the best country in the world. It has democracy and all that, and he won't answer those questions. People are saying he heard reports of ballots being burned in the back of trucks. We heard so many reports that we couldn't confirm ourselves because all information - and also places are pretty restricted to the media.

One thing that I wanted to mention, Don, right now, many reports of violence against citizens. We're hearing, as a matter of fact, just posted on a blog by an eyewitness inside Tehran. He was an eyewitness to brutality and we're posting that right now on But we're hearing and seeing video like that with students at the University of Tehran, people could possibly be hurt and needing medical attention, but they are stuck inside the dorms right now.

So the situation is dire, and the Iranians are waking up to a reality that they have no control over. They're not sure what's going to happen. They have Mousavi on one hand saying he's going to carry on with his challenge of the results and President Ahmadinejad who -

LEMON: Octavia, we're having trouble with your audio. So, we're going to thank you right here. We appreciate your reporting. OK, Octavia.

Another major story developing today. The Palestinian people get an apparent peace offering from Israel and their answer is no. Why?


LEMON: Another story we're following from the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will entertain the prospect of peace with the Palestinians if they demilitarize. This is the first time Netanyahu is openly considering the concept of the two-state solution for the Middle East conflict. Listen to his comments from earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have to recognize this and insist, with great assertiveness, on the situation, on the principles for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. One is recognition that Palestinians have to recognize the fate of Israel as a country of the Jews. And the second element is demilitarization. A Palestinian entity must be demilitarized and the Israelis have to have a real defense edge over it.


LEMON: Well, to that suggestion of demilitarization, Palestinians say no way. A chief Palestinian negotiator says Netanyahu has left them with nothing to negotiate. Palestinian lawmakers accusing Netanyahu of trying to create a "ghetto state."

Well, the White House calls Netanyahu's comments an important step forward. In a statement, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs goes on to say, the president is committed to two Jewish states. A Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine in the historic homeland of both people. He believes the solutions can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state. And he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal.

LEMON: I want to recap now our special coverage of the Iranian presidential election fallout. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. I want to welcome our international viewers who are joining us on CNN International Worldwide. Iranians are protesting the results of the presidential election across the globe.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed victory during a news conference in Tehran and there's still been no sighting of political opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi. But he did demand on his website that the results be annulled. Claiming the election as rigged. Today Ahmadinejad declined to guarantee Mousavi's safety in response to a question from CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Meantime, thousands of Ahmadinejad supporters jammed the streets of Tehran to hear his victory speech. Demonstrations by Mousavi supporters over the last few days frequently turned violent as riot police stepped in.

Social networking sites playing a huge role in this story. Here's what some of you are saying, onemorebite said I may have missed the translation. Genius way to say you jerk, my answer or answer my questions. What do you think? Free Iran 1979 says support Iranian people. Help fight and end this madness. JackHedden says obviously Ahmadinejad has the support of the theocracy and opponents will hit a brick wall. This also gives him military support.

Peace in Iran says, don't get astonished by watching Ahmadinejad supporters rally. They have been transferred from different sites to Tehran. Logon to Twitter, Facebook, Myspace,, we'll get your responses on the air.

I'm Don Lemon. Our focus on the Iran election fallout continues here on CNN. A special edition of "Larry King Live" is next.