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CNN Speaks With Detained Iranian-American From Prison; Ukraine: 11 Dead After Russia Unleashes Massive Bombardment; Bodies Of Americans Killed In Mexico Expected To Return To U.S. Today; Tiger Woods' Girlfriend Suing For $30 Million, Wants NDA Nullified; California Braces For More Powerful Rainstorms. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 09, 2023 - 15:30   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Get some attention from the White House and in the administration would actually do what it says and that is make the release of all of the American-Iranian hostages in prison their top priority. This is a little bit of what he said to us.


SIAMAK NAMAZI, EVIN PRISON IRAN (via phone): The very fact that I've chosen to take this risk and appear on CNN from Evin prison, it should just tell you how dire my situation has become by this point. I've been a hostage for 7 1/2 years now. That's six times the duration of the hostage crisis. I keep getting told that I'm going to be rescued, and deals fall apart or I get left abandoned. Honestly, the other hostages and I desperately need President Biden to finally hear us out, to finally hear our cry for help and bring us home. And I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. So, this is a desperate measure.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: He also talked about his time at the detention center, being treated like a dog, fed from a bowl on the floor. And during your interview, I wondered how is this possible that he's having this conversation with you from prison?

AMANPOUR: Well, how is it possible indeed. He was specifically talking about his first two years in prison when it was solitary and he was, as you said, those terrible conditions. Now he says he's in a general ward, i.e., a more communal part of the prison with others, including perhaps -- although we don't actually know -- anyway, there are two other Americans there -- Iranian Americans.

And I guess, you know, I guess he's allowed to talk to his lawyer and others occasionally. Any way, that's what we think. He wanted to do this. As I said, he was out of options. There is a -- an analyst has told us, an expert, that there's some kind of process that's been underway, but in the end, it'll probably involve a deal between Iran and the United States. And for the U.S. is sometimes unpalatable. But experts believe the U.S. needs to be able to chew gum and walk at

the same time. Condemn Iran for the things they disagree with on Iran, and yet work with them to get back their nationals and to get a nuclear deal to make the world a safer place.

So, this, you know, is something that will fall on President Biden's desk. And that's why he's appealing directly to the president.

BLACKWELL: Yes, ended that exchange by speaking directly to the president. And the questions, the frustration of watching other Americans come home. We of course, all know the stories of Jason Rezaian.

AMANPOUR: Exactly, there have been at least three times since he's been -- since Siamak has been in jail since 2016, where Iran and America have swapped prisoners, three times. Each time he has been left off.

We did put this to the U.S. government, the State Department just recently in its briefing said, we remain committed. It is a high priority. We do have regular contacts. But the fact is, that White House has not had regular contacts with the family. And you know, America has been dealing with this for a long time, since 1979. Like he talked about the hostage crisis. That was in 1979 when the diplomats were held hostage at the beginning of the Iranian revolution. But he's been there six times longer, and they're desperate these people. They been, you know, taken in for no good reason at all, except as political pawns.

BLACKWELL: The good thing is that the entire interview is online. And he talks about his father who came for him and then was not allowed to leave.

AMANPOUR: Was arrested as well, put into Evin. And only recently in October, was released by the Iranians on medical grounds. He's 86 years old the father.

BLACKWELL: Remarkable interview. Christiane, thank you for bringing it to us.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ukrainian military officials say at least 11 people are dead after a massive Russian missile attack. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says several regions were bombarded by more than 80 missiles. And the Russians targeted critical infrastructure, several residential buildings. People in Kyiv called the attack savage.


IGOR YEZHOV, KYIV RESIDENT (through translator): It's hard to say. It doesn't make sense to me, how this can be in the 21st century. They are some kind of wild people, just savages.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Military officials warn that the threat is not over. CNN's

Melissa Bell is in Kharkiv, one of the targeted areas. Melissa, tell us what you're seeing there.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not a great deal, Victor. But this is a city that's entirely in the dark ever since these missile strikes overnight. 15 of them landed here in Kharkiv region, targeting that infrastructure. So essentially people are without electricity, heat, water, and that is the point of these attacks.

We've just been hearing from an adviser to President Zelenskyy saying that these attacks are actually about reminding people inside Ukraine -- but those might have fled as well -- that nowhere is safe. We haven't had these kind of strikes in about a month, so we had been expecting a fresh round of these attacks and that's what happening.


Most worrying, said the adviser, where the six Kinzhal missiles had made it through that eluded Ukraine's air defense systems of the more than 80 missiles, you mentioned. About more than 30 were intercepted and stopped. There were also the Shahed drones, Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, six of them made it through.

And the point is, although they were ballistic missiles, they are nuclear capable. And that's why Ukraine at this stage is anxiously urging the West to do more to help with its air defense systems, because we haven't really seen them use that much. In the very beginning of the war, we saw them using again HIMARS hypersonic missiles, and it's taken all this time to be used again. They are extremely expensive but of course, extremely dangerous. And this now is the concern of Ukrainians -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: So, what's happening with the fighting in the east? Explain what's happening today there.

BELL: That's right. I mean, this is an attempt to scare people around the country, to show nowhere is safe. But of course, the majority of the fighting, there was intense fighting we have been seeing over the course of the last weeks, is along that frontline. Once again, Bakhmut hit hard, but at other points to the north of that in places like Lyman and Kupiansk. They are trying to push that front line westward. And that tells you that beyond the nationwide strikes that we saw -- and we've been hearing the air raid sirens here tonight that may continue for a second night -- there is a determined effort along that frontline to put as much pressure on Ukrainian forces as they can -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Melissa Bell for us from Kharkiv, thanks so much.

The families of the two Americans who were abducted and killed in Mexico are eagerly waiting for the return of their remains to the U.S. What's next in the investigation, we have details.



BLACKWELL: The bodies of the two Americans killed in Mexico are expected to be back if the U.S. sometime today. Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were kidnapped at gun point and killed in the city of Matamoros. Now their remains will be driven to Brownsville, Texas for a second autopsy. The two other Americans who survived the kidnapping are also in Brownsville. And that's where we find CNN's Rosa Flores. So, authorities are still learning and slowly releasing details of what happened here. What have you learned today?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are learning more about what happened in the hours and in the days after the kidnapping. And this is according to Mexican authorities. They say that they found, and law enforcement in Mexico, found a clinic where the Americans were given first aid, and also they seized an ambulance that was used to transport the Americans to that clinic.

Now it's important to note there are private ambulance services in Mexico, and there's also these clandestine clinics. Now one important note is that Mexican authorities are saying that no one was arrested at any of these locations. Whether it was where they found the ambulance or the clinic or both. No one has been arrested. So, so far, the only individual that has been arrested is that 24-year-old from Matamoros, Mexico who was arrested when the Americans were found on the outskirts of the city of Matamoros by this wooden house.

Now, normally when there is a high profile case like this one that involves Americans, Mexico usually responds by sending troops to the border, to show some sort of force on the border. And that's exactly what we are seeing right now. Mexico announcing that hundreds of soldiers have been deployed, including 200 Mexican army soldiers and 100 Mexican National Guard members to this area. And again, that's what we normally see. They're expected to be here in the area of Matamoros, Mexico.

Now where I am right now, and what you see behind me is an international crossing between Brownsville and Matamoros. And what we are expecting, Victor, in the next few hours is for the repatriation of the two Americans who died. So what we are expecting to see a caravan that will cross from Matamoros into Brownsville, and that caravan is expected to head directly to a funeral home here in Brownsville.

What's going to happen after that is a second autopsy. And Victor, quite frankly, that second autopsy will be the independent account that the U.S. government will have about what happened to these Americans. It will be an independent cause and manner of death and toxicology reports.

Quite frankly, it will be the closest that they will get to an independent verification of what happened so they don't have to rely on forensics for that -- to Mexican authorities who conducted the first autopsy on these two Americans. But again, right now we're waiting for is a repatriation of these two Americans. And I should add, that the two other survivors are not too far from here in a hospital still receiving treatment -- Victor. BLACKWELL: All right, Rosa Flores for us there in Brownsville. Thank

you, Rosa.

Today, leaders in Louisville are vowing to make changes after the Justice Department released that scathing report about the city's police department. The report says that officers routinely used excessive force and aggressive style of policing, and unreasonable tactics against Black people.

The city's mayor and interim police chief they spoke with our team on CNN this morning about the report.



INTERIM CHIEF GWINN VILLAROEL, LOUISIANA METRO POLICE: We're not waiting, we're not stopping, we're moving aggressively ahead. Because let me say this, whether the DOJ was here or not, we should be a premiere department. We should be a department that the citizens of Louisville can be proud of. And guess what? For us internally, to be proud of ourselves. So no, we're not waiting. We're moving forward.

MAYOR CRAIG GREENBERG (D) LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: As the Department of Justice themselves said, the vast majority of our officers are good and honorable people who are in their public service roles for the right reasons. That are doing their job, working to keep everyone safe. An so, we're building on that with that team.


BLACKWELL: Well, the DOJ launched this probe after the botched no- knock warrant and search that killed Breonna Taylor. Next week marks three years since her death.

Tiger Woods' ex-girlfriend is suing him for $30 million. She claims that he kicked her out of their home. And that's not the only accusation that she's leveling. Details ahead.



BLACKWELL: Tiger Woods is facing two lawsuits filed by his ex- girlfriend Erica Herman. One is an attempt to nullify their NDA. The other is trying to get money from Tiger's trust. CNN's Jean Casarez is following this for us. Jean, what's the story, what's going on here?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this has to do with their relationship. Now legal documents say they were together for six years. They broke up in October. He asked her to break up, and he asked her to leave the house, according to the defense.

Well, she is saying no, no, no. I had an agreement that I could continue living in the home. It was an oral tendency agreement that I actually negotiated with the trust representatives because the home is in a trust. And he is saying, I invited you into the home to live there with me, but when we broke up, I uninvited you, and I asked you to leave.

Now, she's going on to say, and she's asking for in excess of $30 million in all of this. She's also stating that one, she was still living in the house, that they actually took her belongings out -- she was gone. They took her belongings out. They told her that she needed to pack her bags that she had to take a trip. And so, she went to the airport. At the airport, they said you are now locked out, you are not wanted in the home anymore, you can't go back to that home. They had attorneys. And these are the trust representatives to help her negotiate a deal so that she wouldn't be left without a home.

But she's saying they also misappropriated $40,000 of her cash. Now, that's the first lawsuit right there.

The second one is, because the defense was saying there is a known disclosure agreement, this has to go within that. There is arbitration. It is confidential. You signed it in 2017, and she is saying nope, nope, with this second suit just filed. She is saying this should be null and void because of two statutes -- the ending forced arbitration of sexual assault and sexual harassment act of 2021, and the Federal Speak Out Act.

She's not saying anything else, but federal law says if you have allegations of sexual abuse, you can't do it in this secretive, nondisclosure agreement environment. Now that's where we are at this point. But in the initial suit, she had to mark a box, is this anything to do with sexual abuse? It was "no." so between October and now, that "no" has become a yes, and what this means we don't know.

BLACKWELL: So, OK, let me try to understand this. She wants to stay in the home, although they're not together. And Tiger and his kids still live in their home.

CASAREZ: That's what the defense is saying in their filings, yes, that they still live in the home.

BLACKWELL: So, what's next?

CASAREZ: Well, what's next is to have a response to this NDA issue right here, to see if it still has to stay within. Because she says in her filings that she's got a lot of things she wants out. She's got some recordings of herself. She has things she's told friends. She had some written things she wants out, and she wants this out of the NDA. The defense is saying this is a lot of gamesmanship going on right here, and this is not right.

BLACKWELL: Jean Casarez, thank you so much.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Californians who are still digging out from last week's deadly snowstorms are now bracing for a massive rainstorm that could unleash widespread flooding. Scientists call it an atmospheric river threat. The rain could melt the snow stacks and then cause even more structural damage. Several counties, we're talking more than 17 million people are under flood watches. Let's go to CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray. Jen, explain more of this atmospheric river and what's coming.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. We have another atmospheric river event. These are basically what we've seen this entire season, where we had just incredible amounts of moisture pointed at the state of California. It's brought rain, very heavy snow. The problem now is, we have so much snow in even some of the lower elevations, with the next system, that heavy rain is going to fall on top of areas that currently have snow.

And so, what we can see is a very rapid snow melt across some of the lower elevations. We are going to have very, very high winds with this system that will result in power outages. And we also have that storm threat for the higher elevations will get snow, and you can see all across portions of, say the Pacific Northwest, winter storm alerts there, as well.


So, here is the deal. You can see these clouds stretching all the way back through the Pacific, almost to Hawaii. So, this is the moisture source, and this is what's pulling all of this rain into California. And you can see it's just going to drive in throughout the rest of the week, on into the weekend. And then by the time we get into next week, we could see several more.

So all of these impacts are just going to compound each other. You can see the rainfall coming in. This is a live radar, San Francisco, Sacramento. We see snow for the Sierra. The higher elevations definitely getting snow. But we could see several inches of rain and we could see up to seven feet of snow, Victor. So, this is going to be an impactful snow system over the next several days.

BLACKWELL: Seven feet of snow. Not what they need right now, obviously. Jen Gray, thanks so much.

And "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts after a short break.