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Multiple Dead In Shooting At A Jehovah's Witness Center In Germany; Russia Shifts Tactics With Deadly Missile Strikes on Ukraine; 3 Wounded In Shooting Attack In Israel's Tel Aviv, Palestinian Gunman Killed; Xi Awarded 3rd Term As China's President, Extending Rule; Interview with Siamak Namazi, American Detained in Iran's Evin Prison; Harry and Meghan's Children Listed as Prince and Princess. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 01:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all over the world. I'm Anna Coren live from Hong Kong and this is CNN Newsroom.

Well just ahead, impossible to intercept Russian missiles so intense that Ukraine physically cannot shoot them down. Why they're using them now.

Unprecedented. Christiane Amanpour conversation with an American hostage being held in Iran's most notorious prison.

And its official, say hello to the prince and princess of Sussex.

But we begin in Hamburg, Germany where police are investigating a deadly shooting at a Jehovah's Witness center. Beliefs were seen entering the three storey building with guns drawn. According to local media, six people were killed and seven others wounded. Authorities say it's not clear whether the shooter is among the dead.

According to police an event was taking place at the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall at the time of the attack, which is believed to be an isolated incident. There is no word yet on the motive. We will bring you more information when it becomes available.

Kyiv says Russia is switching tactics and it strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure. Moscow unleashed what's been called an unprecedented barrage of missiles and drones across Ukraine on Thursday. The attacks left at least six people dead and more than 20 wounded.

Ukraine says the power is now back on in most regions that initially lost it. Kyiv also says Moscow use a new tactic this time, firing different types of missiles and drones at the same time hoping to overwhelm Ukraine's air defenses, or that included some missiles that Ukraine cannot shoot down such as Russia's hypersonic Kinzel weapon. Despite all that President Zelenskyy says his nation is still standing.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have already shown what Ukraine is capable of. And no matter how treacherous Russia's actions are our state and people will not be in chains. Neither missiles nor Russia's atrocities will help them.


COREN: The Russian attacks have infuriated the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant temporarily lost its connection to the power grid during the strikes. The plant needs external power to cool its nuclear reactors and prevent a possible melt down. Backup generators kicked in during the interruption before the connection was restored. But the nuclear watchdogs chief says the risk for a potential disaster is unacceptable.


RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: This is the largest nuclear power station in Europe, operating for the sixth time under emergency diesel generators. I am astonished by the complacency. Yes, the complacency. What are we doing to prevent this from happening?

We are the IAEA. We are meant to care about nuclear safety. Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time, then one day our luck will run out.


COREN: A closer look now in Russia's unprecedented array of missile strikes against Ukraine. CNN's Alex Marquardt has this report.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Firefighters frantically looking for survivors, as others clear the debris from an overnight missile strike in Ukraine's Western Lviv region.

This Russian missile was destroyed by air defenses, but falling fragments started a fire that destroyed at least three residential buildings and left at least five people dead. According to local authorities, the residents were at home, the victims of Russia's latest terrorizing country wide missile and drone attacks far from the front lines.

This is horrible. I don't know what to say this man said, calling Russians the devil. All across Ukraine, 84 missiles were fired and eight drones launched at 10 different regions from Lviv in the West to Kherson in the south all the way to Donetsk in the East.

In the capital of Kyiv at least three people were injured. These cars burned out from more burning fragments.

For the first time Ukraine was bombarded with many different types of missiles, according to a spokesman for the Air Force.


It was a range of cruise missiles launched from the air and sea, including six hypersonic missiles, as well as guided missiles and two types of Iranian made kamikaze drones. All told at least 11 Ukrainians were killed in more than 20 wounded.

On Facebook, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia's strikes and attempt to intimidate Ukrainians again returning to their miserable tactics. The occupiers can only terrorize that's all they can do, but it won't help them.

Ukrainian officials describe the wave of attacks as yet another strike on the country's critical infrastructure. Power was affected in several areas, including at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which had to switch to diesel generators before power was restored.

The Air Force said 34 missiles and half of the drones were shot down. But several of the types of Russian missiles fired can't be taken down with Ukraine's current air defenses, which the Biden administration says they're working to bolster.

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Certainly, we see that there is a real air defense need. And that's why we're trying to focus on the kinds of air defense capabilities short and medium range that the Ukrainians really could use to help knock down some of these missiles.


COREN: Cedric Leighton is a CNN military analyst and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. He joins us now from Washington with more. Colonel, great to have you with us.

This is the largest aerial barrage launched by Russia in weeks targeting infrastructure all over Ukraine, did this catch Ukrainians by surprise?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MIITARY ANALYST: I don't think so, Anna. I think it was expected, the Russians would do something like this, that they would certainly try to target the infrastructure again. And the one thing that was perhaps a bit of a surprise was the scope of the attack, the fact that it extended through the breadth and depth of the entire country, affecting cities, from Lviv to Odessa to Kharkiv to Kyiv.

I ended that very fact. You know, perhaps a caught them a bit off guard, but also the Ukrainians knew that most of their weapons systems weren't capable of defending against cruise missiles. And of course, you know, any other type of missile such as the Kinzhal missile.

COREN: Yet, let's talk about Russia's hypersonic missiles, the Kinzhal missiles, they travel at more than five times the speed of sound. They're virtually impossible for Ukraine to intercept. Will Russia continue to use them? And more of them? LEIGHTON: Well, I think it depends on how much the Russians actually have in terms of their stockpiling hypersonic missiles. So it's definitely possible that the Russians will try to use more of them. The question, of course, that you have to ask is, how long can they do this? And it seems to me that at some point, they're going to run out of them. They don't have that many, as far as we know. And they're extremely expensive to produce, and extremely expensive to maintain.

So in many ways, it seems like a waste. Just someone who's looking at this from the outside, it seems like a waste for them to use these missiles on targets like the ones in Ukraine.

COREN: I want to ask you that, because if they have such a limited supply of what is their most sophisticated weapon, why would Russia be expanding its strategic reserves right now?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think the answer might be that they don't have any other alternative at this point. Their ground forces aren't moving the goalposts at all, the front lines have not moved, you know, for any, you know, for any appreciable amount over the last few months.

And the other thing that you have to look at, I think, is the fact that the Russians are running low on standard ammunition, things like the 152 millimeter artillery rounds, things that they normally wouldn't be using. They're running out of those plus their tank forces have been depleted. So the only thing that they seem to have going for them is hypersonic missiles like the Kinzhal.

COREN: I want to ask you about the battle of Bakhmut. Russia claims to have seized the eastern side of the city. Ukrainians are disputing that saying that there will be no Russian victory of this city. What is the reality on the ground from what you can decipher and tell us the strategic importance of this battle?

LEIGHTON: Yes, so the strategic importance of Bakhmut is basically in the minds of both the Ukrainian and the Russians at this point, when you look at it, you know, as a non-Ukrainian or non-Russian observer, you don't see that much in the way of strategic point here at this juncture of, of you know, the forces that are fighting right now.


One of the key elements that is near Bakhmut is a highway known as the MO3. I that highway does go from Donbas region all the way to Kharkiv and from Kharkiv to Kyiv. So in that sense that highway is a bit of a strategic asset. But it is not something that would be worth fighting for at this particular juncture because they can do -- Ukrainians can put up defensive barriers, just west of Bakhmut and protect their forces.

So from that standpoint, the value of Bakhmut is more symbolic than anything else. And the reason that both forces seem to be fighting in this area is precisely for that that symbolism. The Russians want to have a victory anytime, at any cost. The Ukrainians want to make sure that they don't give an inch of territory and the result has been the savage slavery at Bakhmut. COREN: Colonel Cedric Leighton, great to have your insight. Thank you so much for your time.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Anna. Thank you so much.

COREN: Rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians fled again late Thursday, this time in downtown Tel Aviv entertainment district, a 23-year-old Palestinian man was fatally shot by police after he opened fire on pedestrians wounding three Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it terrorism. Hamas claims responsibility and said it was in retaliation for the earlier killings by Israeli police of three Palestinians in the West Bank.

Against this backdrop of escalating violence is a growing wave of Israeli anger towards the government.

At issue is sweeping legislation that would, among other things, allow Supreme Court decisions to be overturned by a simple majority in parliament. It's so unpopular that even Israel's president is demanding the government reverse course. We get the latest now from CNN's Hadas Gold in Tel Aviv.


HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Protesters in Israel taking their days of disruption to Israel's main airport Wednesday, for 10 weeks now. Tens of thousands coming up to the streets against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to weaken the judiciary and give Israeli politicians unprecedented power to overturn Supreme Court decisions.

Passengers forced to drag their suitcases so it's not to miss their flights. It's vampy grants walking more than half a mile to the terminal, saying he understood the protesters' point of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's when you're fighting for what is right you need to fight and diamonds.

GOLD: Among the demonstrators whom are fighter pilots who said they wouldn't heed the call to serve a government they believe is hurting democracy.

EYAL CARMON, FORMER ISRAELI FIGTHER POILOT: It's more important to free country than to catch a plane.

GOLD (on camera): The protesters here at the airport slowing down traffic to the entrance trying to disrupt not only Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned trip to Italy, but also affecting U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's arrival. The Pentagon saying Israeli officials asked the Defense Secretary's team to push back and alter his schedule instead of him meeting with officials in Tel Aviv. Instead, he's arriving here to this airport and immediately going through a complex right next to the airport meeting with officials and then flying out. GOLD (voiceover): In an unusual move, Austin wading into the judicial reforms debate while standing alongside the Israeli Defense Minister.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions on checks and balances and on an independent judiciary. And the President also noted that building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them so they can be sustained.

GOLD: Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv protesters blocking traffic along the main highway. Chanting shame democracy before dozens of police including mounted officers push them off. Organizers vowing they'll continue taking to the streets until the planned judicial changes are stopped just like the traffic on this highway. Hadas Gold, CNN, Tel Aviv.


COREN: Protesting purchases in Georgia are not going away quietly even as the ruling party has withdrawn a controversial foreign agent's bill. Some are calling for early elections while others want government reforms that will help move Georgia toward membership in the European Union.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry says it has released all the demonstrators detained this week. And Georgia's President congratulated protesters on what she called an important victory.



SALOME ZOURABICHIVILI, GEORGIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I commend the authorities for taking the right decision to revoke this law. They recognize the true power of the people, the unity exhibited on Tbilisi streets with this move.


COREN: Well, China's National People's Congress has handed Xi Jinping and unprecedented third term as president. That makes him the longest serving head of Communist China since its founding in 1949. Xi was also named Chairman of the Central Military Commission. The unanimous votes were a formality. China's NPC is a highly choreographed event meant to demonstrate the legitimacy and unity of the country's political elite.

Well, US President Joe Biden is dismissing some sharp rebukes from his Chinese counterpart. Reporters asked what he his thoughts were about claims from Xi Jinping that the U.S. is adopting a dangerously aggressive posture around the world. Mr. Biden replied, not much.

The Chinese president said this week that Washington's policy had become one of containment in circumvent (ph) and suppression against China. Well, Mexico's president is lashing out at Republicans over a proposal that would give the U.S. new power to fight Mexican drug cartels on both sides of the border. Well, that's after two American tourists who kidnapped and killed by cartel members. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Mexico is not a colony of the U.S. and called the proposal disrespectful.


ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are not going to allow any foreign government to intervene, much less the armed forces of the foreign government to intervene in our territory.


COREN: By the U.S. Senate Republicans as drug cartels have been terrorizing Americans for decades, and need to be taken down. He threatened to unleash the quote, fury and might of the U.S. against the cartels if Mexico doesn't do more to stop them.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: What's offensive to me is for him to not take decisive action against a common problem. For he's lost control of a large part of Mexico to narco terrorist. People in Mexico are living in fear. My country is being poisoned. So I don't care if he's offended or not, I want him to up his game. Business as usual is not going to continue.


COREN: Well, meanwhile, the Gulf Cartel thought to be responsible for the kidnapping of the Americans last week, as reportedly issued an apology letter and handed over five of its members to Mexican authorities. Well, that's according to images posted online and an official familiar with the investigation. CNN cannot confirm any of that. CNN's Rosa Flores has this update on the victims.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): All four of the Americans who were kidnapped are back on U.S. soil. The two Americans who were injured have been in the United States since Tuesday getting medical attention. The other two Americans, the Americans who were killed, were returned to the United States late on Thursday. There was a caravan of vehicles that crossed from Matamoros to Brownsville, Texas that carried their caskets they were taken to a funeral home. A second autopsy is expected.

This as we're learning more about the hours and the days after the kidnapping of these four Americans, Mexican authorities saying that they found a clinic where these Americans were given first aid and that they also seized an ambulance that was used to transport the Americans to that clinic.

It's important to note that in Mexico, there are private ambulance services and that there are also clandestine clinics in the area.

Now, we're also learning from Mexican authorities that Mexico has sent hundreds of troops to this area to secure the border. According to Mexican authorities that includes 200 Mexican army soldiers and 100 National Guard members, all this is a source within the state AG's office telling CNN that this is still an ongoing investigation and that they're investigating all angles. Rosa Flores, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.


COREN: Trail derailments in the U.S. continue to dominate the headlines with another freight train jumping the tracks in Alabama those details and the latest on the toxic train investigation in Ohio when we return.

Plus, California getting bombarded again with extreme weather first ferocious snowfalls. Now torrential rain and more flood. Stay tune.



COREN: Welcome back. Well, now to the U.S. state of California where more than 16 million people are under flood threats. The Weather Prediction Center says the excessive rainfall outlook for parts of the state is a level four of four.

An atmospheric river event is expected bringing heavy rains that in some places could trigger melting of mountain snow. Some parts of the state have already issued evacuation warnings. For more. Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek this sounds very concerning.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Anna, you know, the Weather Prediction Center really upping the ante overnight for this excessive rain issuing their highest alert level. This is the last and the last time they've done this was 2010. So that kind of puts it into context, that's in and around the Monterey County region. They're focusing in on that location tonight as being the most prone to flash flooding.

But look at how that slides further south into San Luis Obispo and the central Sierra Nevada mountain range.

We explain to you why this is important. Remember all the various atmospheric river events we've talked about so far this winter? Well, they've all been cold storms. They've dumped copious amounts of snow that have literally buried homes and vehicles but this storm is different because of its tropical connections.

You can trace all the way back to south of Hawaii. This plume of moisture there it is in the satellite loop you can see all the cloud cover and that streams right into the state of California so this will be a milder storm, meaning that's going to produce rain on top of that impressive snowpack. You see just a moment ago.

Christmas tree or the radar lighting up like a Christmas tree. There will still be snow across the highest elevations but this will be more of a rain event throughout the Central Valley all the way to the coastline. Big Sur in particular look out for the potential of flash flooding. And with this rain falling on top of that deep snowpack rapid snowmelt will lead to flash flooding, landslides, and mudslides through the course of the weekend with yet another storm waiting in its wings. Anna.

COREN: Derek, we appreciate the update. Thank you.


COREN: Another Norfolk Southern train derailed on Thursday, this time in rural Calhoun County Alabama. Officials said it was not carrying hazardous materials, and there are no reports of injuries. Official said 37 cars went off the tracks and the cleanup will resume after a National Transportation Safety Board team clears the scene.

It comes more than a month after another Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous material derailed Near East Palestine, Ohio. Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw testified before a Senate hearing on Thursday to address environmental and public health threats from the derailment. He apologized but sparred with some senators.


ED MARKEY, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: When you say do the right thing, will you again compensate these families for their diminished lost property value for homes and small businesses?

ALA SHAW, CEO, NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY: Senator, we've already committed $21 million and that's a down payment.

MARKEY: Will you commit to ensuring that these families, these innocent families do not lose their life savings in their homes and small businesses, the right thing to do is to say, yes, we will.


SHAW: Senator, I'm committed to doing what's right for the community. And we're going to be there --

MARKEY: No, what's right for the --


COREN: Well, according to the Ohio EPA, more than 4 million gallons of liquid waste, and nearly 3,000 tons of solid waste have been removed from the derailment site in East Palestine.

Well, violence in Haiti is forcing the temporary closure of some hospitals in the country, even when operated by Doctors Without Borders. As CNN's Patrick Oppmann explains, doctors say they're unable to work under the current conditions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The decision by Doctors Without Borders to suspend their operations in this clinic indication capital of Port-au-Prince is particularly chilling, because, of course, this is an aid group that is known for operating in war torn countries and places that was the situation is particularly desperate.

But what Doctors Without Borders has told CNN is that this clinic in the city Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, a neighborhood that has long been known, it's been with the most dangerous in the city, that has simply deteriorated. That is not a question of gang violence of crime. It is an all-out war that described other clinics as being on the front line of this award that is going on between rival gangs. They say that they've had patients are targeted as they've tried to go to the clinic that is not safe, that there have been stray bullets that have hit their clinic, and simply for the time being, at least, that they cannot continue to provide medical services in this part of the Haitian capital.

And that will mean for the hundreds of thousands of people that live in Soleil that they will not have access, many of them at least to any medical services. Because this is one of the -- we are told one of the few clinics that is operating in this part of Port-au-Prince.

And what that will mean as the gang violence has gotten worse and worse over the last several months is that the aid groups that provide these very basic services because these are services the government in many parts of Haiti is not able to provide and they will simply become unavailable to many the Haitians who desperately need the services and Haitian government has called on the international community to provide more assistance to the Haitian police to combat these gangs.

And there has been assistance by the part of several foreign governments but what the Haitian government has asked for actual pour military boots on the ground has not come -- a few countries, no countries at this point, seem to be willing to provide that.

So as Haiti, the situation gets worse and worse for the people on the ground, Haitians that are trying to go to work, trying to go to their school or trying to just receive medical attention. Those things are going to become harder and harder as the gangs who have increasingly the upper hand over the government. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


COREN: Much more to come on CNN including an exclusive conversation with an American citizen held in an Iranian prison for more than seven years. His personal plea to the U.S. president.


SIAMAK NAMAZI, IRAN'S LONGEST-HELD AMERICAN PRISONER: President Biden, you and you alone have the power to deliver an Obama administration's broken promise to my family.



ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: 51-year-old Siamak Namazi is an Iranian U.S. national with dual citizenship arrested in 2015 while on a business trip to Iran. He has now been held in Iranian detention longer than any other American.

He spoke by phone from the notorious Evin Prison exclusively with CNN's Christiane Amanpour and made a plea to the U.S. President to ramp up efforts to secure his release.

Here is their conversation.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Siamak Namazi, it's a rare, rare thing to hear from somebody inside Evin Prison. Can I start by asking you to state your name and where you are actually talking to us from?

SIAMAK NAMAZI, IRANIAN AMERICAN IMPRISONED IN IRAN (via telephone): Hi. My name is Siamak Namazi. And this call is being made from ward 4 of Evin Prison in Tehran.

AMANPOUR: Siamak, It's a long, long time since we last spoke when we met in Iran and I want to say that this is very, very unusual to speak to somebody inside Evin Prison. Why are you speaking to us in this way? Why are you speaking out now?

NAMAZI: Well, Christiane first, it's good to hear your voice as well after so many years, directly and not on a recording that someone is playing back for me.

I think the very fact that I have 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 have been a hostage for seven and a half years now. That is six times the duration of a 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 and 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. I'm clearly nervous. Just like it's odd for you, it's very intimidating for me to do this. I feel I need to be heard. I don't know how long I have to wait before the White House understands that we need action. And not just to be told that bringing us out is a priority.


AMANPOUR: Siamak, let me follow up on that because you did write an op-ed that was published in the "New York Times" in the summer in which you said that the Biden administration's approach to rescuing Americans in distress in Iran has failed spectacularly so far.

And you've recently gone on a, I believe, one-week hunger strike to draw attention. Tell me what you mean by failed spectacularly so far?

NAMAZI: Correct. I mean seven and a half years in and I'm still in Evin Prison. Look I believe that the U.S. with all its power as the biggest superpower in the world has a great amount of leverage and I believe that had that leverage been properly used we would have been out a long time ago I think what is clear is the following that the three of us, Emad, Morad and I are hostages in Iran we have not so much as jaywalked.

We've been taken for one reason and one reason only and that's because we're U.S. citizens. And the flipside of that is we only released through a with the U.S. You know, all I could do is repeat that seven and a half years, six-time the hostage crisis -- what is it going to take?

AMANPOUR: Well, I'm going -- I'm going to try to ask you about that, you know, what is it going to take but first you are one of three Americans in Evin. They are detained on so-called charges of espionage but you are not, you are detained and sentence on other charges. Do you have any --

NAMAZI: Sorry, I need o correct you on that. We all have the same charge. We are all charged under section 508 which is a very nebulous charge of cooperating with a hostile state. in our case referring to the United States of America.

None of us have had access, I'll just speak for myself though that we are ordinary citizens we don't have access to any classified information to give to anyone which is why we were charged with Section 508, cooperating with a hostile state, you're very free to ask details about that.

AMANPOUR: Yes. I want to know whether you are in the same location as the other Americans, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi?

NAMAZI: Yes, I currently am. We haven't always been, all three of us were at the same detention sector, at different times, obviously. I was taken two years, and two and a half years respectively before Morad and Emad, but today we are all at the same place.

AMANPOUR: And do you hope to all be released together?

NAMAZI: Absolutely. I know what it feels like to be left behind and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. We're all in this together and I hope that a solution is found for all of us together.

AMANPOUR: Siamak, you wrote this letter to President Biden recently and I am going to quote a little bit from it. "Day after day, I ignore the intense pain that I always carry with me. And do my best to fight this grave injustice. All I want sir, is one minutes of your day's time for the next seven days, devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the U.S. hostages in Iran."

Did you get any personal response to that letter Siamak?

NAMAZI: I've never had any response. This is what makes things particularly painful. President Biden has been in office for 25 months now. You have to excuse me, this is hard.

AMANPOUR: I know it's hard.

NAMAZI: It's hard to explain. President Biden has been office for 25 months now. (INAUDIBLE) the White House declares that we are a priority. In 12 months the president hasn't so much as made a time available to meet with our families, just to hear them out and offer them some words of comfort. But no, I have not heard anything.

I don't know what I actually have to do in order to get some comfort from the Biden administration.


AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about your own physical, you use the word "comfort", I want to know how you are being treated if you can, how is every day life for you there? How do you get through the days in Evin?

NAMAZI: Right. Look, there is only so much I'm comfortable saying on CNN about this.


NAMAZI: But I think the short answer is that I've always been made to feel that my very humanity has been taken away from me not just my freedom. Today I'm in the general ward, the situation in the general ward is far better than in the corner hell that used to be in at the detention center.

It's far from a pleasant place to be in, but everything becomes relative. It's still extremely difficult the very basic fact that I am denied many of the rights of a prisoner because I am a hostage.

I don't know how to convey that. I see hardened criminals. I see member of Dash. I see people who are human traffickers have more rights than I do.

And I dk. So yes general circumstances in the general ward are ok and I would say that we do the best that we can to adapt to our circumstances. I personally take comfort to use that word again, the fact that I know that I am doing everything I can to fight this injustice.

I want to say that my situation today is very different than the first 27 months of my arrest when I was still being held at the detention center. There my situation was really precarious. I did not feel safe at all.

And I want to mention that the Obama administration knew exactly, exactly how unsafe I was. I make sure of that. At that point I could see that my captors had made it a mission to strip me of any semblance of human decency. I spent months caged. I spent months caged in a solitary cell. It was the size of a closet, sleeping on the floor, being fed like a dog from under the door.

And honestly, that was the least of my troubles. And to this day -- I'm sorry. I didn't realize this was going to happen.

AMANPOUR: Siamak, you are under extreme duress.

NAMAZI: I'm really sorry. It's so hard for me. I suppose the positive side is someday some therapist is going to make a bit of money out of this. Ok.

AMANPOUR: You are able to make these quips. And there is some positivity to hear that you are still robust and you still have your strength. I want to ask you --

NAMAZI: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask about the other Americans because what you've said is that you just don't understand why you have been left behind, particularly over a period of years in which other Americans have been released in deals between Iran and the United States.

There was a release in 2016, around the Iranian nuclear deal, including Jason Rezaian, the journalist. Then again in 2019 and 2020. Each time you were left behind. Do you know why? Do you know why you were not included in that group?

NAMAZI: No. I've been imprisoned all this time. Obviously I'm not in touch with U.S. officials now I have served prison time, interestingly enough with some people who were on the other side of the negotiation table during that 2016 hostage situation with the U.S. They also tell me that the Americans did not push very hard.

Why? That's a question that I really would love for you to ask Secretary Kerry someday. And I should tell you that it wasn't just that they left me behind. Obviously, when that happened, I was completely devastated, shattered, and despondent. As a hostage you only cling on to one thing when I'm there were in that closet-type room all alone there was one thing I held as truth and that is that the U.S. government was fighting to release me.

And then, you know, one day I realize everyone is gone and I am left there alone. So this is worse than the fear that political prisoners have that they'll be forgotten. I was being abandoned by the U.S. government at a time they knew -- they knew how dangerous my situation was.


NAMAI: I don't know how to convey that at the time I understood that the Obama administration had left me, that they essentially, they didn't get me out of danger but they essentially handed me an IOU. Secretary Kerry promised my family that the U.S. government will have me out within a week.

Obviously seven years later now, this was the occasion of my seventh anniversary was the reason for my hunger strike to remind them of that promise that just didn't happen. Not only was I not released but, you know, those weeks passed by and one day all of a sudden I get called into the interrogation room and I was cudgeled with a video clip showing my ailing father wearing prisoners garb and a blindfold in one of the other interrogation rooms.

No, I would love to know what happened, I just know that I was abandoned. I know I was promised that the U.S. government would release me, weeks later it seems like you know, three weeks -- I'm perpetually three weeks away from the freedom that is permanently elusive.

AMANPOUR: It must be so, so, so, so hard for you I can't even imagine. You mentioned your father. Of course he was arrested and he, as you say, an elderly retired UNICEF official, when he actually came to try to visit you in prison.

He was imprisoned for two years following that, prevented from leaving the country for five years until he was finally released this past October.

And you then were given a furlough, a brief furlough to see him before he was allowed to leave the country. You were not allowed to leave.

I guess I just want to know how it felt when you are able to see him, that you could see him at least going to safety and whether you hope and think he will be reunited?

NAMAZI: If you want to get me bawling, talk about my dad. Every father can be his son's hero. Mine certainly is. My dad is my hero. How could he not be? He spent his entire life going to far corners of the world to the poorest, most dangerous possible places to save children. How could I not completely be enamored with this man.

And when it comes down to it, to this day, I carry tremendous guilt that it was my choice to come for a four-day trip to Tehran and I got arrested. And as you said my father got lured back and tricked and arrested because of me.

So there is tremendous guilt, 7 to 9 years old, a human rights medal- winner of the United Nations tossed into the floor in the solitary cell somewhere and interrogated harshly then handed a ten-year prison sentence which at his age and with his ailments, that was a death sentence which we got way too close for it to happen.

I mean he was -- from that detention center you know he was ambulanced to the hospital several times. He had several heart surgeries including getting a pacemaker made so he was really in bad shape.

Yes seeing him finally leave, it's a huge, huge burden lifted off my very guilty shoulders. Of course I know who arrested him and I know that it is not my fault that there are cruel people who take, arbitrarily arrest a 79-year-old man and treat him that way. But the fact is he came for me, but yes you mentioned that I got furlough by Iranian law, I'm owed something over 100 days by the strictest interpretations, my rights which are being denied.


NAMAZI: But I am so grateful that for those ten days I was allowed to go and I have to acknowledge, it was October that Iran showed some long overdue humanity by lifting the illegal travel bans that they put on my father, my father was a free man by Iranian law with a travel ban that had absolutely no justification whatsoever. But still they lifted it.

We didn't know they were doing. that I was given furlough and then they came and told us, my dad was in disbelief he thought that -- he thought they were messing with him. He thought it's one of these game that they play that we're seeing, but it wasn't.

It was genuine. They allowed him to leave, to get to join the rest of our family and to receive the care that he needed for his life- threatening condition. For that I am deeply and sincerely grateful to those in power in Tehran. And I can only hope that they summon that same spirit of humanity to do what is needed on their parts so that the rest of us -- Morad, Emad and I -- can also be reunited with our families and to start putting this dark past behind this.

AMANPOUR: Siamak, we will get your message out to the world. And thank you for being so brave as to talk to us at this time.

NAMAZI: I would really appreciate it if I can also get a chance to address the president directly.

AMANPOUR: Go ahead.

NAMAZI: Honestly, I really need to be heard as I'm taking risk for this opportunity, so I hope you give it to me.

AMANPOUR: Go ahead, Siamak.

NAMAZI: Ok. President Biden, I certainly hear and I sincerely appreciate your administration's repeated declarations that freeing the American hostages in Iran is a top priority. But I remain deeply worried that the White House just doesn't appreciate how dire our situation has become.

It's also very hurtful and upsetting that after 25 months in office you haven't found the time to meet with our families, to 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 suffered long enough as Iran's hostages.

President Biden, you and you alone have the power to deliver an Obama administration's broken promise to my family. I implore you, sir to put the lives and liberty of innocent Americans above all the politics involved and to just do what is necessary to end this nightmare and bring us home. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: We will get that message out, Siamak. And I hope --

NAMAZI: Sorry.

AMANPOUR: -- we can talk again.

NAMAZI: I'm sorry.

AMANPOUR: Don't be sorry.

NAMAZI: Thank you for doing this.

AMANPOUR: Thank you for doing this.

NAMAZI: Take care.

AMANPOUR: You take care, Siamak.

NAMAZI: Bye-bye.

AMANPOUR: Bye-bye.

NAMAZI: Goodbye.


COREN: Well, CNN reached out to the Iranian and U.S. governments for comments. Tehran has not replied. But the White House gave us the following response. "Iran's unjust imprisonment and exploitation of U.S. citizens for use as political leverage is outrageous, inhumane and contrary to international norms. The United States will always stand up for the rights of our citizens wrongfully detained overseas including Siamak Namazi.

Senior officials from both the White House and the State Department meet and consult regularly with Namazi's family and we will continue to do so until this unacceptable detention ends and Siamak is reunited with his family."

Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.



COREN: (INAUDIBLE) that the children of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have big new roles. As CNN's Max Foster explains, they have been officially listed on the British royal Website as prince and princess.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Arch and Lilibet were never granted formal titles when they were born but they automatically became prince and princess when their grandfather King Charles became the monarch.

That's now being reflected on the official royal family Website, so that's how they are being known going forward on official correspondence.

Lilibet first used her royal title earlier this week when it was announced that Princess Lilibet has been christened in California. A spokesperson for the Sussexes told CNN the children's titles have been a birthright since their grandfather became monarch.

This matter has been settled for sometime in alignment with Buckingham Palace. So we can read into that that Charles gave his approval for them to use these titles. If he had objected he would have to change the law to stop them using it but there's no suggestion that he ever considered that.

Max Foster, CNN -- London.


COREN: The Oscar's traditional red carpet is no more. On Sunday, stars will enter the Academy Awards show on a champagne colored carpet.

According to the Motion Picture Academy the color is meant to create a day to night look. Oscar's host Jimmy Kimmel could not resist the temptation to crack a joke.


JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT HOST: I think this is great for if you're going to be (INAUDIBLE) violence this year, I certainly hope not. But if there is I think the decision to go with this champagne (INAUDIBLE) shows how confident we are that no blood will be shed.


COREN: Kimmel is referring to last year's infamous Oscar slap when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock for making a really bad joke about Smith's wife.

Thanks so much for watching and for your company. I'm Anna Coren.

Kim Brunhuber picks things up after a very short break. Stay with CNN.