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Recep Tayyip Erdogan Predicts He Will Emerge Victorious In Runoff; Volodymyr Zelenskyy Meets U.K. Rishi Sunak After Visiting Rome, Berlin And Paris; U.K. Pledges To Start Training Ukrainian Pilots; Hospitals In Khartoum Comes Under Attack; Family Mourns Palestinian Man Killed In Recent Violence; Special Counsel Questions FBI Decision to Launch Investigation into Trump-Russia Connections; U.S. Citizen Sentenced to Life in China for Espionage; Young Voters Catapult Opposition Parties to Victory in Thailand. Aired 12-12:45a ET
Aired May 16, 2023 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, Turkey set for its first ever presidential runoff. An election widely seen as a referendum on democracy.
Fighter jet diplomacy, a three day blitz of Europe by Ukraine's president entered billions of military aid and promises of fighter jet training for Ukrainian pilots.
Four years at 305 pages later, and a Trump era special counsel who reviewed the investigation into the former president and Russia has some sharp criticism for the FBI.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.
VAUSE: A weekend election which was widely considered to be a test of Turkey's democracy is not over yet, voters will head to the polls again in less than two weeks for the country's first ever presidential run off what appears to be the toughest challenge yet facing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his 20 years in power.
Well, Erdogan fell just short of the 50 percent threshold needed for outright victory. His support was much stronger than expected, given Turkey's current economic turmoil, rapid inflation and much criticism of the government's response to February's deadly earthquake.
And it seems Erdogan has the advantage over his rival that's leading opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. He leads a coalition of six political parties and if elected, has promised to move Turkey in a more secular direction.
Far right candidate Sinan Ogan received more than five percent of the vote and looks at to play Kingmaker in the runoff.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has our report.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to the streets of Istanbul, first a show of solidarity with their leader facing the toughest election of his 20 years in office that soon turned into a celebration.
For his diehard supporters, there is one man, one cause and one Turkey, that is Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
And in the early hours of Monday morning, Erdogan doing what he does best, rallying his supporters.
In the capital Ankara, their man emerged to address his voters from the balcony of his ruling party's headquarters, where he traditionally delivers his rousing victory speeches. This is no victory for the Turkish president, but certainly a win for now.
He failed to secure the 50 percent plus one vote majority to clinch a third term, but emerged with a clear lead over the main opposition candidate.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Currently the majority in parliament is in our people's Alliance. Therefore, we do not doubt that the choice of our nation which gave the majority in the parliament to our alliance will be in favor of trust and stability in the presidential election.
KARADSHEH (voice over): And the wind is behind Erdogan as Turkey now heads for a run off. But the opposition insisting they still can do this.
KEMAL KILICDAROGLU, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I am here, I am here, you are here too. I will fight until the end, I swear. And I know I will fight until the end, I am here.
KARADSHEH (voice over): It diverse opposition more united and more galvanize than ever thought this time would be different. They believe they could unseat Erdogan, that they could deliver change and deliver the promise of a return to a real democracy. A promise so many in this country so desperately wanted.
In two weeks time, Erdogan and opposition leader Kilicdaroglu will face off again. And this man Sinan Ogan could be the tiebreaker.
SINAN OGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We have certain red lines, such as fighting against terrorism and sending refugees back. We have voiced these conditions before.
KARADSHEH (voice over): Ogan's five percent of the electorate is a combination of disenchanted nationalists and protest votes of those who didn't like the opposition's choice of candidate but irked enough about Erdogan to deny him their support, at least in the first round. No election in this country's history has meant more for this divided
nation where the two competing visions of Turkey are locked in a duel. And it will be the Turkish people who will ultimately decide which leader and which vision will prevail.
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.
VAUSE: Gonul Tol is the founding director of the Middle East Institute's Turkey Programme, and author of Erdogan's War: A Strongman's Struggle At Home And In Syria. She is with us this hour from Washington. It's good to see you again.
GONUL TOL, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE'S TURKEY PROGRAMME: Thanks, John. Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: You're welcome. Now, last we spoke I think February, the earthquake had struck about a week earlier. We were talking about the government's response, which was way too slow, completely inadequate at the time and what impact that could have on this coming election.
And yes, it's a close result for Erdogan but his party dominated in the earthquake hit region. He went all but one of the 11 provinces. And you know, the vote was close for president. His party has this majority in parliament. And he's heading into this runoff in a very strong position.
So, what's your take on all this? How did he do so well, and what's likely to happen?
TOL: Well, you know, John, Turkey is not a democracy. It's become a competitive authoritarian regime, yet elections still matter, and the turnout was high. So, that means that people still believe, have faith in the electoral process.
But you know, autocracies like Turkey, especially in personalist autocracies where power is centralized in one man's hands, beating that autocrat through elections is a very tough challenge.
And remember Erdogan he used, he mobilized all state resources, used all the powers of an incumbent.
Basically, the opposition candidate received 32 minutes airtime on state broadcaster while Erdogan received 32 hours. So, the level -- the playing field was heavily tilted in favor of Erdogan.
VAUSE: With that in mind, I want you to listen to President Erdogan just after the results came in, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERDOGAN (through translator): they know that they are behind by a wide margin. And they are now saying that they are leading. Once again deceiving the public perhaps for the last time.
We are not like them, in front of our people, we have always been honest and sincere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Yes, he didn't say that. Election observers noted that the vote was competitive. There was no interference as such on Election Day.
Most of the problems they found happened long before Turks went to the polls, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL GEORG LINK, OSCE SPECIAL COORDINATOR: The incumbent and the ruling parties enjoyed an unjustified advantage, including through biased media coverage.
So, they're very genuine political alternatives, but limited by an unlevel playing field.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Is there any way to qualify or quantify what that unjustified advantage would be? Is it possible though it was worth like the five percent of the main opposition party fell short of needing to cross that 50 percent threshold?
TOL: Well, they did. Media is controlled by Erdogan. 90 percent of Turkish media is controlled by Erdogan, so he can spin the narrative however he wants.
After the earthquake, for instance, I was on the ground and I saw the frustration because of government's response. And yet, Erdogan because of the media under his control, changed the narrative saying that it was God's will, so he dominates the media environment inside and he controls institution.
So, that's I think -- and he also, our Turkish jails are full of Erdogan's political opponents. One of the most popular one is Selahattin Demirtas is the former co-chair of the Kurdish party. And in 2015, he challenged him.
And because of his success in 2015, Erdogan's party could not capture a parliamentary majority and he's been in jail ever since.
So, the playing field again was tilted heavily in his -- in his favor and he used state resources.
VAUSE: There is also another third place far right nationalist Sinan Ogan. Here he is, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OGAN (through translator): We don't have to give our support to either of the parties. There is no such rule. When we first started this race, we thought we need to either win the
government or we are going to be the kingmaker and we are at that status.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Which way his support is likely to go? Will he be the kingmaker?
TOL: He will be the kingmaker and probably in the next two weeks, both Erdogan and opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu will try to secure his support. But it's going to be very tricky because his support is not really consolidated in the sense that they -- it was many of the people who voted for Sinan Ogan, voted for him because they did not like any of the candidates. So it was protest votes.
So, the trick is going to be whether he will be able to mobilize his entire base to vote for one candidate or the other. And one of the key takeaways from this election is this, I think, nationalism is very strong in the country. And Sinan Ogan, he was a member of the far right party, and he mobilized the nationalist vote.
So, the next parliament is going to be the most nationalist, most conservative parliament in Turkey's history.
So, the question is going to be what will some of the conditions that Sinan Ogan set forth?
VAUSE: Gonul Tol, we appreciate your insights and your analysis. It's really, really very, very much appreciated here. Thank you.
TOL: Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: At this hour, Ukraine's capital Kyiv has been the target of what officials they say, is an exceptional and complex air attack by Russia, involving drones, cruise missiles, and possibly ballistic missiles.
Local officials say air defenses intercepted the vast majority of the incoming strikes, but falling debris has been reported across a number of districts.
To the eastern frontlines, Ukraine's military says Russian airstrikes and artillery fire continue, but there's been little movement.
There are also reports of heavy fighting around the battered city of Bakhmut, with unsuccessful offensive actions by Russian forces.
The three day democratic blitz of Europe by Ukraine's president has ended with promises of billions in military aid, as well as commitments to begin training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s. Their fighter jet of choice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We're returning home with new military help, newer and more powerful weapons for the front, more protection for our people, greater political support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, made unannounced visits to Rome, the Vatican, Berlin, Paris. And finally, the British Prime Minister's country residence Chequers.
Now, the British nor France operate F-16s but they are willing to train Ukrainian pilots how to fly them. Both countries have ruled out supplying Ukraine with combat jets.
The training could start in just a few months and come amid the growing debate within NATO about providing Ukraine with combat jets.
Here's CNN's Matthew Chance with more.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The war in Ukraine may be at a turning point with Ukrainian forces reporting daily advances in the city of Bakhmut, with Russian positions there apparently crumbling.
Now the extraordinary allegation carried in the Washington Post that this man, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian Wagner Mercenary leader, offered Ukraine intelligence on Russian military positions if Kyiv withdrew its troops from Bakhmut where Wagner has been fighting.
Prigozhin has vehemently denied it, releasing an audio statement accusing comrades in Moscow of trying to discredit it.
Even Ukraine has dismissed any talk with its bitter enemy. The senior Ukrainian official telling CNN that if Prigozhin had been back channeling without the knowledge of the Kremlin, he would not be alive today.
But these are fraught times for friends of the Kremlin. One of its backers Alexander Lukashenko of neighboring Belarus, here at the Victory Day parade in Moscow last week, is rumored to have been taken ill, later appearing looking uneasy at a wreath laying ceremony in his capital Minsk. An official in Belarus told CNN he is, "absolutely fine".
And now, new video said to be of Lukashenko at work as usual inspecting air defenses. But rumors abound about the health of this aging Kremlin backed leader.
Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian official is calling President Zelenskyy's European tour a huge success. This latest leg with the British prime minister and his country residents were attacked drones and air defense systems were pledged.
RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I look forward to us discussing what more we can do to support you and your country.
ZELENSKYY: First of all, thank you very much for your support that already had a lot for us.
CHANCE (voice over): With British cruise missiles already delivered to Ukraine, Britain is now at the forefront of providing long range weapons. There was no promise of game changing F-16 fighter jets from any European power.
Still, a senior Ukrainian official tells CNN that in time, Ukraine will get the planes, the tanks and the long range weapons it needs to win this war.
Matthew Chance, CNN, London
VAUSE: David Sanger is a CNN political and national security analyst, he is also White House and National Security Correspondent for New York Times and author of The Perfect Weapon. David, welcome back. It's been a while.
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Great to see again, John.
VAUSE: OK, this was quite the democratic tour de force by Zelenskyy. He got new commitments of military aid from Germany and France as well as the U.K. and he also got this, here he is. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNAK: One thing we will be doing starting actually relatively soon is training of Ukrainian pilot.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We have opened the door to training the pilots, training can start right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Is this kind of the precursor to actually getting the jets because either France or Britain will supply the F-16s because they don't operate F-16s where they're willing to train them up in this.
And the U.K. once were part of this fighter jet Coalition, which is a group of nations committed to getting the F-16s for Ukraine.
SANGER: That's right. And even if he doesn't ultimately get the planes, there's a psychological aid in making the Russians think that that could well be imminent.
Fact of the matter is that the long pole in the tank here has always been that if he did get planes, he wouldn't necessarily have anyone around who could fly them.
Remember, the United States and the NATO allies are not putting their own personnel on the battlefield here, or in the air.
So, it was critical that he get this going, even if those planes don't get delivered until next year.
VAUSE: So why is the F-16 the Ukrainian's fighter jet of choice?
SANGER: Well, it's their jet of choice because it was designed to take on the Soviet and then Russian militaries. More really the Russian military given the age of the plane.
But the concept here is that at some point, this will move from being a trench war, and an artillery war to back being an air war.
VAUSE: And all of this right now is building towards this Ukrainian counter offensive, which seems to be imminent. It's been imminent for a while now. And on that, here's President Zelenskyy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY: We really in need some more time. Not too much. We'll be ready, you know, in some time. I want to be very honest with you, I can't share with you some days, I just don't want to prepare not for our friends, there are no secrets from our friends. But there are some secrets from our neighbors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, last week, he said though, waiting for more weapons, more ammunition, even taking that at face value. I mean, is there a risk here of drawing this out for too long?
SANGER: There is some risk of drawing. Now there are some people who believe, John, that the counter offensive has already begun in a small way as the Ukrainians test some of the Russian lines.
There's some belief that they have to figure out whether or not they're going to really try to retake Bakhmut, which right now is 90 percent controlled by the Russians, or whether they really focus their effort elsewhere.
There are a lot of American military officials who believe Bakhmut was the long fight for them to expend energy in.
But I think the real question underway here is, can he mount a counter offensive that moves the needle enough that it actually does force the Russians to consider a negotiation to end this war?
VAUSE: This was a remarkable sort of Europe diplomatic tour for Zelenskyy. He went to Paris, Rome, met with the Pope of the Vatican, off to Chequers in the U.K. And he's also in Berlin. And here's the Ukrainian president speaking on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY (through translator): I would like to thank you, totally sincerely. And to the Germany people for every saved Ukrainian life due to your support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And he was thanking Germany for its biggest ever military aid package, almost $3 billion. That's a long way from the 5,000 helmets, which Germany donated in the lead up to the war.
So, what does this aid package say about the role Germany wants to play now in terms of European security, as well as resetting relations with Kyiv?
SANGER: Well, the Germans would like you to believe that this was a fundamental turning point, and in many ways it was for them. They made good on their commitment to shut down any imports from Nord Stream 1 or Nord Stream 2. If the war broke out, if Putin went ahead and invaded Ukraine, they did that. Then they've got through this quite remarkable amount of aid.
The question is, do they now use that moment to go rebuild their military, something that the Germans themselves have an allergy to, but the rest of the West does not seem to be as concerned about. And of course, that goes back to all the lessons from World War II.
The other question is whether or not the Germans get aid fatigue, something that here in Washington is being discussed as well.
You have the far right of the Republican Party and the far left of the Democratic Party agreeing for very different reasons that they do not want to have significant new commitments to Ukraine. And we just don't know whether or not that's going to continue or not.
VAUSE: It has been a lot of military aid, a lot of financial aid over the year -- a year or so.
David, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
SANGER: Great to be with you.
VAUSE: Still ahead, a month of the Sudan's war and still no end in sight. Hospitals continue to be targeted, making a dire humanitarian crisis even worse.
Today is a day to celebrate a Declaration of Independence. The same day the Nakba, the catastrophe. We'll have more on that after the break.
VAUSE: Dozens of people remain unaccounted for after a hostile fire in New Zealand's capital Wellington, which is believed to have killed at least six people.
Firefighters rushed to the hospital shortly after midnight local time, evacuated 52 people from the four story building. Five others were taken to the hospital.
About a hundred people were believed to be staying inside that building. Cause of the blaze remains unknown.
Amongst the brutal fighting in Sudan shows no sign of letting up and despite global outrage, hospitals in the capital continue to come under heavy fire.
CNN has geo-located videos of the East Nile Hospital, which appears to be in heavily damaged. According to the paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, the hospital is hit by an airstrike by the Sudanese military.
It's not known how many people were injured or killed in that attack. CNN's Larry Madowo has more now on the conflict that has already created hundreds of thousands of refugees.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The attack on the East Nile hospital in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum underscores the futility of all the attempts so far at a ceasefire.
The Rapid Support Forces, this is a powerful paramilitary group that's been in conflict with the Sudanese army claims that this attack caused significant damage to the building. It posted a video showing some of that damage.
But the Sudanese army said that it did target a location where the Rapid Support Forces have been keeping their weapons, ammunition and even fuel and it dealt a decisive blow to it.
The Sudanese army is accusing the Rapid Support Forces of occupying this hospital from the beginning of the conflict in violation of international law.
What is the truth here? It's hard to tell because with every incident, since this conflict began, there's been blames and counter blames, accusations and counter accusations. And it is really difficult to tell who's telling the truth here.
But zoom out here, the timing of this airstrike on the hospital is also that marked 30 continuous days of fighting in Khartoum with no end in sight. This just keeps continuing even though the U.N. says now at least 676 people have been killed. About 130,000 people have been displaced, including 200,000 that have crossed over into neighboring countries, like Chad and Egypt, and South Sudan and Eritrea.
But there has been an attempt to bring these two warring parties together. On Friday, they signed a declaration of intent to protect civilian lives. It is not a ceasefire, but it is the first attempt to try and negotiate what they called a 10-day ceasefire to allow for humanitarian aid to come in.
But this latest attack flies in the face of that because this conflict appears to just be dragging on and on and on with no end in sight.
And there's such great enmity that even at that signing ceremony, the two representatives of the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese army didn't even shake hands. They barely looked at each other.
So, that is the kind of animosity that any negotiators have to overcome. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are leading these pre-negotiation talks, but they don't seem to be heading very far.
Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.
VAUSE: Well, Israelis have celebrated 75 years of independence. Palestinians have held somber ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes.
Thousands of Palestinians marched in the West Bank Monday demanding recognition of their right to return -- their right to return to their home to now in Israel.
And this year for the first time, the U.N. officially commemorated the day at its headquarters in New York to begin a special session. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to protect his people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): The international community should shoulder its responsibility. It should in the aggression. It should provide international protection to the Palestinian people. We are being subjected to violence. Every day we are complaining, every day we are calling upon you, every day. Please protect us. Please protect us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The Nakba anniversary comes just days after fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad killed 33 Palestinians in Gaza, as well as two people in Israel last week.
One of those dead was a Palestinian man from Gaza who was working in Israel. Now his family in mourning and CNN's Ben Wedeman has their story.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Another father in Gaza has lost his son. As always happens here when calm returns, mourners come to pay respects for those who were killed.
But 34-year-old Abdullah Hasnain (PH) wasn't killed in an Israeli airstrike. Rather, shrapnel from a missile fired by Islamic Jihad from his native Gaza into Israel ripped through his chest and abdomen.
Abdullah was one of around 18,000 Gazans to receive a permit to work in Israel.
His father Jibreel (PH), also working in Israel rushed to the hospital. It was too late. Human kindness triumphed over the passions of war. I found it made no difference to the doctors if we were Arabs or Jews (INAUDIBLE). I asked them to help me to get procedures to take my son home and bury him and they did.
Abdullah leaves behind a wife, four daughters and two sons.
His children, his family, a whole family of seven people is now destitute, relative of Muhammad tells me.
These Bedouin are pious people. They prefer not to place blame. Abdullah's death, they say was God's will.
Spokesman for Islamic Jihad denied any responsibility.
A short drive away, residents survey the ruins of a large house bombed by Israeli aircraft. Inspectors from the Ministry of Public Works gather information on the destruction.
WEDEMAN: The neighbors say it wasn't a secret. This building belonged to somebody who was in Islamic Jihad's missile unit. The building was destroyed on Friday evening.
In the process however, all the homes in this area were severely damaged.
WEDEMAN (voice over): The blast shattered windows and toppled walls. The neighbors had nothing to do with missiles and don't know when or if help will arrive.
Chantey's (PH) home is in shambles. He shows me all the help he's received so far with a bag of food and a few dollars.
My house is destroyed, he shouts, a kilo of sugar and a kilo of flour. I'm going crazy. Can I fix my house with that?
It's all madness and they never get used to it.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Gaza.
VAUSE: Still to come on CNN, a Trump appointed special counsel releases his report on the FBI's Trump Russia investigation. The details and the former president's reaction to the findings.
VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.
Well, for the past four years a special counsel appointed during the Trump administration has been reviewing the FBI investigation into links between Russia and the former president.
His 305-page report has now been released and has found the FBI should never have launched a full-blown investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia but makes no new recommendation for criminal charges.
CNN's Evan Perez has details, reporting in from Washington.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Special Counsel John Durham released his final report, casting doubt about the FBI's decision to launch a full investigation into connections between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
PEREZ (voice-over): The 300-plus-page report sharply criticized the FBI and the Justice Department throughout but does not recommend any new charges against anyone or any wholesale changes to the way politically-sensitive investigations are being handled.
Well, the report falls well short of expectations that were set by former President Trump and his allies, who have long claimed that it would prove that the FBI's investigation was a political witch hunt.
Nonetheless, Donald Trump claimed vindication, posting on his social media platform that it was evidence of a scam.
Durham's report finds many mistakes by the FBI, including what he calls confirmation bias. He includes that the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia.
PEREZ: Republicans in Congress have already called for Durham to come up to the Capitol for a hearing to discuss more about his investigation.
Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: The U.S. State Department says it's aware of the sentencing of an American citizen in China on spying charges. The 78-year-old, who's also a Hong Kong permanent resident, has been sentenced to life in prison by a Chinese court.
For more, let's go to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, live for us in Hong Kong this hour. What do we know about this U.S. citizen?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, John, even at this hour, the details are scant, due to the sensitivity of this case. It is life in prison for the 78-year-old American in China.
On Monday, this U.S. citizen -- he's named John Shing-Wan Leung, and he's also a Hong Kong permanent resident -- was sentenced to life in prison by a Chinese court for espionage. He was detained in April 2021 in Suzhou. This is a very wealthy, high-
tech Chinese megacity located just outside of Shanghai. And in China, cases like this are very sensitive, because they involve state security, and they are usually handled behind closed doors.
Now, overnight, we heard from a U.S. State Department spokesman, and he says that the State Department is aware of the sentencing while also adding this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VEDANT PATEL, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the department works to provide all appropriate assistance, including relevant consular access. The department has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas, but just given privacy concerns, I don't have anything else to offer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now, the sentencing comes as the tension continues to rise between China and the U.S. over a slew of issues, including trade, technology, and access to technology. Geopolitics, as well.
It also comes as China and the U.S. are trying to stabilize their relationship. As you recall, we discussed here last week on your program China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, and the U.S. national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, they met for two days of talks that spanned eight hours in Vienna.
And during those talks, Sullivan raised concerns about the fate of Americans, of U.S. citizens detained in China. He added that this was a personal priority for the U.S. president, Joe Biden.
I want to add that there are at least three other Americans known to be imprisoned in China. These are their photos. You have photos of two of them. These are their names.
You have Kai Li, a father who was detained in China since 2016 on spying charges that he denies. Also Mark Swidan, a businessman who was convicted on drug charges in 2019; as well as David Lin, a pastor who is detained since 2006.
And now John Leung, and we are still working to get any more reportable lines and information about, including a photograph, Leung joins that list of Americans now detained in China.
Back to you, John.
VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout, live for us there in Hong Kong.
We'll take a short break. And when we come back, a wave of young voters prevailed at the ballot box in Thailand's elections, but whether they'll see change they wanted, well, that's still an open question.
VAUSE: Passengers on a train traveling from Austria -- bound for Vienna were shocked by what came over the loudspeakers on Sunday.
It was recordings of a speech by Adolf Hitler, along with inflammatory Nazi slogans. Some passengers feared the train had been hijacked. A rabbi from Vienna was on board the train and said he was disturbed, not only by the recordings but by passengers who were laughing.
A spokesperson for the train line said someone used a duplicate key to get access to the intercom system, and an investigation is now underway.
After a landslide win by opposition parties in Thailand, the question of who will lead the country remains up in the air. As CNN's Paula Hancocks reports, the military elites will have the final say.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A street celebration in Bangkok as the progressive move Forward Party closed victory in Thailand's elections. The party that promised the most changes has won the most votes.
PITA LIMJAROENRAT, LEADER, MOVE FORWARD PARTY: The people of Thailand have already spoken their wish, and I -- I am ready to be the prime minister for all, whether you agree with me or you disagree with me.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): The younger generation came out in force to vote, saying they wanted a new future for their country.
THANATCHA BUAYAI, MOVE FORWARD SUPPORTER: Things like the new generation, and I am one of the new generation.
NAT SOONTORNARUN, MOVE FORWARD SUPPORTER: There were things that Thailand do (ph) have. Like, a good democracy.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Now comes the horse trading. Pita has asked Pheu Thai, with the second highest votes, to join his coalition. The party affiliated with exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was favored to win. But his daughter says they will vote with their fellow progressives.
PAETONGTAM SHINAWATRA, PHUE THAI PARTY (voice-over): We have to accept the result with sportsmanship. When Move Forward has won as No. 1, we congratulate them; and we're cheering for democracy and for the nation to move forward.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Both parties ran on a ticket to reform the economy and keep the military out of politics. Move Forward went one step further, pledging to reform the once untouchable monarchy. THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK, POLITICAL ANALYST: They have tapped into a lot
of sentiments that have been feeling, I think, that Thailand needs to change; and that change has to do with the reform of the military, the monarchy, getting rid of the draft, amending the Article I and II. That's what Move Forward proposes.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): A result seen as a strong rebuke to years of military-backed politics. Incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, former coup leader and army chief, said he would respect the people's decision after the polls closed.
PEERAPAN SALEERATTAWIPAK, CHAIRPERSON, UTN PARTY (voice-over): We have to accept the reality. It's not that we get what we want all the time. Working in politics, we need to accept the reality all the time that there is no certainty.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Despite two military coups in less than 20 years in Thailand, most political experts believe chances for another are low this time.
But the biggest party is not guaranteed to field the next prime minister. Move Forward needs to secure the majority of 750 MP votes for Pita to become prime minister. Two hundred and fifty of votes are from a military-elected Senate, who are unlikely to support a progressive candidate.
Celebrations may be underway, but so is the deal making to ensure the final government reflects the will of the voters.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause, back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM, but in the meantime, WORLD SPORT starts after the break. See you back here in 19 minutes.