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Mother of the Late Russian Opposition Leader Appeals to their President; U.S. Vetoes United Nations Security Council Resolution on Gaza Ceasefire; North Korea Reopens Borders to Tourists; WikiLeaks Founder to Make Final Appeal in Court; Beyonce's New Country Single Tops the Charts. Aired 3-3:45a ET

Aired February 21, 2024 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, a mother's plea to Putin, give me my son. Five days after Alexei Navalny's death, his family says they still haven't seen his body.

For the third time since the war began, the US has wielded its veto power at the U.N. Security Council to block demands for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

And North Korea is opening its doors to tourists for the first time since the pandemic. We'll hear from some of the visitors, all of them Russian, who were allowed in.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from Atlanta, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us. International sanctions haven't stopped him, neither has dwindling pressure at home. Now with waning support in the West for his enemy, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears more emboldened than ever to pursue his war on Ukraine.

The U.S. plans to roll out new sanctions on Friday, a day before the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A senior U.S. official says the sanctions were in the works and are now being supplemented in the wake of Alexei Navalny's death.

Vladimir Putin met with his defense minister on Tuesday, suggesting Russia should expand on its recent battlefield success after the fall of Avdiivka. And he mocked Ukrainian forces saying they fled the town in chaos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The leadership of the Ukrainian armed forces issued an order to withdraw its armed forces when they were already on the move and leaving the settlement. As I understand, that was done for political reasons in order to cover up the move and give it the appearance of an organized withdrawal. We see and know that was not the case, that it was in fact a runaway in the literal sense of the word.


CHURCH: The global backlash over the death of Putin's fiercest political rival, Navalny, has done little to slow the Russian government's crackdown on dissent. According to state media, a U.S.- Russian citizen has been arrested for treason, accused of collecting funds for Ukraine and openly supporting Kyiv. And on Tuesday, another American detained in Russia, "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich, appeared in a Moscow courtroom where the court upheld his detention until the end of March.

Well live now to London and CNN's Clare Sebastian. Good morning to you, Clare. So what is the latest on Navalny's death and his family's attempts to have his body returned to them for burial?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, good morning, Rosemary. His family are keeping up the fight on several fronts, it should be noted. His wife, Yulia, lobbying internationally, calling -- according to a transcript from a speech that she gave to European Union foreign ministers, calling for them not to recognize the results of the Russian election. That is, of course, one area where we are watching to see if his death and the emotion around that will galvanize any kind of protest vote.

And separately, we have his mother, who has taken on this now public- facing role, releasing a video message on Tuesday calling on President Putin to release her son's body. We now know that she has filed a lawsuit with the city court in Seligard, which is that regional center near the prison where he was being held. According to state media, the complaint is over, quote, "illegal actions".

But the head of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation said this was because of inaction of the investigative committee, which is, of course, said to be investigating his death. That will be a -- there will be a hearing, according to state media, on March 4th, which will, perhaps in keeping with the total lack of information around Navalny's death, be held behind closed-doors. So, as I said, the family are continuing to push, are keeping up this fight, even as it's now clear that the Russian authorities are willing to keep putting the pressure on them.

We heard on Tuesday that his brother, Oleg Navalny, was added to an interior minister wanted list for unspecified charges. So, that is the situation. They are still waiting for any sign that his body could be released.

CHURCH: And Clare, what more are you learning about Russia's increased crackdown on dissent in recent days, including the arrest of a Russian-American woman accused of treason?


SEBASTIAN: Yeah, this is a notable case. One, because, of course, she is a dual Russian-U.S. citizen. And we know, of course, that any U.S. citizen in Russian custody is currency, perhaps, in the current climate.

So, that is one thing. Secondly, the charges that have been filed against her under the criminal code for treason, incredibly serious. That is a charge that carries, it was actually upgraded last year from a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in prison, potentially.

So, extremely serious. What she's been accused of doing, according to a statement from the FSB, the Russia's Internal Security Service, is basically providing funds to Ukrainian organizations, which were allegedly then used for battlefield equipment. And the second thing, which is particularly notable, is taking part in activities in support of the Kyiv regime, which the charges specify actually happened outside Russia, in the United States.

So, I think that tells you the level of scrutiny, the level of oppression where Russian nationals are being scrutinized for actions not only in Russia, but outside of Russia. She has not been granted bail. I think that's a measure of the severity of the charges against her.

But, of course, this will be closely watched. And there's yet no further comment from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Clare Sebastian joining us live from London.

In Ukraine, military officials are taking stock of what looks like a deteriorating situation. A Ukrainian commander on the outskirts of Avdiivka says Russian forces can and will continue their advances in the war-ravaged town.

What's clear is that Ukraine desperately needs weapons, ammunition and other military support promised by the United States. And Capitol Hill is dark with the U.S. House and Senate on recess. The White House lays the blame for the loss of Avdiivka on Republican lawmakers, saying congressional inaction was the reason Ukrainian troops were forced to withdraw from the town.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked Ukraine's foreign affairs minister for his response.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: We wouldn't lose Avdiivka if we had received all the artillery ammunition that we needed to defend it. That is my answer to your question.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Simple as that. KULEBA: I don't think it requires any additional comments. There is a

war. This war will continue. Russia does not intend to pause. Russia does not intend to withdraw. They will undertake other offensive operations. And they always act in a very simple, I would say even salami tactics. They slice one town or one village and then they focus all of their resources on another one.


CHURCH: Ukraine is looking to the future of its fight, but military recruitment efforts are slow going and the country is quickly filling up with the graves of fallen men and women. CNN's Christiane Amanpour is in Lviv and shows us the toll the war is taking and Ukraine's remarkable resilience.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): At first it looks beautiful. All the colors, the sheer density flying in the wind, so much Ukrainian yellow and blue. But when you realize that each flies above the body of a beloved, the pain is palpable.

A mother cries for her son.

He came from Poland, from abroad, says Lyubov. He went to liberate our Ukraine. He said, mum, I'm going to defend you.

A woman seems to be talking to her fallen loved one.

And this widow, Natalia, moves in for a kiss. Her husband, who had volunteered for the Eastern Front, was killed just shy of his 30th birthday five months ago when shrapnel hit his head, leaving her and her small children alone.

I'm proud of my husband because his sacrifice is worth a lot, says Natalia. I believe that it's the duty of every man to defend his homeland. Having three children, he could have not gone, but understood that he was going to defend us.

Lychakiv Cemetery in the western city of Lviv is like cemeteries all over Ukraine today.

AMANPOUR: Two years ago, this was a grass field. Today, it's a field of flags and the graves of those who've fallen defending this country. And on this two-year anniversary, families are asking whether Ukraine can continue leaving it up to their volunteers, or whether there needs to be a call-up to mobilize for the front.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Natalia agrees. Yes, definitely, she says, because if we don't defend ourselves, what kind of fate awaits us next? And if we don't defend our lands, Russia will be here soon.


In the center of Lviv, there is a small recruitment office for the Army's 3rd Assault Brigade just through this courtyard. Sergeant Pavlo Dokin is in charge, and he shows us in.

AMANPOUR: So, Pavlo, this is the recruitment office, the recruitment center?

AMANPOUR (voice-over): It is exhausting, not only physically, but also for morale. Soldiers need to have normal rotations, Pavlo tells me, so that they can rest from all of that and start working with renewed vigor.

The office is open all week, sometimes a few show up, sometimes none. While we were there, just one.

AMANPOUR: Why do you want to be in the military?

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Someone needs to defend our Ukraine, says Volodymyr, a 43-year-old builder.

And that's the point. Starting a third year of full-scale war against the Russian invasion, they are heavily outmanned, and vital weapons and ammunition for their fight are tangled up in Washington's political gridlock, under former President Donald Trump's direction.

Speaking to world leaders in Munich this past weekend, President Zelenskyy said he'd invite him to see the war with his own eyes.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: If Trump, Mr. Trump, if he will come, I'm ready even to go with him to the front line.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Back at the 3rd Assault Brigade, this poster says, rush to the decisive battle.

And they did that this weekend, just as the small town of Avdiivka in the east was falling, to help withdraw forces before they could be inserted by the Russians. At least then they could live to fight another day. President Zelenskyy told me, for every Ukrainian killed in that battle, there were seven Russian deaths.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): I'm telling you, frankly, we don't have long-range weapons. Russia has it, and we have too little of that. That's true. That's why our main weapon today is our soldiers, our people.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Back at the cemetery in Lviv, the people, the bereaved, say the nation needs a new call-up if it can properly arm them.

I would say they should, says Lyubov, but only if they had weapons. The guys have no weapons, they have nothing to fight with. Believe me, my child used to buy his own uniform with his own money.

And here, more ground is already being prepared. The fight for freedom and democracy will be bloody, hard and long.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Lviv, Western Ukraine.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: Now to the war between Israel and Hamas. For a third time, the U.S. has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.


The final vote on the proposal, which was introduced by Algeria, was 13-1, with the U.K. abstaining. Washington has instead proposed its own draft resolution that for the first time calls for a temporary ceasefire.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Proceeding with the vote today was wishful and irresponsible. And so while we cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy, we look forward to engaging on a text that we believe will address so many of the concerns we all share. A text that can and should be adopted by the Council so that we can have a temporary ceasefire as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.


CHURCH: France has expressed frustration at the Council for failing to adopt the ceasefire resolution, while the U.K. urged an immediate halt in the fighting to deliver humanitarian aid after abstaining from the vote. Hamas also criticized the U.S. veto and held the Biden administration directly responsible for blocking the resolution.

And for more, let's go to journalist Elliott Gotkine, live in London. Good morning to you, Elliott. So what more are you learning about the U.S. veto of the U.N. Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, we knew this resolution was dead on arrival. The U.S., of course, is one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.


It holds veto-wielding powers and it wielded them on Tuesday. And the U.S.' argument is quite simple, although on the surface it may just seem to be about semantics. But its argument is simply that right now there are very delicate hostage negotiations going on, with a view to getting the more than 100 Israeli hostages still held captive in the Gaza Strip after being kidnapped during the October 7th terrorist attacks, and to get them freed in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

And as part of that, the U.S. has been outside of the U.N. advocating a six-week pause in the fighting. It says that its concern is that were this Algerian resolution to have passed, it would have torpedoed those negotiations, it would have removed all leverage on Hamas to free the Israeli hostages, and that is why it didn't support it. What the U.S. is advocating is that the hostages be released as a precondition of a temporary ceasefire, and that that would thereby enable more aid to go into the Gaza Strip to the benefit of the Palestinians, and in particular the one and a half million Palestinians who are now crowded into Rafah.

And so at the same time, the U.S.' draft text is calling on Israel to not go in on the ground in Rafah. It's particularly concerned not just about the potential harm to noncombatants in Rafah, but in particular displacement of Palestinians over the border into Egypt, which it says could potentially imperil peace and security in the region, namely the decades-old peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. So those are its concerns.

It isn't that the U.S. wants to see the fighting continue, it just wants to ensure that the leverage and the pressure on Hamas remains there so that those hostages can be released, because were the Algerian resolution to have passed, then that may have actually made it harder to get those hostages freed from captivity in the Gaza Strip. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Alright, our thanks to journalist Elliot Gotkine joining us live from London there.

Well, at least 15 people were killed Tuesday from Israeli airstrikes on a refugee camp in central Gaza, according to officials at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

Residents say they did not receive any warning before the airstrikes, which destroyed at least 10 homes. Civilians dug through the rubble trying to find family members. Gaza's health ministry says the death toll in the enclave has surpassed 29,000. The Hamas-controlled ministry says more than 69,000 people have been injured since October 7th. CNN cannot independently verify those numbers.

Meantime, malnutrition is now a major concern as the region's humanitarian crisis worsens, with a UNICEF representative saying the situation has risen to emergency levels. CNN's Nic Robertson has the details. A warning though, his report contains graphic video which may be disturbing.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Gaza's food problem writ large.

Hunger trumping fear of Israeli bullets.

News of a coming aid convoy carrying flour into the north of Gaza, converging crowds to plunder it.

We came here and the Israelis started opening fire on us and we hid between the buildings, Hamza Nasser says. When the fire stops, we come out again and wait for the flour.

The IDF say they will look into this incident, but say they can't rule out Hamas shooting. Desperation leading to looting, a growing problem in northern Gaza.

HAMISH YOUNG, SR. EMERGENCY COORDINATOR, UNICEF: We're talking tens and tens of thousands for, you know, five, ten trucks. The food that he's getting through is just a drop in the ocean. It's not nearly enough.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Theft so bad, the principal U.N. food supplier, the WFP, declaring Tuesday it will stop deliveries to the north, compounding the already dire conditions. 15 percent of children under two have malnutrition.

YOUNG: It's now at an emergency level. According to international standards, once you're over 15 percent for acute malnutrition, that's a nutritional crisis and an emergency and we are there.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The most common thing that comes into hospital is malnutrition, Dr. Abu Safia says. It creates complications, sometimes even death.

Even before the World Food Programme canceled food deliveries, children venting fears shared by adults. Abandonment by the world.

UNKNOWN: No food, no water, no medicine. Our message to the world, shame on you. How dare you food your children while we eat animal food? Are you waiting our death?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The whole family is dead, Umm Ibrahim wails.

Is he the last one alive? Gesturing towards her grandson.


As bad as hunger is, Israel's armaments remain more deadly.

At Umm Ibrahim's home in Nusrat, central Gaza, one granddaughter dug out of the rubble, killed in the massive airstrike.

Another clings to life as rescuers give her CPR.

In southern Gaza, where food supplies are slightly better, this plastic surgeon, just out of the besieged Al Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, close to tears.

DR. AHMAD MOGHRABI, HEAD OF PLASTIC AND RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY, NASSER HOSPITAL: I couldn't offer anything to my children. We used to eat only, you know, only bread. My children, they want some sweets. I couldn't provide some sweets for my children. My little girl, three years old, she used to ask me many things but I couldn't provide my little girl.

ROBERTSON: And just to give an idea of how precarious the food deliveries to Gaza are and what gives U.N. agencies real concern about malnutrition, the main border crossing from Israel into Gaza, Karim Shalom, was blocked by protesters saying that the food was going to Hamas, not to the innocent people inside Gaza.

Just the day before, 131 trucks had passed through the crossing. Quite a difference.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Tel Aviv, Israel.


CHURCH: Just ahead, Republicans have long been claiming this informant holds the key to what they call the Biden crime family, where he says he got his now discredited information.

Plus, for the first time since the pandemic, tourists are allowed inside North Korea. But they're not just any tourists. Ahead, a look at their carefully-controlled visit. Back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. New allegations in a U.S. court filing suggest Russia is once again tampering with the upcoming presidential election. The ex-FBI informant charged with falsely accusing President Joe Biden and his son Hunter of taking massive bribes from a Ukrainian energy company says his made-up intelligence came from Russian intelligence officials. Our Evan Perez has the story.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A former FBI informant allegedly told investigators that people associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing on false claims about Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden. Federal prosecutors made that new allegation in a court filing seeking to keep Alexander Smirnov detained after he was arrested and charged with lying to the FBI and falsifying documents.


Smirnov is behind allegations that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden were being offered bribes of $5 million each in order to help Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Republicans have touted those claims as part of their effort to impeach President Biden.

Now, according to Special Counsel David Weiss, the bribery claims against the Bidens are false. Weiss is prosecuting Hunter Biden on tax evasion and gun charges.

The prosecutors say that Smirnov has extensive contacts with foreign intelligence agencies and they also raise the potential impact of Smirnov's claims on the 2024 U.S. election.

They say Smirnov's efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of two major political parties in the United States continues.

What this shows is that the misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections. At a hearing in Las Vegas, a judge allowed Smirnov to be released with

restrictions, including requiring that he surrender his U.S. and Israeli passports. The judge said that the political ramifications of Smirnov's alleged crimes don't meet the standard to require continued detention.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: North Korea has reopened its borders for the first time since the COVID lockdown. The first known group of tourists is from Russia and that is no coincidence. Our Will Ripley spoke to some of the travelers about what they were allowed to see.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After years of near total isolation, North Korea is rolling out the red carpet for Russian visitors. This group of 100 believed to be the first post-pandemic tourists visiting Kim Jong-Un's hermetically sealed nation amid its deepening ties with Russia.

They flew from Vladivostok to Pyongyang on a vintage Russian plane operated by Air Koryo, North Korea's only airline. I've flown it more than a dozen times when Westerners were still allowed in.

Diplomacy with the U.S. collapsed in Hanoi in 2019, when observers say Kim made a strategic pivot, bolstering his nuclear arsenal, prioritizing ties with Moscow and Beijing, both protecting Kim from fallout at the United Nations for his unprecedented missile testing binge.

Russia is reportedly releasing millions of dollars in frozen North Korean assets, facilitating access to international banking networks. The "New York Times" reports, setting the stage for a new chapter of Kim's nuclear ambitions, possibly with the help of Russian rocket scientists.

This Russian tour, and perhaps more to come, is about more than sightseeing. It's about the bigger picture of international relations, Russia and North Korea strengthening ties, icing out the West.

Ilya Voskresensky is a travel blogger from St. Petersburg. A tough job these days, many European nations ban Russian tourists, the result of Putin's war on Ukraine.

ILYA VOSKRESENSKY, TRAVEL VLOGGER (through translator): I signed up for this tour the moment I heard about it. It's like stepping back in time, reminiscent of the stories my grandparents told me about life in the Soviet Union, the empty streets, the lack of advertisements. It's surreal.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Elena Bychkova is a marketing professional from Moscow. ELENA BYCHKOVA, MARKETING PROFESSIONAL (through translator): The

meticulous preparations for our visit felt like being in a theater production, but amidst the choreographed scenes, I couldn't shake the feeling that there's another side to North Korea, one that remains hidden.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Beneath the carefully controlled facade, encounters with North Korean children, revealing curiosity, genuine interest in the outside world.

RIPLEY: Tourism is one thing, but what the United States and its allies are truly concerned about is this deepening military cooperation between North Korea and Russia. At least 24 North Korean ballistic missiles fired on Ukraine, responsible for at least 14 deaths, according to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. And an investigative organization out of the U.K. says that a North Korean ballistic missile launched just last month by the Russian military onto Ukraine contained hundreds of components from the U.S. and Europe, all of them made reportedly within the last three years.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


CHURCH: Just ahead, a Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine has been found dead in Spain. We will have the details.


And Julian Assange makes a last-ditch effort to avoid extradition. While lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder say he will not be safe in the United States.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone.

Our top story this hour, with the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine approaching and questions swirling around the death of Alexei Navalny, the U.S. is preparing a new round of sanctions against Moscow. A senior U.S. official says the sanctions were in the works and are now being supplemented in the wake of the Kremlin critic's death. The White House says the sanctions will be announced Friday and come at the direction of President Joe Biden.

According to Ukrainian defense intelligence, the Russian helicopter pilot who made headlines last year by defecting to Ukraine is dead. One source says the body of Maxim Kuzminov was found in Spain, shot to death a week ago. CNN's Melissa Bell has details.


SERGEI ZENIN, RUSSIA 1 TV CORRESPONDENT (translated): They speak calmly about Kuzminov's fate. The order has already been received. And its fulfillment is a matter of time.

MELISSA BELL, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An eerie warning just months before police cordoned off this crime scene.

A Russian state media journalist claiming last October that Russian special forces were seeking to retaliate against helicopter pilot Maxim Kuzminov, who defected to Ukraine last year.

Kuzminov now discovered fatally shot in Spain, Ukrainian defense intelligence sources confirmed to CNN.

His body found in a parking garage, according to Spanish authorities.

Asked whether Russia had any knowledge of the death, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had no information on the matter at all. Despite Russia's foreign intelligence chief speaking indirectly, saying that Kuzminov became a moral corpse the moment he'd planned his, quote, "terrible crime".

The crime in question? A daring operation last September that saw him fly his helicopter across the Russian border and into Ukraine.

A decision Kuzminov explained to journalists just after arriving in Kyiv.

MAXIM KUZMINOV, RUSSIAN HELICOPTER PILOT WHO DEFECTED TO UKRAINE (through translator): If I had one question, why would my beloved homeland need such a war? I went to church, I lit candles with one wish that it would end as soon as possible. I realized that this is evil, horror and crime. Any war is a crime.


BELL (voice-over): Maxim Kuzminov said the trip took six months to plan. Then, once out of Russia, he used his voice to encourage more of his countrymen to do the same.

KUZMINOV (through translator): Of course, if you commit what I have committed, you will not regret at all. You will be provided for with everything for the rest of your life. You will be offered jobs everywhere, everywhere you would want and whatever you would want to do. You will discover a world of colors for yourself.

BELL (voice-over): That world of colors, however, cast in the Kremlin's shadow.

UNKNOWN (translated): Of course we will find him. We can reach them all, our arms are long.

BELL (voice-over): The warnings on state television reminding dissidents that Moscow's grip extends far beyond Russia's borders.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CHURCH: Breaking news this hour. Syrian state media says an Israeli strike hit a residential area in the capital Damascus. They shared these images showing damaged cars and a charred building with one floor that appears to be severely destroyed. The district was targeted in an attack a year ago that killed Iranian military experts. CNN has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces for comment and is awaiting a response.

The U.K. High Court in London is set to hear arguments today on whether Julian Assange has the right to appeal his extradition to the United States. The Wikileaks founder is wanted by the US on 18 criminal charges related to sharing classified material.

CNN's Max Foster is live in London. He joins us now. Good morning to you, Max. So where do things stand as we move into the final day of these hearings?

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: So this extradition request has gone through the entire legal process, but this is one of the last stages. Potentially he could find out today whether or not these latest appeals are going to be thrown out, in which case the extradition process actually does start and we look to him leaving the U.K. to go to the U.S. where he's wanted to face trial.

The essence of Assange's argument is that this would be a breach of his human rights to allow this extradition request.

On one level, he's talking about the state of his mental health and how he may take his own life if he goes there. He also claims that the CIA were trying to assassinate him when he was hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in the U.K. So there's a risk if he goes there, he claims he has some evidence for that. It wasn't presented to court.

But if the judges want to see that evidence, it will lead to more hearings. So another delay.

So many elements playing into this. It really comes down to how the judges look at what happened today. He's really questioning that final judgment by the British Home Secretary that said that signed off on the extradition request.

Today, we will hear from the U.S. side and trying to bat away a lot of those claims made by Assange yesterday.

CHURCH: And how is this playing out in Britain?

FOSTER: There's a big crowd outside court. He does have a lot of supporters. You know, one of his core arguments is that he was just a journalist doing his job and he's being sanctioned just for being a journalist. It's a much more complex set of arguments that play into that, of course. It's had a lot of coverage, not just here in the U.K., but also in the U.S., because obviously that's where he would potentially face trial.

Also, he's an Australian citizen. So a big story down there as well. So a truly international press, a truly international campaign.

I think people have been living with this story in this country for a very long amount of time. They're not really sure where we are in the process. So I think, you know, when the news comes through that he potentially is going to be going to the U.S., that will resonate quite widely.

But at the moment, I think this is much more about the supporters he has, some of the conspiracy campaigns or theories that play out on social media and how he plays into that. So it's a talking point in one group. I think it becomes much wider if we actually see him traveling to the U.S.

CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to watch this very closely. Max Foster, joining us live from London. Many thanks.

And we'll be right back.




CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Beyonce's venture into country music is officially a hit.


Her new song, "Texas Hold'em", debuted in the top spot of Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, and her song "16 Carriages" came in at number nine on that same chart. She is the first woman to top both the Hot Country and Hot R&B hip hop charts since the list began decades ago. Well done.

And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "Marketplace Europe" is up next, and then "CNN Newsroom" will continue with Max Foster in London.