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Biden's Student Debt Plan and the U.S. Economy; Last Power Line at Zaporizhzhya Power Plant Was Disconnected Twice amid Fires; Ukraine Marks Independence Day and Six Months of War; France Looking for Fuel Suppliers to Replace Russia; Myanmar Junta Charges Former U.K. Ambassador; Justice Department to Submit Redactions for Trump Search Affidavit; Sierra Leone Protesters Worry Cyber Crime Law Is Enabling Crackdown; Late Opera Great Pavarotti Honored with Hollywood Star. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired August 25, 2022 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dawn: Ukrainian Independence Day outside Kharkiv, marking 31 years of freedom
from the Soviet Union but not from Russia.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Ukraine's Independence Day turns deadly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON (voice-over): Plus:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here is what my administration is going to do to provide more breathing room for people so
they have less burden by student debt and, quite frankly, to fix the system itself.
ANDERSON (voice-over): A debt relief plan in the U.S. that fails to get consensus across the aisle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON (voice-over): Also:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE RESEARCHER (voice-over): But it was the severe police crackdown both on the streets and online that has revealed
worrying signs of a government suppressing freedom of speech.
ANDERSON (voice-over): A CNN investigation is revealing an alarming turn of events in Sierra Leone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson, Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.
I do want to start with the development at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Eastern Ukraine. This is Europe's biggest nuclear plant. Ukraine's
state nuclear regulator saying just moments ago, the last power line was disconnected twice today during fires.
It's calling what happened a complete disconnection for the first time in the history of the plant. Power was later restored. A Russian state news
agency described the incident as a short circuit. The news is coming as the IAEA chief is saying his agency is very close to an agreement with Russia
to inspect the plant.
David McKenzie's following this from Kyiv.
This is an alarming turn of events. This is a plant that is currently controlled by Russia.
What do we know, at this point, about how significant is this full disconnection?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, given the potential seriousness, I want to be careful in describing what we know, what we don't. Both pro
Russian sources and Ukrainian sources, through the civilian nuclear power agency, are saying that at least in one reactor, possibly two, there was a
temporary -- we don't know how long or whether that still is the case -- power disconnection.
This could've been because of fires in the area, according to the Russian source, possibly because of the ongoing fighting and shelling in that
area. We do know from our previous reports, Becky, that there was a reduction in power supply to the reactors.
Why is this important?
Because experts I have been speaking to have said multiple times that it's less about a direct strike on a nuclear reactor; it's more about the power
supply coming from Ukraine into those reactors which enable the cooling systems for the nuclear fuel, the rods, to remain cool.
Now it must be said that even if there is a disruption, a station blackout like they described, there are normally diesel generators, 18 of them, that
power up those reactors as a backup.
But the head of the state nuclear agency here told me that they don't know how much fuel there is; they don't know what the maintenance of those
diesel generators is like. So with each day, we get more disturbing news from this reactor and edging closer to a possible accident of some kind.
But they did say that this was the first time that they've had any interruption of power to the nuclear reactor ever since it was built. And
it does send worrying signals that, if there is a sustained power outage, a total power outage, there could be a very dangerous situation. Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, the fears are this would lead to a catastrophic failure of the cooling systems if there was a complete disconnection of the plant. We
have heard reports which, I don't think at this point we can verify, of Russia planning to disconnect this power plant from Ukraine's power grid.
There's an awful lot going on here, isn't there?
And we are hearing conflicting stories from both sides.
ANDERSON: What is clear at this point is that it is important that the IAEA inspectors get in to find out what is going on at that plant. As we
understand it, the chief has said they're getting closer and closer to getting that access.
Is it clear at this point what he means by that?
MCKENZIE: What they've generally meant by that, Becky, is that they're negotiating between the Russians and the Ukrainians on what it would mean,
in fact, to access this plant.
This is really a major security and logistical problem for the IAEA. They would have to travel through Ukrainian territory, across the front lines,
into territory held by the Russians on the other side of the Dnipro River.
Now the Russians have hinted that they could possibly travel through Russian territory. But that's unacceptable to the Ukrainians, of course,
given the scope of the war.
The Ukrainians and the Americans and pretty much all sides outside of the Russian side, have said that they need to demilitarize that zone, get
soldiers out of that plant and the general area before inspectors can come in.
And I think that's probably the major sticking point. The U.N., Becky, has said several times that they have the logistical and security support to
help those inspectors get in safely and out safely. So it's more a question of whether the Russians will leave and if Ukraine changes its mind on what
is acceptable to them. Becky.
ANDERSON: David McKenzie's on the ground in Kyiv. Busy times, David, thank you.
That news developing as we speak, coming as Ukraine reports at least 25 people killed in a Russian missile strike at a train station in a nearby
residential area. This is in Eastern Ukraine. Now happening on Ukraine's Independence Day. Among the dead are a 6-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy
found under the rubble of his family's home.
Russia claims the strike killed 200 Ukrainian soldiers and destroyed military equipment. That attack a grim reminder of six months of war. Sam
Kiley looks the toll and how Western weaponry is helping Ukraine's battlefront. A warning to you: his report does contain images you may find
KILEY (voice-over): Dawn: Ukrainian Independence Day outside Kharkiv, marking 31 years of freedom from the Soviet Union but not from Russia.
Flags but not people are out in Kharkiv marking six months since Russia's invasion amid fears of renewed attacks on cities here. And the threat
became real with a brutal strike on a train station.
Vladimir Putin assume that the lens gives government would be swiftly toppled in a Russian onslaught. Many in the West agreed with him.
BORIS JOHNSON, OUTGOING U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We were filled with foreboding because we just did not see how this innocent and beautiful
country could repel an attack by more than 100 battalion tactical groups when the suffering and the casualties would be so immense. But you did.
KILEY: Russians were held up in their assault on Kyiv, then driven back. Their retreat from the Capitol revealing atrocities in Irpin and Bucha.
Switching tactics back to the 1940s, Russia gave up on the Capitol to focus on breaking Ukraine's national will, with wholesale bombardments of cities
concentrating on Kharkiv, Mariupol.
Millions fled to safety outside the country over land clogging roads and railways. Led by the U.S., Ukraine's allies eventually sent better
artillery. Then, rocket launchers, drones and shared vital intelligence. Too late to help save Mariupol but new weapons have slowed the Russian
advance in much of the East where soldiers now refer to fighting in towns like Sievierodonetsk as a meat grinder.
Massive amounts of American money and equipment, fulsome support from countries like the United Kingdom have contributed to Ukraine's successes
on the battlefield. But they're still not getting the strategic weapons that they need, fast jets, long-range rockets, killer drones.
Without them, Ukrainians now face a crippling war along fixed front lines, not a victory Putin would want but one he might accept to prevent democracy
that's taking root on his doorstep in Ukraine spreading into his own home - - Sam Kiley, CNN, Kyiv.
ANDERSON: Soldiers from Ukraine's regular army will be part of upcoming prisoner of war trials in the Russian occupied city of Mariupol. That is
according to a separatist leader in what is the region of Donetsk, which says the trials won't just include those Azov fighters who holed up in
Mariupol's steel plant for weeks, defying Russian forces.
These images show metal cages at a Mariupol concert hall that will reportedly be used as holding cells for the POWs ahead of their so-called
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to speak with President Zelenskyy later today. Their conversation will follow Mr. Biden's announcement of
nearly $3 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, one of the largest packages since the war began.
British prime minister Boris Johnson, who you saw speaking in Kyiv in Sam Kiley's report, promised another $66 million in aid, including hundreds of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Here today in Ukraine, I believe that history is at a turning point. After decades in which democracy has been on the defensive, on the
back foot, we have an opportunity to join you in saying no to tyranny, saying no to those who would stifle Ukrainian liberty and independence. And
we will. And that is why Ukraine will win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Spain also helping Ukraine's war effort, announcing it will send anti aircraft battering missiles to Ukraine for the first time since
This war has also sent France's president to North Africa, looking for fuel. The French president is about to touchdown in Algeria, hoping to
improve ties with what is the former French colony.
It won't be easy. Mr. Macron's anger at Algerians last year's, saying Algeria is rewriting its colonial history based on a hatred of France.
Melissa Bell is following the story from Paris and joins us now live.
Just to explain to this audience, who may be relatively new to the story, the complicated relationship between Algeria and France to this point,
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is extremely complicated, Becky, as so many relationships between former colonizers and those who are colonized
tend to be but with the added complication of a particularly brutal war that neither side has really been able to look at together in the face.
It was back in the 19th century that France had invaded Algeria, turned it into a colony. It was in 1954 that the Algerian revolution began. It took
eight years for Algeria to achieve independence. Again, the brutality on both sides the, difficulty both countries have had.
France has had an apologizing that made this really fairly difficult for successive French presidents. Francois Hollande had been in 2012 was
expected at the Algerian parliament to apologize but had stopped just short of that, much to the anger of the Algerians.
Emmanuel Macron, when he was a candidate in 2017, had come in leading to new hope in Algeria, hoping that France might at last recognize its
mistakes, speaking on a visit as a candidate to the French presidential elections, still economy minister at this time, that colonialization (sic)
was in fact constituted crimes against humanity.
It was time that France apologized. That very quickly soured. And by last year, remarks that he made in front of a group of Algerian students, widely
reported in France, widely picked up on Algeria, caused a great controversy.
In fact a huge diplomatic row between Algeria and France with Algeria bringing its ambassador back to the country and several months of political
crisis. So this is very much another attempt by Macron to get this very difficult relationship right.
As you say in the context where the whole world is looking for natural gas and Algeria happens to be one of the biggest producers in the world. Becky.
ANDERSON: That's right. Essentially the here deal is that France wants to buy Algeria's oil and gas and Algeria wants to take advantage of high
How is this likely to play out?
BELL: Well, it's not as simple as the French would like. In fact, it is, Elysee sources have been dampening down speculation that there might be a
big announcement in terms of contracts for natural gas, simply because Macron was fit to the post by the Italian leader who went last month and
negotiated a 4 billion euro deal with Algeria.
So it is thought that Algeria doesn't have much more natural gas to sell than it is already to Italy but also to France. But there are other issues
behind. This it isn't simply that France may not get as much gas as it hoped and clearly is going Emmanuel Macron traveling with several ministers
and the head of the French energy utility giant.
So there is hope there. But the expectation is, there may not be that much more to obtain. There are other issues behind this.
BELL: Immigration, that's one of the big issues for Paris, as it goes into this meeting, trying to fix a historic difficulty in terms Algerian in
terms of the return of those Algerian immigrants who are not here legally.
And there is for the Algerian side also the importance of the optics of this. Remember, Becky, that over the course of the last few years Algiers
is one of those countries that has seen a rapprochement with Moscow. Its military officers are trained by Russia. There have been joint military
exercises by the Moroccan border.
And the president of Algeria is looking also to say that he is clearly not, as some other countries on the African continent are in the Moscow axis but
rather looking for a geostrategic rapprochement with the West.
So it's important to both leaders on other fronts but it's clearly in the context of the Ukrainian crisis that this takes place, with like it is
appointment on the French side in terms of the amount of natural gas it can hope for.
ANDERSON: Couldn't do it without, you Melissa. Thank you very much indeed.
And a reminder, the war in Ukraine extends far beyond the borders of those two countries. On our website, we have an in-depth look on how the war has
affected the Middle East and, indeed, North Africa. Log on to cnn.com/mideastnewsletter to read the article.
You can subscribe there to our daily email, "Meanwhile in the Middle East."
Just ahead, this is a picture of a former top British diplomat to Myanmar.
So why is that country detaining and charging her?
A search for answers is up next.
And what President Joe Biden's student debt plan could do to the U.S. economy.
That is all just ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson, stay with us.
ANDERSON: The military rulers in Myanmar have charged Britain's former ambassador to that country. They say Vicky Bowman faces immigration
offenses. She was detained on Wednesday, along with her husband, who is a Myanmar national.
This comes as the British government unveils new sanctions targeting Myanmar businesses linked to the ruling military junta. No doubt you are
aware, this is sadly the fifth anniversary of the Rohingya genocide, carried out by Myanmar's military in the country's Rakhine state. CNN's
Paula Hancocks is covering this. She's live from Seoul today.
Good to have you, Paula.
What's the motivation behind this detention, is it clear?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, there could be a number of reasons for this. The official reason as you mentioned is an immigration
They say Vicky Bowman had a certain address on her visa but was staying somewhere else. So that is why they have arrested her. She is behind bars.
She has been charged with that crime and, if found guilty, that is a maximum of five years in prison.
HANCOCKS: But there is an awful lot else talk about. The fact is, this does come as the U.K. does increase its sanctions against the military
junta, the military leaders. They are targeting specifically some of the military-backed companies within the country.
This on the fifth anniversary, the fifth year anniversary of the Rohingya massacre in Rakhine state. They have also said they're going to intervene
in the -- there is an ongoing court case of alleged genocide in the U.N. top court, in the International Court of Justice.
The U.K. has said they're going to get involved in that as well, supporting Gambia, who brought that case. So there are a number of issues and things
that the U.K. has done within the past couple of days.
And then suddenly you have the former U.K. ambassador being arrested. Vicky Bowman is really a part of Myanmar. She was ambassador 2000 to 2006. She
then married a Burmese man, an artist and also a former political prisoner. He was very much a part of the student pro-democracy protests in 1988.
He has been in and out of prison, on the wrong side of the military as well. So you have that part of it.
So it certainly is interesting that this should come at this time. Of course, there have been many of the 1988 uprising students who have been
arrested since the military took power in that bloody coup back in February of last year. So there really are a number of reasons, a number of
motivations by the military to take this step. Becky.
ANDERSON: Paula Hancocks is on the story, she's out of Seoul, South Korea. She's been tracking the news out of Myanmar now for the past five years,
since, of course, sadly, the start of that Rohingya genocide. And the sobering anniversary on that is today.
Coming up later on CONNECT THE WORLD, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council joins me. Jan Egeland says the Rohingya crisis
has reached a dangerous tipping point. I'll ask him about his recent trip to a refugee camp in Bangladesh that is now housing 1 million displaced
Rohingya. That is ahead in just over an hour.
You could call it an education in awkwardness for U.S. President Joe Biden. His administration is getting an earful today after Mr. Biden unveiled a
plan to write off millions of dollars in federal student loans. The idea, at least, is to help poorer students climb out from under a mountain of
college debt. Take a listen to this perspective.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will never apologize for helping Americans working, working America's middle class, especially not
to the same folks who voted for a $2 trillion dollar tax cut that mainly benefited the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Supporters say the plan is trying to address inequality. But the NAACP describes it this way: like pouring a bucket of ice water on a
forest fire. The critics say it's not fair to U.S. taxpayers, who couldn't afford to university degree.
And looming over all of this, the plan's potential impact on the world's biggest economy. CNN's Matt Egan is tracking this from New York.
I think it's important at this point to explain, who will be benefiting from the debt forgiveness. Just walk us through some of the numbers.
MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR WRITER: Yes, Becky, this debt forgiveness announcement, this is a big deal for millions of Americans.
The Biden administration says they're going to forgive up to $10,000 of student debt for people who make up to $125,000 a year, $250,000 for
couples. And low income borrowers, who went to college on Pell grants, will get up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness.
The White House estimates that up to 43 million borrowers are going to receive relief from this plan. That includes the elimination of the full
remaining balance for about 20 million people.
This is a big deal because we know a lot of people are struggling with high debt. All of these loans, it's meant for some people that they haven't been
able to move out of their parents' house or they haven't been able to buy their own home or start a family.
Now at the same time, the Biden administration has announced that they are going to, one more time, extend this freeze in federal student debt
payments. It was enacted in March 2020; it's been going on, if the president didn't take any action, that people would have had to start
paying their bills at the end of this month.
It is important, though, to note that, as you said, there has been criticism. This is a compromise from the president. We've heard from some
on the Left, including the NAACP, saying this didn't go far enough.
EGAN: Some progressives wanted the president to wipe out $50,000 of student debt. Also, on the Right, we've heard from some Republicans and
some moderate Democrats saying this shouldn't be happening at all. So in a lot of ways, this is a compromise. Hence why the president is getting
criticism from both sides.
ANDERSON: And this was always going to be one that was difficult to get consensus on across the aisle. But it's interesting to see that the
Democratic Party itself is in some turmoil about this.
It was interesting; I was just looking at one commentator's perspective on this. They were pointing out that it's often quite difficult, very rare
that you would see "The Wall Street Journal" opinion page and "The Washington Post" opinion page sharing a position.
Today, "the half-trillion dollar student loan executive coup" is how "The Wall Street Journal's" opinion page highlights this. "Biden's student loan
writeoff is an abuse of power that favors college grads at the expense of plumbers and FedEx drivers," "The Washington Post's" opinion page
headlining, "Biden's student loan announcement is a regressive, expensive mistake."
Will this ultimately worsen inflation?
Because that is a big deal at this point, isn't it?
EGAN: Yes, Becky, that is one of the main criticisms here. We are hearing it from, as you mentioned, not just Republicans but also some moderate
Democrats; Tim Ryan, a Democrat Senate candidate in Ohio was very critical of this. Listen to what Mitch McConnell said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I think it's a bad idea. An awful lot of Americans choose not to go to college. Then there are those
Americans who borrowed money to pay for school and paid it back.
In what way is it fair to those taxpayers?
So I think, fundamentally, when we borrow money, we ought to pay it back. And I don't think the government ought to be forgiving these student loans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EGAN: So, Becky, there is the -- this fairness argument, there is also the inflation fear. I talked to Mark Zandi, Moody's economist. He really threw
cold water on this idea that forgiving student debt is going to cause runaway inflation.
By itself, he said, it would marginally lift inflation. But if you pair it with the lifting of the moratorium on federal student debt payments, it's
actually, he says, going to be a net deflationary impact on the economy.
We're talking about a very small impact, not 1 percentage point, not half a percentage point, not even 0.1 percent. Becky, I think this is an example
of a policy that is a big deal for millions of people. But when you zoom out and look at the economy as a whole, it's going to be hard to measure
ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Thanks, Matt.
The man Biden beat in the presidential election is in more hot water. The U.S. Justice Department has less than two hours to submit its recommended
redactions from the affidavit for the search of former president Donald Trump's home.
A Florida judge will at some point decide what should be redacted and released, if anything. The affidavit details why investigators thought a
crime involving classified documents could have been committed and why evidence could be found at Mar-a-Lago.
This all comes to CNN learns that Trump era documents were not returned to the government at the end of his presidency. Even the White House lawyer
thought they should be. CNN's John Harwood joining us live from Washington.
It does seem like such a momentous moment, this, with this whole search of the former president's home. Let's take a step back. Just check in where we
are with U.S. politics at the moment.
We just talked about pushing this Biden plan through on student debt. We have that going on. We've got the primaries going on, a kind of mood test
about where Donald Trump's influence is.
You know, you've been covering politics for an awfully long time. I want to pick your brains today and get your assessment, your perspective, to what's
going on in U.S. politics at this point.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, let's take a couple of different timeframes.
First of all, in 2022, Joe Biden had been looking at the historical norm, which is a major setback in the first midterm election for a new president.
This happened to Ronald Reagan, happened to Bill Clinton, happened to Barack Obama.
All the signs, his low approval ratings, concerns about inflation indicated that he was facing the same thing.
However, over the last couple of months, political conditions in the United States have changed for multiple reasons. Probably the most important
single factor is that Supreme Court decision overturning the 50-year constitutional right to abortion.
HARWOOD: This has energized supporters of abortion rights, who are vastly, disproportionately Democrats. That has improved Democratic performance in
some elections and raised enthusiasm.
Also the revelations from the January 6 committee, which paint Republicans and president Trump in an increasingly negative light in terms of having
inspired an insurrection against American democracy and the verdict of the voters.
You also have a Republican Party that has been extreme on a range of fronts politically and in defense of Donald Trump, defending his dishonest
statements about the 2020 election. All of those things have improved the picture for Democrats.
We're looking at a competitive election here. And then, of course, beyond that, Becky, we have the prospects that Donald Trump might try to run again
against Joe Biden. He's got a lot of legal difficulties.
That's why it's a very tough balancing task for that Florida judge in deciding how much of the information from that affidavit to release, at a
time when there is concern that the president, the former president of the United States, had deliberately withheld highly classified documents for
reasons that none of us quite know at the moment.
The Justice Department may know more but we'll have to find that out over time.
ANDERSON: And we will wait to see. John. We will lean heavily on you for the benefit of our international viewers, as we move toward these midterms
on November the 8th. What goes on in the States doesn't, of course, stay in the states.
It was meant to crack down on cyber criminals but there is now growing concern a new law in Sierra Leone is instead being used to hunt down those
who speak out against the government. More on that, after this.
ANDERSON: Welcome back, it's just after half past 3 in London. I'm Becky Anderson. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.
In Sierra Leone, the government is facing accusations that it sees a new cybercrime law as a legal cover to crack down on political dissent. This
law was supported by the U.K. and the European Union.
But European officials say it was never meant to be used against free speech. CNN's Katie Polglase has the story. A warning: some of the video
is disturbing to watch.
POLGLASE (voice-over): On August 10, in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, people took to the streets to protest a worsening cost of living crisis.
Rising food shortages have left over half the population without enough food to eat according to the World Food Programme.
Protesters held rocks, set buses alight. Authorities were quick to condemn the destruction which they said left eight officers dead with the president
of Sierra Leone labeling the protesters as terrorists.
POLGLASE (voice-over): There was no mention of the number of civilians killed, which Reuters reported as high as 21.
But it was the severe police crackdown both on the streets and online that has revealed worrying signs of a government suppressing freedom of speech.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Don't destroy the cars please. Move from here.
POLGLASE: The voice you're hearing is of 20-year-old Gibrilla Kojo (ph) sitting on his balcony. He calls for those running past to be careful and
not damaged the cars parked below. Just over an hour later, Gibrilla would be dead.
His friend, David, whose name we have changed to protect his identity, witnessed the shooting and says Gibrilla was shot in the neck by Sierra
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was totally harmless. He was not even part of the protest. He was t the balcony watching the protesters.
POLGLASE: David's videos of the events are rare and risky. He told CNN he believes it was the sight of him and his friend filming that made them a
target for police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moment before Gibrilla died, I told him that they were firing live rounds, we need to back off, we need to get inside. But he
insisted. He said they were firing rubber bullets. But it was live rounds.
POLGLASE: CNN analyzed the bullet casing found at the scene which was confirmed by weapons experts to be from live ammunition. The police have
made no comment on whether they did use live bullets during the protests.
David's filming two hours before Gibrilla's death reveals armed police standing on the streets below. You can see the red hats indicating it's the
Operational Support Division, an armed unit of the police which according to Amnesty International, has a track record for shooting unarmed
protesters dating back to 2007.
As other scenes of injured and bloody protesters across Freetown began to be shared on social media, the internet was cut off. By midday, just half
an hour after Gibrilla's death, NetBlocks recorded a total shutdown of the internet, activity NetBlocks identified as an intentional disruption.
The next day, a statement was issued by the government's department for cyber-security, warning that anyone spreading incendiary information online
could be punished with up to 20 years in prison.
And the basis for this threat was a new cybersecurity law introduced in 2021 and backed by the E.U., U.K. and the Council of Europe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To sign into law today the Cybersecurity and Crime Act.
POLGLASE (voice-over): The law had aimed to safeguard intellectual property and privacy online and was part of a broader initiative by the
E.U. and U.K. to fund projects across Africa that tackled cybercrime. In statements to CNN, the E.U. and U.K. delegations to Sierra Leone said they
were engaging with the government on freedom of speech and protest.
The delegation encouraged all measures which lead to dialogue and refrain from repressive measures, the E.U. said. And the Council of Europe said the
spreading of incendiary information is not listed in the offences under the act.
POLGLASE: Do you think it's what the U.K. and the E.U. intended for this law to be used by?
WISLAW GOZDZIEWICZ, FORMER LEGAL ADVISER, NATO: Definitely not.
I mean, neither the E.U. which is founded upon the basic principles of human rights and nor any democratic states in the world, including the
United Kingdom, would even consider an attempt to limit the freedom of speech in such a manner.
POLGLASE (voice-over): Reporters Without Borders told CNN any repressive provision of freedom of expression online must be repealed. And said they
called on authorities in Sierra Leone to highlight the fact the act should not interfere with the rights to freedom of expression.
And for many in Sierra Leone who spoke to CNN, they said this law made them fearful to use social media to document what they witnessed during the
August 10th protests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't want you guys to see it, the foreign medias. They don't want the foreign medias to be seeing these videos.
POLGLASE: Do you feel scared right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, yes. Of course, yes. I am actually expecting a physical assault.
POLGLASE (voice-over): Katie Polglase, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: CNN reached out to the government officials in Sierra Leone for comment regarding this new cybersecurity law and also the Amnesty
International report that we highlighted there. We have not heard back as of yet.
Ahead on the show, an update on the Chinese tennis star and what the president of the International Tennis Federation is saying about her in a
CNN interview. That is coming up after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON (voice-over): The late opera great Luciano Pavarotti has been honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame 15 years after he passed
away. His daughter accepted the accolade on behalf of the family and said her father would've been ecstatic by the recognition.
Besides being one of the most famous opera singers of the 20th century, Pavarotti sang live in an astounding 378 performances. Wow.