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Union Leaders: Protests will Continue if Bill is not Withdrawn; France Braces for Ruling on Plan to Raise Retirement Age; Suspect in Classified Documents Leak Formally Charged; Saudi Arabia Holds Talks with Houthis for Ceasefire; Sony Announces "Photographer of the Year"; CNN Follows Migrants on Five-Day Journey through Darien Gap. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 14, 2023 - 11:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR & SENIOR SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hello, we begin with breaking news this hour. As we've been reporting in the past few

minutes the suspect in the leak of highly classified U.S. military secrets has been charged. 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, who's an air man in the U.S.

National Guard, is facing charges relating to the unauthorized retention and transmission of National Defense Information and the unauthorized

removal and retention of such material.

We'll have much more on that in a few minutes with our team at the Pentagon as well as our law enforcement and intelligence analysts. Now France is

bracing as it waits to find out whether a controversial pension reform plan passes muster with the nation's highest Constitutional Court.

A crucial ruling in Paris could come as soon as next hour. The bill has triggered waves of strikes and demonstrators are back on the streets. As

you can see, in some of these live pictures we have coming into CNN this hour some clashes on Thursday between police and protesters turned violent.

Demonstrators are furious because the plan would raise the retirement age to 64 from 62 and require people to have worked at least 43 years to

receive full benefits. We have a team coverage in Paris. CNN's Nada Bashir is outside the Constitutional Council. But first let's go to Fred Pleitgen

who's near the Louvre.

And Fred, I'm sure the atmosphere is getting tensor by the hour there, or whatever the outcome we're going to hear today, is this likely to quell

protests and the strength of feeling over these pension reforms?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you ask the protesters, they certainly say that it won't take you around a little

bit. As you can see, we do have a bit of a crowd going here. Now it's been forming in the last couple of minutes. Now, this is really one of those

protests marches that were taking place before that's now ended here. We've actually moved on from the Louvre.

We're now in front of City Hall, here in Paris. And you can see it's quite a loud, large, loud crowd. Not a very large crowd yet, but it is one that's

gathering. And I think one of the things that you said is absolutely correct. The anger is also building as we're getting closer to the hour of

that decision being announced by the Constitutional Council.

And you know, one of the things that the folks here, keep telling us is, no matter what the decision is going to be, they want to come out and continue

to protest further, they want to come out in the coming days in the coming months. Because of course they are against this law, they are against

rising the pension age from 62 to 64.

But it's also the way that Emmanuel Macron, the President of this country has pushed this reform law through. They obviously say, the fact that he

essentially bypass legislative process, he's a big problem for a lot of people. Now, it's interesting to see the makeup of the crowd that you see

here, because this is really a mix of student groups, and also trade unions.

And especially the fact that you have so many young people here on the street, kind of shows that all of this has morphed a little bit from being

just about the pension reform to really being anger at the way that Emmanuel Macron conducts business as president of this country, and

specifically, the way that this pension reform was pushed through.

So that's certainly the anger that the people here say they want to bring to the streets. And you know we were speaking a little bit about yesterday

about some of the violence that we saw on the fringes of that protest. Certainly, so far, we've seen none of that we were seeing this March, as it

was coming towards here, all of that very peaceful right now, the folks here, very loud, very colorful, but very peaceful as well.

But certainly, once that decision is announced, and especially, of course, if the constitutional if the Constitutional Council deems that law to be

constitutional, then you will see a lot of anger here on the street. Obviously, the trade unions, for instance, saying this is definitely not

the end of it's quite interesting because Emmanuel Macron had offered to speak to the Trade Unions next week.

So far, they're saying they don't want to speak to him before May 1. So, this is certainly something that will go on, the discussions will go on in

the society in France, because of course, as we know, this law, this proposed law, very unpopular among a lot of people here in this country.

MACFARLANE: And Fred, if these reforms are allowed to stand today, but changes are brought, are there any circumstances under which demonstrators

would accept any change? I'm thinking perhaps about the reform referendum that would potentially enable the pension reform to be halted or considered

more broadly.

PLEITGEN: Yes, that's considered to be a bit of a last-ditch effort by some of the especially left-wing groups in Parliament. They've asked also for

the Constitutional Council to allow a referendum to take place. But the hurdles for that are extremely high. Even if something like that is allowed

first of all would have to be debated in Parliament again has to collect a lot of signatures for a referendum like that to actually take place.


Nevertheless, however, the trade unions specifically are saying that we're going to fight this reform tooth and nail; they don't want us to forward

the fundamental issue. And it's something where they say they are going to continue to go on the street. And they're going to continue to make their

presence felt.

And one of the things, of course, they have been floating is sort of the idea of trying to get some sort of referendum going on this law, because

they understand that about two thirds of the French population are against this law. They don't want this to happen. It's something that Emmanuel

Macron has said he wants to push through; it's one of the main legislative efforts of his second term in office.

And he said it's absolutely fundamental to his agenda in the second term in office. So, you can see those two sides squaring off, it's already done.

Big political damage to Emmanuel Macron despite the fact that he is in his second term right now, it makes it very difficult to for him to govern, and

to actually take on any larger legislative issues in the remaining years that he has in office.

MACFARLANE: Yes, that's a good point. Fred, thank you for now! Let's turn to CNN's Nada Bashir, who's standing by for us outside the Constitutional

Council, which has barricades around it now. Nada, let's just back up a minute and walk us through the options the council, we will be weighing

today, and what is the most likely outcome to happen here?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look, of course, as Fred mentioned, as the union's want, they want this legislation to be struck down by the

Constitutional Council, but it is widely anticipated that that won't be the case. And there are two clear avenues that the Constitutional Council may

take this evening, that vote set to be announced in the next hour or so they could potentially uphold this legislation as constitutional allow it

to pass through.

The other option also they have is to allow the legislation to pass through but with amendments. So, there might be some aspects of this legislation of

this reform that they find to be unconstitutional, that will require changing and amending before it can be fully green lit and brought into

law. But of course, if the legislation is passed, if it is upheld and found to be constitutional, and we've already heard from a spokesperson

from the Elysee, who said that President Emmanuel Macron is looking to sign this legislation into law as early as this weekend.

So that could, of course be a spark of anger and frustration for many of the trade union members who have been protesting now for 12 rounds of

demonstrations. This is a significant moment. We are expecting the announcement shortly. And of course, if this is green lit, we will continue

to see that angle.

We've heard from the trade union leaders, we've heard from the protesters yesterday have all said that they will continue to protest against this

reform in some form or other. The government has already said that if this is green lit and goes through, they will invite the trade union members to

the Elysee to speak with the government next Tuesday.

But we will have already seen efforts and negotiation between the government and the trade unions. We saw talks between President Emmanuel

Macron, the Prime Minister with union members, they still they haven't gone anywhere, the government refusing to move from its position.

And of course, the trade union members also refusing to back down, they are completely against the proposal to rise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

But also, of course there is that anger being directed towards President Emmanuel Macron. And the government's decision to push this legislation

through by bypassing the lower house of parliament, bypassing that final vote many telling us that they feel this is a threat. It undermines the

principle of democracy here in France.

So clearly, there is a lot of frustration and anger being directed towards President Emmanuel Macron, who already isn't doing well when it comes to

that polling data. And of course, we will continue to see those demonstrations.

But if you see behind me, you can see that the Constitutional Council has these protective barriers that have been put in place, not unprecedented

given the violence that we saw yesterday with pockets of violence rather, at the demonstration yesterday. But this isn't something you would

typically see outside the Constitutional Council and there is still a heavy police presence.

Protesters have been told that they aren't allowed to demonstrate in this area. And of course, over the last 12 rounds of protests, we have seen the

numbers of people coming out to the streets dwindling. But they are still significant figures, 380,000 people across France just yesterday 42,000, at

least here in Paris.

And we did see those tensions are scuffled between police officers, riot police and the protestors that it is anticipated that we will continue to

see small pockets of protests like where Fred is right now taking place throughout the day. And there is the anticipation that there could

potentially be small pockets of violence here in Paris if this legislation is green lit Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes, clearly people very angry perhaps even more so by the way this bill has been pushed through, as you say they're Nada outside the

council will wait for the outcome of that vote in the next hour. Thank you. Well as Nada has been saying, central to the matter of pension reform is

President Emmanuel Macron himself.


For more, let's bring in Celia Belin. She's a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and Head of its Paris office. Thank

you so much for joining us, Celia. We know that President Macron is facing political tests, both at home and abroad at the moment. And I want to deal

with each of those separately with you at first on the issue of pension reform.

However, the votes goes today, how can and should Macron proceed from this point to bring about an end to this social crisis within France? Because as

we've been hearing from our reporters, they're, you know, this is set to continue today, regardless of the outcome.

CELIA BELIN, SENIOR POLICY FELLOW, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Yes, thank you, Christina. Where it shows today is also the difficulty to

govern for Emmanuel Macron without majority. As you know, his party for Nissan's has lost the legislative elections last year. And so, it's

extremely difficult for the prime minister and the current governments that are of Macron's party to govern without any coalition without any coalition


And so, this, if the Constitutional Court does indeed roll this, this law to be legal, Macron will sign it into law this weekend. But it will surely

lack political legitimacy. The trades union is claiming that they have the popular legitimacy because two thirds of the French are opposed to this, to

this reform and the trade union are opposed to it by and large. But Emmanuel Macron is claiming electoral legitimacy for being elected last

year as president.

MACFARLANE: I mean, at the core of this issue is the need for reform. And I just want to play you and our viewers, a small snippet from France's

minister for economics, who spoke to our Richard Quest yesterday about the need for reform, take a listen to this.


BRUNO LE MAIRE, FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER: I will not say that the -- is an easy is growing, we have violence in the street, I strongly condemn all

violence. But nevertheless, the process is going on and we are waiting for the very last decision or the French import tomorrow. I just want to

emphasize how vital this reform is for our pension system.

We have a very efficient, very generous pension system. But we need to ensure to the French citizen, that there is a financial balance by 2030.

This is the purpose of the reform.


MACFARLANE: So, Celia, France has an aging population. And it's known that the current pension retirement age will not suffice to support that aging

demographic. So, at the core of this is a really important issue that needs to be addressed. How much do you think the French people understand that

and how much of that has really been set aside because of the manner in which Macron has behaved here?

BELIN: To be honest, the French people have engaged with this issue and Emmanuel Macron has supported rise of the retirement age already during his

presidential campaign last year. And so, you know, the French people have had some time to think about that. But since the beginning of this process,

a trade union has been unified against this increase.

And the president has not spent time explaining his reform to the general public. The only time he really fully addressed it was after taking the

decision to bypass the National Assembly and going for article 49/3 that allows him to push through the law, provoking a no confidence vote that

then his party subsequently, his government subsequently won.

But he hasn't spent much time explaining the details and explaining the rationale. And what the minister here is, is saying is an argument of

authority. We need it in terms of budget, we need it for Europe. If that's really the case, I believe this government should have spent a bit more

time being pedagogic with the French people because we are, you know, three years after the crisis of COVID.

We have lived through a year of war in Ukraine, high inflation, difficult energy, high prices. The French need to know why this type of sacrifice

should be made at this point. And I think with more explanation, more advocacy for the law, it would have helped and potentially with better

negotiations we would not also be in this impasse.


MACFARLANE: Celia separately, there has been well concern over macrons comments internationally. In fact, there was huge blowback really against

his comments over China and Taiwan in the recent, in the last week. Macron, saying Europe should not just become followers of the U.S.

This is not the first time Macron has spoken provocatively over issues where he is not aligned with his allies. Yes, I'm thinking of comments he's

made about NATO in the past, pushing for dialogue with Russia, for instance. Why is Macron so often out of step with his allies in crucial

moments like this?

BELIN: Well, I will make maybe sort of a counter intuitive point here, comparing the foreign policy to the domestic policy of President Macron. In

many ways, the president is convinced that he's right. He's convinced that whatever he's advocating on one side is the pension reform, to necessary in

his opinion for the French budget.

On the other side, is the European strategic autonomy and having an independent European voice in the world stage. In both cases, he lays out

his vision and lies out, you know, and sometimes takes decision, but do not necessarily take people along with his thinking. And he has not taken along

the French people with this thinking on the pension reform.

But clearly, he has not taken along the allies, European allies, and even less American allies, in convincing them that European strategic autonomy

is absolutely crucial and needed at this point. And there was just on this particular instance of the China comments, there was also a question of

timing and a question of optics that were probably poorly chosen, commenting on European strategic autonomy, including on Taiwan, while

leaving China gave a very negative signal for American allies and confused a lot of Europeans as well.

MACFARLANE: It's an interesting point, Celia that he's in some ways facing the same problems at home and abroad because of his approach to the job in

general. It's great to have your insight, you know, at this crucial juncture as we wait for this pension reform decision, appreciate your time.

Thank you.

BELIN: Thank you, Christina.

MACFARLANE: All right, next described as a loner, fascinated by war and weapons. Now, in court over a massive military intelligence breach, we're

live from the Pentagon with more on that case, and what it means for U.S. intelligence as a whole, stay with CNN.



MACFARLANE: A reminder of our breaking news this hour. The suspect in the leak of highly classified U.S. military secrets has appeared in court and

has been formally charged. 21-year-old Jack Teixeira who was an airman in the Massachusetts National Guard is facing two charges for allegedly

posting the documents online.

We're learning that the charges are the unauthorized retention and transmission of National Defense Information and the unauthorized removal

and retention of such material. The judge schedules a detention hearing for Teixeira on Wednesday. Teixeira did not enter a formal plea. Let's get more

on the reaction from the Pentagon. This hour Natasha Bertrand is there. Natasha, is there anything more you can tell us about these charges? And

what they mean exactly?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, so these are charges that relate obviously to the allegation that he took these classified

documents from his place of work at the Air National Guard in Massachusetts and then posted them online. He essentially removed this classified

information from the secure setting where it was supposed to be stored.

And he posted them in a forum where other people who were not authorized to see this highly classified information, were able to review them. Now we

are told that he had a top-secret clearance and that he has had that since around 2021. He also had a clearance that allowed him to view Sensitive

Compartmented Information, which is extremely, extremely classified information having to do with some of the U.S. government's most sensitive

intelligence programs.

And we are told that this really was a clearance that was given to him by virtue of his work with the Air National Guard within an intelligence unit

of the guard. So, he specifically worked in an intelligence facility where he had exposure to this kind of highly classified information.

Now what is unclear at this point is whether he was dealing with these sensitive documents on a day-to-day basis themselves in terms of the work

that he was doing, because we are told that and according to the FBI and the affidavit here, he was actually a person that dealt with information

technology and security.

So essentially like an IT person for this wing of the Air National Guard. So, the idea that you had a top-secret clearance and that he was viewing

this stuff doesn't necessarily mean that he had a need to do that. So, part of what investigators will be examining here is whether he sought out that

information just specifically in order to leak it on this group chat.

But clearly a lot of damage here has been done, according to the U.S. government in terms of exposing highly sensitive national security secrets.

According to The Washington Post, he posted over 300 of these documents over the course of several months. The FBI says he began exposing this

classified information in December of last year, Christina?

MACFARLANE: Natasha, thank you for now, we know that the ramifications of this case go well beyond the confines of the U.S. intelligence community

that Natasha was just outlining there. Let's bring in John Miller, CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst to discuss the wider impact

of what's unfolding. I know, John, so many questions circulating around this not just about his age and his low rank and how someone of this

standing to get hold of these papers.

But I'm interested to learn more about the investigation, the arrest and how they tracked down this suspect, because we've been learning that

various media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times already had the information of the which the suspect was before the

FBI arrested him. Was this considered to be a quick or a slow response from the FBI to this?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, from the FBI standpoint, it's lightning fast. They had an espionage case, you

know; think of the Robert Hanssen case the FBI turncoat or the Edward Snowden case. You know, these cases can take months. And if you don't know

who a mole is sometimes years, in this case, it took five days.

The problem is and I think you framed it in the question is, you've got two fields of investigation. One is delving into the classified systems and

looking for the trail of the leaker that the FBI and Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the DOD could do. What you have that makes his

case unusual is you have an entirely separate social media trail, which reporters were on and kind of making their way through where were these

things posted?

Where were they posted before that kind of finding their way back to that discord chat group, where these documents originally came from? And it

basically became a race; you have the FBI setting up surveillance on the suspect's house at dawn yesterday waiting for him to go to work.


At the same time, you have reporters showing up and knocking on the door and publishing his name in the paper. So, the FBI had to move faster than

they wished. And go right in. The key, though, was over the weekend, going into Monday and Tuesday, a young man, a teenager, in the West Coast of the

United States, who agreed to cooperate with investigators and said he was part of the chat group, had conversations with Jack Teixeira. And was able

to get them to the point they had probable cause to go to a judge and say, let's wear out this arrest warrant.

MACFARLANE: Yes, it's moved very quickly since then. And John to that point, you know, Jack Teixeira is not an Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning,

as far as we know, you know, acting with intent of being a whistle-blower, as far as we know, at this stage is a 21-year-old doing this, reportedly to

impress a group of online gaming friends.

And the Pentagon say or have said that age isn't really a factor here in their view, and they are reviewing the situation but should it be, you

know, when we consider who is given access to such classified information?

MILLER: You know, it's a, it's an interesting question, because if you look at, you know, the military of any country, Great Britain, the United

States, you pick, you know, they recruit young people. And you know, a kid like Jack Teixeira signs on for either a four-year enlistment or a six-year

enlistment, and then they give them enormous amounts of training.

And they give them enormous amounts of trust, if they're working in the intelligence field, enormous amounts of responsibility and risk if they're

working on the battlefield. This is where the militaries of the world get their people, you know, just out of high school just out of college, and

thousands and thousands -- and thousands of them perform up to the oath that they took when they joined.

And every now and then you see one of these anomalies on the part of a soldier or a military contractor, where you see one of these leaks, but

they're very rare. And yet, when they happen, they can be extraordinarily damaging.

MACFARLANE: Yes, and prompt reviews and changes that no doubt will shape the intelligence community going forward. John, it's great to have your

perspective on this. Thank you. Now an important ruling is expected out of France today. Just ahead we'll go live to Paris to see what the decision

could mean for workers. And today hundreds of prisoners across Yemen are being freed. After the break I'll speak to the regional director of the

International Red Cross which is coordinating the exchange.



MACFARLANE: Welcome back to "Connect the World". A massive prisoner exchange began today in Yemen. Some 300 detainees have already been

released, you can see some of them arriving in the capital of Sanaa, and they're just in front of you. By the end of the operation more than 700

Houthis and 180 from the side of the Yemeni government are due to be freed.

The conflict in Yemen is multifunctional but over the past eight years, the fighting has been primarily between the Houthis and the Saudi led

coalition. Let's have a look at how we got here. In 2011 political unrest rocked the country during the Arab Spring and eventually forced out the

president. By 2014, the Houthi rebel group backed by Iran took over the Capitol.

The following year, Saudi Arabia intervened to contain the Houthis driving the country into a full-fledged war. In April 2022 the United Nations

brokered a ceasefire that is largely held ever since. And just this Sunday, a Saudi envoy was in Yemen to negotiate a permanent ceasefire with Houthi


The International Committee for the Red Cross has been coordinating efforts for the prisoner swap. And I have the near and Middle East Director

Fabrizio Carboni joining me now live from Geneva. Good to see you. We know this exchange had been delayed throughout the week. But as we've just been

seeing and images there prisoners are being released. What were the holdups? And how did you work them out to get to the point where we are


FABRIZIO CARBONI, ICRC REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NEAR AND MIDDLE EAST: I mean, the main skills, I think its patient, especially when you involve in such a

complex operation. You know, you need to fly people, you know, across borders across front lines. You also know that we need to visit all the

detainees before the release, because we need to make sure that they are fit to fly, we need to make sure that they want to be released and that

they don't fear for the physical integrity once they go back.

So, there is a logistic dimension, which is not easy. And obviously, there are always delays, hiccups and things which are not foreseen. So, need to

be patient and at the very same time, very flexible, because we need to adjust to the reality of Yemen.

MACFARLANE: Yes. And we know these negotiations have been going on for many months. Today is a small step, but a significant victory. What do you know,

for -- about the conditions, these prisoners were being held in on both sides, and how many people are still detained?

CARBONI: When it comes to the number of people detained, and also the condition of detention, this is usually information we keep for a

confidential dialogue with the authorities. What we know is that today, we've released 300, by the end of the operation, around 900 people are

going to be released.

In parallel to this, we continue visiting the places of detention, where the remaining detainees are still held, and we make sure that the condition

of detention is acceptable. Now, it's obvious that you know, when you are detained for several years with the regular contact with your family, even

if in, you know, advanced country, it takes a toll on people to be detained.

So, it's not a surprise to see people you know, in some time difficult, emotional and physical condition is just because prison, wherever you are

around the world is a difficult situation and so very happy that those people are released.

MACFARLANE: Yes. I mentioned that Saudi officials were in Yemen earlier this week to discuss a possibility of a permanent ceasefire. I wonder how

hopeful are you that a permanent ceasefire will be reached between the Houthis and Saudi Arabian? Do you think this will lead to peace across the

country given all those different warring factions within?

CARBONI: Look, I think from a humanitarian perspective, we don't ask ourselves whether it will happen or not. Our approach is it needs to

happen. You know, I think what we want to pass as a message to all the parties involved in the conflict is that Yemeni people don't have time

anymore. And so, what we've seen in the last to be honest, last year will be the ceasefire.

Now the negotiation is very positive. The release you know, the release which is taking place now which is part of the confidence building measures

of the Stockholm agreement is also an element which creates a space which creates a conducive environment for ceasefire and a peace process.


And we all know that this requires a lot of courage, and a lot of political courage from the parties involved. And what we've seen over the last days

and weeks is going in the very right direction.

MACFARLANE: Yes, I mean, these talks are a positive development. What we're seeing today is a positive development. But we shouldn't forget that there

is still so much suffering across the country, right, a devastating humanitarian crisis, the U.N. estimates some 6 million are on the brink of

famine. What are the ICRC's operations on the ground at the moment to address that, and how much funding is needed given the scale?

CARBONI: No, first of all, thank you for asking this question. Because I think it's very important. We have good news today something very positive

for many people, for the Yemeni people, for the detainees, their family. But at the very same time, we cannot ignore that Yemen will require long

term attention.

Even if today, there was a peace agreement signed just now, we would still have many years of engagement because the humanitarian consequences of this

conflict. And on top of the humanitarian consequences of the violence and the conflict, you also have the climate crisis. You also have a situation

of under development, which really brings most of the Yemeni on the brink of total collapse.

So really important that we focus on the long term, really important to not forget that Yemen is multilayer crisis and deep crisis and the third one is

the funding. I mean, for the ICRC is the first time in 11 years that we are underfunded in Yemen. It's us, but it's also other humanitarian actors.

It's also local actors who are affected by this situation, if I have to think about the Yemeni Red Crescent, who plays a very critical role in


They are also affected by this underfunding. And, and this is obviously worrying, because what we've seen the positive dynamic, we see now needs

also to be translated into a better living condition for the Yemeni people. And there the humanitarian action and the work we are all doing

collectively, is critical and an undefended humanitarian operation is a concern for the people. And it's a concern for the whole humanitarian

political environment, which would lead to a more peaceful and stable Yemen.

MACFARLANE: Yes, it's an important point. And just to end on a hopeful note, I know that your organization was facilitating phone calls for some

of these detainees home today. I'm sure that was. There have been many, quite moving moments within that. But we appreciate you coming on and

talking to us about the continuing challenges the Red Cross faces within the country and of course, the people themselves. Thank you.

CARBONI: Thank you very much.

MACFARLANE: And for more on how talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia are progressing, you can head to our Meanwhile in the Middle East

newsletter, today's edition will have an interview with a high-ranking Houthi official involved in those negotiations.

It's a really important inside look at what's happening on the ground, and you can sign up for that newsletter at Tensions are high

in France today where a crucial ruling on the country's pension age is expected shortly. The nation's highest Constitutional Court is set to

decide later today on that reform bill.

The court could approve it suggest a few changes or even toss it out altogether. If approved, it would raise the retirement age which has not

been welcomed by many French. Well, massive protests have been taking place across the country over those changes. Joining us now live from Paris is

CNN's Fred Pleitgen. Fred, talk to us about the scene there, the tension ahead of this announcement.

PLEITGEN: Yes, the announcement that's set to be made in about 25 minutes Christina, I can show you. I think we smoke about half an hour ago. And the

crowd here has really grown since then, as you can see, the sort of square in front of the city hall here in Paris is pretty much full of protesters.

Now a lot of them coming from these one of the main sort of Trade Unions excuse me here in this country, but there's also a lot of student groups as

well. And as you can see, they are very, very loud things are very colorful, but at the same time, it is also very peaceful. That was one of

the things that we were talking about yesterday.

You know, there were some of these outbursts of violence that we saw at that massive demonstration yesterday. But by and large things happen fairly

peaceful. And certainly, today they have been completely peaceful, but at the same time the people here say that they want to make clear that they

are absolutely serious about their opposition to this, this reform of the pensions.


And one of the things for them is, of course, the fact that the pension age is set to be raised from 62 to 64. But really, the way that Emmanuel Macron

has conducted himself in all of this is something that angers a lot of people.

And, you know, one of the things that we found very interesting having been here on the ground is, is the amount of young people who are out here, who

are saying that, in general, they believe that the way that Emmanuel Macron went through with all of this is something that they feel is not in line

with the legislative process here in this country.

And they want to show their opposition to that. And I think one of the things that we've also heard that is key from the protesters as well, as

they say, no matter what they're going to hear, in the next 25 minutes, when the Constitutional Council is set to announce its verdict on all of

this. They want to keep coming out and protesting because of the anger that they feel towards the French President, Christina.

MACFARLANE: Well, we will keep a close eye on proceedings. Fred, with you there that, as you say, set to be announced, we think within the next half

an hour. Thanks, Fred. All right, coming up why these photos, my next guest the award for Photographer of the Year, stay with us as we dive into the

themes and meanings behind the award-winning series.


MACFARLANE: Welcome back. While a lot of us may dabble with photography, myself included, very few of us get to be recognized as the world's best.

But Edgar Martins joining me here in London was just crowned as Sony's Photographer of the Year; he was selected out of a pool of 400,000 entries.

My goodness! Congratulations. Over 400,000 entries, have you had a chance to take it in yet?


MACFARLANE: Yes, I can imagine and today no doubt has been very busy for you. So, your series Our War, I know was inspired and is a tribute to your

friend Anton Hammerl who was shot while covering the war in Libya. Just walk us through how he has inspired and shaped this series.

MARTINS: OK, so that's the personal dimension to the work. I had, there's I guess you could say three factors. First of all, I always thought about in

an era of fake news. How can you acknowledge the sort of imaginative dimension of our relationship with the photographs? That's always been very

important to me. Secondly, how can you talk about loss, trauma war without falling into the same tropes?

So those were, I guess my interests prior to, to what happened with Anton. Of course, in 2011 as you may know, Anton traveled to Libya with three of

the foreign reporters.


And a few days after arriving into the -- they were there to cover the clashes between pro and anti-Gaddafi militia. And a few days after arriving

in the country, they were forcefully abducted by Gaddafi back militia on the front line around the city of --. And we only really found out that

Anton been shot dead, and his body left in the desert when these colleagues were finally set free. So of course, this was quite traumatic for family

and friends.

For about 10 years, I guess if this was just a personal story, it wasn't a project to me. But the more I thought about this, and the more I thought

about these earlier questions that I mentioned, the more I thought that potentially it would be, it would make sense to kind of transform this into

a project of some sort.

MACFARLANE: Yes. And there's so much significance in these images, because as you mentioned, you know, you focused on not falling into the same

categorization the same tropes that you see in what images.


MACFARLANE: I just want to talk to some of these specific images.


MACFARLANE: Because they are so striking, this one, in particular, give us a bit of background on how you reach this image and who the individual is?

MARTINS: Yes, well, the individual's range, I don't usually identify them specifically within the images. And that's actually part of the approach

because one of the questions that I asked myself is photography is very good, unfortunately, at doing this. And when we talked about the tropes of

war, which is sometimes inadvertently misrepresenting or sometimes outright exploiting its subjects.

So, because I'm always very conscious of the power relations between photographer and subject and how the control is always with the

photographer, I decided to empower my subjects. So, I empowered my subjects by doing two things.

Firstly, I'm working with large format cameras, so I put them on a tripod, and I step away from the camera with the shutter release. And I literally

just allow my subjects to be in front of the camera relaxing familiarizing themselves with it. Sometimes we will talk about the project. Other times,

we just wouldn't even take any pictures.

But in the end, I would photograph them how they saw themselves being photographed. The other important thing to say, in terms of the choice of

the individuals is that there is not only the people that you dimension, so you call the usual suspects when you're talking about a project like this,

you know, militants, combatants, Gaddafi loyalists, you know, sort of Libyan dissidents, but there's also people enacting their stories.

And this was very important to me, because these aren't just any people. In some cases, they were the descendants of people that fought in the war, but

didn't have hadn't experienced directly the traumas of war. But who wanted to understand, you know, their nation's traumas, or their parent's traumas

and so on, are the times they were just local civilians.

And then I guess the big challenge was, you know, choosing the locations. And what I did, I ended up sort of retracing some of Anton steps, you know,

some of the places he visited.

MACFARLANE: It's a very personal journey. And you can just see from the composition of these pictures that viewers like myself, are going to

naturally look at war and conflict in a different way, which I guess was, you know, part and parcel of the reason you have done this.

It's an inspiring exhibition unfortunately; we can't talk more about it just now. But I know that people can go and see this. It is here in London,

and it opens tomorrow. But Edgar, it's really great to speak to you.

MARTINS: My pleasure, my pleasure.

MACFARLANE: And digging back your tribute to your friend, very moving.

MARTINS: Thank you so much.

MACFARLANE: Thank you.

MARTINS: Thank you.

MACFARLANE: All right, still to come, desperation and the hope for a better life in the U.S. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh tricks alongside migrants as they

crossed the perilous stretch of jungle known as the Darien Gap.



MACFARLANE: Welcome back. We want to take you now to the Darien Gap. It's a treacherous path connecting South America to Central America and one that

many migrants must cross to reach the United States. It requires migrants to track on foot carrying all their possessions hiking through the dense

jungle rushing waters and steep mountainsides.

Despite the danger the number of migrants on this trail just keeps growing. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and his team recently hiked the entire Darien Gap

over five days and encountered some extraordinary stories.

And Nick is joining me now to share more. Nick, I have watched this documentary in full and it is an extremely emotional watch. And jaw

dropping really to see what appear to be biblical scenes of people in the middle of a jungle in the Darien Gap. Talk to us about what that experience

was like for you and your team being in amongst those people.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's important to try and grasp just the volume of people who are trying this

crossing this track every day. Basic math makes you think probably most of the time there are five or 6000 people on these routes going through the

Darien Gap at any particular given time. And the day we began we're in a group of nearly a thousand.

So many of them children record numbers last year and all the signs in the first quarter of this year that they're heading for about seven times as

many compared to the year previously. So, staggering the volume here, here's a little of what we saw.


WALSH (voice over): The football shirts or porters each numbered charging to carry bags, even children uphill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey my kings, my queens, whoever feels tired, I'm here.

WALSH (voice over): But it doesn't always work out. Wilson is separated from his parents. A porter raced off ahead.

WALSH (on camera): My name is Nick, nice to meet you. You are here all by yourself?


WALSH (on camera): You're waiting for your parents? Where are they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are behind.

WALSH (on camera): Are you going to America? Where are you going?


WALSH (on camera): Miami, What do you like about Miami?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy is going to build a swimming pool.

WALSH (on camera): He will build a pool for you? What do you want to be when you grow up?


WALSH (on camera): What work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: School work. And my sister has chosen nurse.

WALSH (voice over): Nearly a thousand unaccompanied children were found on the route last year, the U.N. have said.


WALSH: Now, some good news. Wilson, you saw they're separated from his parents because they give him to a porter to assist them on the very

difficult uphill parts of some of this trek. Well, he did see him a couple of days later reunited with his family that isn't always the case. And so

many of the children we saw on this route themselves go through a very turbulent, difficult physical ordeal.

Some respond remarkably resiliently towards the physical challenge of all of this. But there was one 12-year-old girl who was disabled also suffered

from epileptic convulsions. She really struggled. But eventually, towards the end, we saw her being carried by a 27-year-old Venezuelan man for a

matter of days to get her to the end where boats could facilitate, for the journey.

And that's part of what's so staggering on this particular trek. The challenges people face, the physical ordeal is immense, but so are the

resources they seem to find in themselves to move themselves forwards, but also something spare, generous to help others around them.

And so, while so much of this is about the perils of the trek and the ordeal, people go through often corralled there by a cartel that makes it

sound less dangerous than it's going to be. So, they can get more money and more customers for their route. Fundamentally, something together binds

them together and moves them forward.

So, edifying to some degree whilst also been deeply depressing to see the bodies of murder victims, it seems left along the route there. And also, to

the ordeal people put themselves through to reach their dream of trying to get to the United States, Christina.


MACFARLANE: Yes, it is a difficult watch but an important one. Nick, we appreciate your reporting on this. And you can tune in to see the full

report from Nick Paton Walsh on the trek, a migrant trail to America. It will be featured on the premiere episode of the whole story with Anderson

Cooper airing first on Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern and you can also see it on Monday at 4 pm Eastern and 9 pm in London.

Now you're looking at live pictures of Paris, a city on edge, protesters are back on the streets. France's highest Constitutional Court will

announce its ruling on a hugely controversial pension reform bill imminently. We expect that to happen in just moments at the top of the

hour. And of course, CNN is keeping an eye out for that. Thank you so much for joining us though on "Connect the World". CNN continues after this

short break, stay with us.