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Wildfires Burn around the Globe; Israel's supreme court Will Not Block New Law; Putin to Discuss Ukraine with African Leaders; Kevin Spacey Found Not Guilty; Hunter Biden to Plead Guilty to Tax Charges. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 26, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Eleni Giokos, live from Abu Dhabi. I'm in for my colleague, Becky Anderson. This is
CONNECT THE WORLD.
Coming up this hour, deadly fires rage across southern Europe.
Israel's supreme court will not issue an injunction against a judicial overhaul law.
Joe Biden's son appears in court.
And the knockout stage shaping up at the Women's World Cup.
GIOKOS: All right, we begin with catastrophic scenes of smoke and flames. Firefighters are battling relentless wildfires, not only in multiple
countries across the world but in multiple continents right now.
Italy is battling 10 blazes as officials say five people are dead because of extreme weather.
Meantime, there were these panicked scenes in Portugal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS (voice-over): Firefighters and locals rushing to the holiday town of Bourbatache (ph) to fight a blaze in Algeria. Fires are now under
control but at least 34 people are dead.
And there are also blazes in Croatia, Turkiye, Canada, Spain and France. For now, our Nada Bashir is on the ground in Rome to give us a sense of the
wider picture here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: Many wildfires, give me a sense of what we're looking at.
NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these scenes of devastation have become familiar for the last few years across the Mediterranean. What we're
hearing from experts is that this is going to become a new normal here in Italy.
Emergency services are still working to tackle what is contained wildfires across different regions of the southern part of Italy.
We learned from the civil protection agency that, in Sicily, where we saw this devastating fire at one point bringing the airport of Palermo to a
standstill as flames were dangerously close to the airport and tarmac.
But we have learned that all three, some 2,000 people evacuated for fear of those wildfires. The vast majority have now been allowed to return home.
But as you said there, 10 fires still ongoing, although contained in Italy, as the emergency services are trying to tackle those.
Extreme weather in the north as well, storms there, hailstorms as well causing damage. At least two people reportedly killed as a result, four
people in southern Italy killed as a result of those wildfires.
But of course, this is something that we are seeing across the Mediterranean. Devastating fired continue to rage on across parts of Greece
and the islands of Corfu and Evia and Rhodes. Thousands have been evacuated.
We've seen emergency response teams being flown in from other parts of the world as well to support in that effort to try and tackle those wildfires.
And, of course, we're learning of more fires further afield in Algeria, in Tunisia. Those have been contained.
But of course, a huge amount of damage to land there, scorched land of course, with just a huge amount of devastation for those that rely on those
lands for their livelihood.
In Turkiye, emergency services are battling fires in the southern region of Antalya. Of course, we've heard these devastating warnings from experts
over the last few days. The World Weather Attribution initiative warning that this is going to become the new normal.
In the future, these temperatures could be considered cool and unless the world rapidly stops burning fossil fuels, these are only going to get
worse. These extreme heat incidences are only going to get more severe and more frequent.
E.U. officials say they are working to prepare their cities for the potential for further extreme heat instances. We do know, of course, after
last year's wildfires that the E.U. doubled the amount of firefighters to member states.
They did this in preparation for what was anticipated to be another bad year. In Greece, we've heard from the Copernicus meter for -- we've heard
from Cornu (ph) saying that they believe July, at this stage, according to recent data, has seen the highest wildfire emissions on record over the
last two decades.
These are stark warning, stark figures and the fact that the warnings are that this is only going to get worse will be (INAUDIBLE) for those who have
impacted so far.
GIOKOS: Nada Bashir, thank you very much.
A lot going on right now. And I want to turn our attention now to Greece.
GIOKOS: Tens of thousands of locals and tourists have fled Greek islands in the past days as fires rage. I'm joined now by Greece's tourism
minister, Olga Kefalogianni, on that.
Great to see you, Minister, thank you very much for taking the time. It has been a difficult week for you, for locals, for tourists as well.
Can you give me a sense of the danger zones right now and the status of evacuations?
OLGA KEFALOGIANNI, GREEK TOURISM MINISTER: First of all, thank you very much for your invitation and for giving me the opportunity to clarifying
the circumstances in Greece.
Actually, the really difficult situation we have faced these days has been on the island of Rhodes. And even there, the problem was in an area of the
island, which was almost 10 percent to 15 percent of the total area of the island.
So in reality, we obliged on Saturday evening, because of the wildfires, to evacuate 19,000 people, actually people who were here for holidays. And we
had to evacuate them and redirect them; 16,000 were transported by land and 3,000 were transported by sea.
This happened in a matter of a couple of hours. And we managed to have these people very safely put in safe places. So this is the most important
message, that, despite the disruption -- and I understand it has been an inconvenience for everyone -- safety is our top priority.
And what is very important is that 19,000 people were moved safely into safe places.
GIOKOS: Minister, I've got this question for you. I mean, you say that it's 10 percent to 15 percent of Rhodes. But even with that small
percentage, let's be realistic here. This prompted the largest evacuation of this kind that Greece has ever conducted, certainly a herculean task.
You were able to do it in just a few hours but we've seen the reports. We've spoken to many tourists and we've seen what locals are experiencing
How were you prepared, logistically, to be able to manage this?
And if the percentages were larger, would you be able to deal with a bigger number of people?
KEFALOGIANNI: Well, thank you for the question. It's true that this has been the biggest mobilization in -- that Greece has ever faced. And I think
it was indeed a herculean task to be able to move all these people in a couple of hours.
You understand that the whole of the island of Rhodes, during this peak tourist season, was not able to accommodate everyone in hotel rooms. So we
needed to open up public spaces, sports facilities, conference centers, schools.
So in a matter of just minutes, this was able and we provided shelter to all these people. They were provided with food, with water, with medical
supervision. The locals were mobilized.
And I think this is the most important thing to stress, that we had so many volunteers, people bringing sheets and towels from their homes to make sure
that everyone had the necessary equipment. And the people from Rhodes really taking care of all the visitors.
And this is something that I felt and I was able to discuss with locals, these peoples who needed to be evacuated. And they were thanking the people
GIOKOS: For the sake of time, I'm sorry. For the sake of time -- and I hear you on just how the locals get mobilized, it's incredible. In fact, I
was in Evia in 2021 and I experienced firsthand these raging wildfires. And I just saw how locals mobilized. It's incredible what they do.
But the issue here remains preparedness. And one of the big issues that I saw on the ground, speaking to locals, they said to me, we are worried that
we are going to be forgotten, that we know this is going to happen again. The government knows the wildfire season is going to happen again and
they're probably not going to do much.
So my question now becomes, how prepared are you for wildfire season?
And what interventions have you made specifically in Evia, where there are fires again, an island that barely recovered from what we saw in 2021?
KEFALOGIANNI: Well, let me just say that we have a special envoy for climate crisis, for climate change.
KEFALOGIANNI: Because you understand that these wildfires are the unfortunate result of the climate crisis. And I think this is something
that all countries, especially in the Mediterranean region, have to be prepared for.
So Greece is prepared. We have a very strict, vigilant system. So we were able to respond in a very, very quick manner. And you understand that the
mobilization force was of the state and the support of locals was important in order for us to be really, really successful to save people to everyone
GIOKOS: Minister, I'm going to ask you this.
I mean, were there any delays in getting the regional governments prepared in terms of activation of resources?
Were there any delays for this wildfire season?
KEFALOGIANNI: It was, in a matter of hours, that we were able to mobilize all forces. So it was the joint forces of the state, of the region and of
the local people that we were able to safely evacuate 19,000 people and put them in safe places.
And actually being able also to have them, in just a matter of two days, either flying back to their homes or going back to their vacation places in
the original hotels that they had booked or in other hotels on the island of Rhodes.
So actually we don't have a situation with evacuees. So in a matter of just two days, we were able to both evacuate and those --
GIOKOS: I understand that.
KEFALOGIANNI: Taking up also --
GIOKOS: And actually -- and you've had incredible responses, by the way, from the tourists, saying that the Greek government really stepped up. So I
appreciate that you clarified that.
I want to talk about the wider picture here. The Greek economy relies on 20 percent on -- of its GDP on tourism, which is quite significant. We also
have heard reporting that there's been a lot more interest in other destinations like Bulgaria, Czech Republic and the likes of Ireland.
Are you worried about the impact of climate change, of heat on the Greek economy?
KEFALOGIANNI: First of all, it's true that tourism represents indirectly almost 20 percent of Greece's GDP. Greece has been a premier tourism
destination for many, many decades. And we aim for Greece to be the pioneer in sustainable tourism in the years to come.
But we allocate funds, European funds but also state funds, for sustainable tourism and also an observatory for climate change and how it affects
tourism in the Mediterranean regions.
So it's important to know that Greece is proactive. And what is most important is that Greece is a safe destination and, even in extraordinary
conditions, we are able to mobilize our forces and make sure that everybody is safe.
We have this special number, 1-1-2, which is very unique. We have this three-digit number that actually is able to inform and notify anyone in an
area that is affected.
So anybody who is in any place where there needs to be notification of evacuation or of any other sort is immediately notified. So I think we are
pioneers in a lot of issues. It's unfortunate --
GIOKOS: Minister, we've run out of time. But I want to ask you one last question. I'm sorry I keep interrupting. We have limited time with you and
I want to get as much out as possible.
Look, airlines, tour operators had to stop to help tourists out.
Who's going to foot the bill?
Do you think there needs to be an insurance mechanism, where tourists feel like they're not going to be shouldering the burden, should there -- an
event like this occur again?
KEFALOGIANNI: Yes. But first of all, let me clarify that there was no disruption in the airport. Flights were coming in and out of Rhodes
throughout this unfortunate situation. So it's important to know that there was no disruption in the airport.
At the same time, we were in constant communication with the tour operators and the travel agents just to make sure that everybody is safe and that
whoever wanted to go back home was able to do it, even though some people did not have their travel documents.
We set up a special information desk at the airport to make sure that people were accommodated at the airport, if they wanted to fly out.
But in any case, I think that things are almost back to normal right now in Rhodes. And we would really expect the people who have booked holidays to
come to Rhodes and to experience what Rhodes and Greece has to offer.
GIOKOS: Minister --
KEFALOGIANNI: And -- yes.
GIOKOS: Thank you. We have to. We have to leave it there. I will be coming to Greece in August, just a couple of weeks. I hope to see you soon. Thank
you very much, minister of tourism in Greece.
Right, so this breaking news just in to CNN.
GIOKOS: A U.K. jury has found Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey not guilty of nine counts of sexual assault against four men. The charges were related
to alleged incidents in and around London in the 2000s and early 2010s. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joining us now live outside the courthouse.
Salma, great to have you with us. Take us through this ruling.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So just moments ago, the jury making this decision after days of deliberating that Kevin Spacey has not been
found guilty, not guilty on all nine sexual offense charges.
We are, of course, standing aside the courtroom. We are potentially expecting Kevin Spacey to give a statement to the waiting press that has
been here during these four-week-long courtroom saga.
Where Kevin Spacey has defended himself against these accusations, very, very serious accusations, including seven counts of sexual assault, one
count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent and one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity penetrative
The prosecutor, who, of course, brought forward the cases of these four male accusers, all aged in their 20s and 30s, that say that these incidents
occurred in the early 2000s and 2010s, when Kevin Spacey was the artistic director of the Old Vic.
The prosecutor tried to paint a picture of an actor who took advantage of his powerful position.
The prosecutor describing Kevin Spacey as a sexual bully who, quote, "delights in making others feel powerless and uncomfortable."
As you can imagine, Spacey and his lawyers hitting back against those accusations. Kevin Spacey even admitting at one point, saying to the
courtroom, yes, I am a big flirt. Yes, I was sexually promiscuous but that does not make me a bad person.
He recalled some of these incidences as romantic, as flirtatious, as consensual. Of course denying all the charges against him. Throughout this
trial and before this trial, Kevin Spacey has said he welcomes his day in court to prove his innocence.
He has clearly won that today, again not guilty on all nine charges. But these are allegations, these are accusers that surfaced after the #MeToo
movement. So this will potentially be seen as a blow to that movement. But for now, Kevin Spacey, who was emotional when he heard that read out by the
juror, not guilty on all nine counts.
GIOKOS: Yes, not guilty. Salma Abdelaziz, great to have you with us, thank you so much for that update.
Still to come, Israel's supreme court says it will hear legal challenges to a new law that has polarized Israel and sparked massive protests in the
Plus, leaders from African nations arrive in Russia for talks with president Vladimir Putin that include everything from the war in Ukraine to
their grain supply. We will be right back.
GIOKOS: Welcome back.
In Israel, the supreme court says it will hear challenges to a new law curtailing its powers in September but says it will not issue an injunction
to temporarily block it before then. The so-called reasonableness law entered into force earlier today and has triggered massive protests.
It strips the supreme court of the ability to block government decisions based on a reasonableness doctrine. CNN's Hadas Gold joins us now from
Give me a sense of what the ramifications are of this reasonableness law that has not entered into force. Supreme court clearly saying it will not
issue an injunction until September.
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So what this law states is it limits the supreme court's ability to block government actions on the
grounds that the supreme court believes that they're unreasonable.
So now this law is enforced and we know that the supreme court will not issue a temporary injunction, which means that it's on the books. It's
usable right now. The court has said it will hear seven total petitions that have been brought against this law in September, this is after the
supreme court goes on its recess.
But this emergency injunction was something that some of the petitioners were seeking. In fact, the president of the supreme court and some of the
senior justices were on an official trip to Germany and they cut that trip short in order to rush back to Israel and hear these petitions.
So now that we know that this will be heard in September, we know that there is a legal fight, a legal battle likely brewing coming in September.
Several reasons for that.
One is that this law that was passed amends a basic law. Israel doesn't have a constitution but it does have a series of basic laws that were
originally formulated to one day potentially form the base of a constitution.
The supreme court so far has discussed basic laws but has never nullified a basic law. Also, the supreme court will be ruling on its own powers. That
will be a unique situation to be in.
And then there's even the question as to whether this government will actually heed a ruling by the supreme court if by chance they strike it
down. But now that this law is on the books, that means the government can act on it.
Some critics of this law have said that they fear that one of the things that the government may do is they may fire the attorney general in Israel.
The attorney general is a slightly different position here in that it's more of an independent legal body and not like in the United States -- or
appointed by the president or by the prime minister.
And this current attorney general has been rather critical of this government. They have blocked some of the government actions. She's been
critical of the judicial overhaul and she is partly overseeing Benjamin Netanyahu's, the prime minister's ongoing corruption trial.
Now Benjamin Netanyahu has denied all those charges against him and he says this judicial overhaul has nothing to do with his corruption trial. But
there is the fear that now that this law is in place, that the attorney general, it would be easier for the government to fire her.
Before this law was passed, the supreme court potentially could have blocked that firing by calling it unreasonable. They would still have ways
of saying that the attorney general cannot be fired. But this just makes it easier for the government to do so.
And that's one of the fears that the critics have that is potentially the outcome of this law now being passed.
GIOKOS: Hadas Gold, thank you so much.
You can follow all of the big stories out of this region in our "Meanwhile in Middle East" newsletter. It drops three times a week. Today we take a
closer look at what's still to come in Israel in the wake of the Knesset passing the reasonableness law. And you can access newsletter by scanning
the QR code on the bottom of your screen right now.
And we have an exclusive update for you now. Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed is expected to make a full recovery after he was injured fighting in
Ukraine. He was released in a prisoner swap with Russia last year.
He told family and friends that he was motivated to fight in Ukraine after seeing the depths of Russian oppression firsthand as a prisoner.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is preparing to host a summit with African leaders this week in St. Petersburg. Some of those leaders are beginning to
arrive ahead of the main summit. They are set to discuss everything from the war in Ukraine to food security and trade.
A number of African countries are feeling the impact of Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal with Ukraine. David McKenzie joining us now
A big meeting, as we can see some of the pictures, African leaders arriving. Many African countries don't actually rely on Ukrainian grain;
some do. But generally everyone is going to feel the effects of rising food prices. It's going to have an inflationary impact.
What do African leaders hope to achieve during this meeting?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly will be a major topic for discussion.
MCKENZIE: You see the leaders arriving in Russia, heading to St. Petersburg for this very critical summit, the Russia-Africa summit. The
first one was held in 2019 but then the pandemic and, of course, the start of the Ukraine war. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has delayed it until now.
Now 17 heads of state, according to Russian officials, will be attending that summit. That's dramatically down from the first Russia-Africa summit.
The Kremlin has said this is, in their words, due to the schedules of heads of state in Africa.
But they also blame the U.S., France and other countries of, quote, "brazen interference" in diplomacy in Africa that might have dissuaded some African
heads of state to head to Russia.
Of course, Putin invaded Ukraine. He is also indicted for war crimes for his actions in Ukraine, something he denies. But this can be seen in two
In one way you can see that dramatic reduction as a slight toward Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin and perhaps it is. But in another way, you can see
that, with any African leader showing up, it shows that Vladimir Putin is not totally isolated from the rest of the world.
Russia continues to do brisk trade with parts of Africa. Its Wagner mercenary group that has ties to the Kremlin is operating in large parts of
the continent. And while there will be many different topics on the table for the discussion, the use for Putin will be that he is not isolated and
he is playing the senior diplomatic role on the world stage.
Senior officials, including the president from South Africa, will be attending. They say they want to push their so-called Africa peace
initiative. They've already had meetings in Ukraine and in Moscow on that. So no sign of any movement on that in terms of stopping the fighting in
But it will be very interesting to see the upticks of all those African leaders standing with Vladimir Putin, an indicted war criminal, on the
GIOKOS: Exactly as you say, interesting imaging coming through right now. David McKenzie, great to have you with us. Thank you.
We're getting word of an attempted coup in Niger. A witness tells CNN the presidency has been sealed off. Reports say guards are holding president
Mohamed Bazoum inside his palace in the capital, Niamey.
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and the African Union are condemning this move. I want to bring in CNN's Larry Madowo. He's
going to shed some light on what's happening.
Give us a sense of the timeline here, what's transpired in the last few hours.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eleni, there is a lot we still don't know about what's happening in Niger. What we do know from sources (INAUDIBLE)
Reuters and (INAUDIBLE) is that presidential guards are holding president Mohamed Bazoum inside the presidential palace.
And they blockaded that street, so there's a lot of military vehicles around the presidential palace. No shots have been fired so far. So we
cannot, as CNN, independently describe this as any attempt to seize power in the country.
However, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States are both describing this as an attempted coup and are condemning
these attempts to try to seize power from president Mohamed Bazoum, who was elected in 2021.
He was out and about on Tuesday, launching a roads project, surrendered by some of these presidential guards, who are now said to have barricaded him
inside the presidential palace.
And according to a tweet from the presidency that was posted on the official Facebook page of the president in Niger, they were involved in
this anti republican effort to try to get the military to support them.
Mysteriously, one of these tweets was deleted. That post has also disappeared from the official Facebook page of the presidency of Niger. But
one section of it remains.
And it says that the president of the republic and his family are doing well. The army and the National Guard already to attack the elements of the
presidential guard involved in this fit of anger if they do not return to their better senses.
So Niger has had four coups since independence in the 1960s. It's one of the rare, safer neighborhoods in the Sahel that has had a lot of
instability. When he had his campaign in the different parts of the region, in Mali and in Burkina Faso and elsewhere, Niger, a key ally of both France
and the United States.
And so it's important that this stability continues. That's why you're seeing this quick condemnation from both ECOWAS, the regional bloc, as well
as the African Union. But still, a lot that we don't know at this moment. But still obviously working the phones, trying to get a better
understanding of what exactly is happening.
GIOKOS: And developing story as you say, Larry. You will be keeping a close watch on what's happening in Niger. Larry Madowo for us, thank you.
An unprecedented moment in American history. The son of a sitting U.S. president walking into a federal court to plead guilty to a crime. Just
ahead, Hunter Biden's plea deal.
GIOKOS: We'll be right back.
GIOKOS (voice-over): Welcome back. I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi and you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Here are your headlines this hour.
Israel's supreme court says it will hear legal challenges to a new law that could some of its own power in September or not be issuing an injunction to
temporarily block it before them. The new law means the supreme court would no longer be able to deem some government decisions unreasonable.
In London, the jury has found Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey not guilty on all sexual offense charges against him. Four men had accused him of
sexual assault in and around London in the early 2000s and 2010s.
These are live pictures outside the courthouse. We are expecting Kevin Spacey to make some comments and we will bring you those live if they
happen. We'll keep a close watch on that.
Now more than 10,000 people have been killed in the capital of Sudan's West Darfur region over the last two months. That is according to a tribal
leader, talking to Sudanese media earlier this month.
The U.N. said scores of bodies were discovered in a mass grave in West Darfur, allegedly killed by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and their
GIOKOS: Hunter Biden is in a federal courtroom in Delaware this hour and has just told the judge he intends to plead guilty to two tax charges.
Prosecutors say the U.S. president's son failed to pay federal income taxes on time in both 2017 and 2018, owing at least $100,000 each year.
The charges are misdemeanors. His plea deal will also resolve a felony gun charge as well. CNN U.S. Justice correspondent Evan Perez is in Washington
for us to give us the lowdown of what we're expecting.
Widely anticipated that he will be pleading guilty to these charges. Take us through this.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Eleni. We anticipated that he would be making this statement. It's part of the
process by which someone pleads guilty to these two charges. He is pleading guilty to failing to pay his taxes in 2017 and 2018.
PEREZ: As part of that, the prosecution is going to recommend to the judge that he serve no jail time, that he serve probation.
As part of this, there's also a separate deal whereby if Hunter Biden satisfies the conditions set forth by this judge, the federal government
will also get rid of this felony charge related to a gun that he purchased at a time that he was afflicted with substance abuse.
He said that he was struggling with substance abuse and should not have been able to buy a firearm at that point under U.S. law. So at this point
it's in the hands of the judge. She is a Trump appointee. This is a case that has been investigated for five years under three different U.S.
The prosecutor who's running the case is also a Trump appointee but that hasn't stopped this from being at the center of a political fracas here in
the United States. You have Republicans who believe that the case had been certainly -- that Hunter Biden has been -- has received political
Again, despite the fact that this is being run and overseen by a Trump- appointed U.S. attorney, who stayed on simply to manage this case.
So we expect that despite what happens today -- and we expect that the judge is going to accept the plea agreement -- we expect that this is far
from over because we know Republicans on Capitol Hill say that they want to pursue some of the unanswered questions that they believe remain as a
result of this investigation.
Including whether President Biden at all was involved in Hunter Biden's business dealings in some of these foreign countries, where some of these
offenses, the money that he failed to account for to the IRS, where some of that money came from -- back to you.
GIOKOS: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much for that update.
Let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now.
GIOKOS (voice-over): The Dutch Coast Guard says one person is dead after a fire broke out overnight on a cargo ship off the Dutch coast. All 23 crew
members were able to evacuate by helicopters and rescue boats. But one died and several others were injured.
More than 15 long-finned pilot whales have died after being stranded on a remote beach in Western Australia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS (voice-over): This video shows the pod together on Tuesday before they were stranded. Officials are racing to save dozens of others still
stuck in shallow waters nearby. A wildlife researcher says it's not clear why this happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS (voice-over): After more than 15 years in a self imposed exile, Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is set to return to the
country in August. That's according to his daughter's Facebook post.
In 2006, he was accused of corruption and ousted in a military coup. Upon his return, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Ahead in sports, Team USA set to face maybe its most difficult opponent at the Women's World Cup in a rematch of the last World Cup final in
(INAUDIBLE). That's coming up next. Stay with CNN.
GIOKOS: Breaking news this hour, a jury in London finding actor Kevin Spacey not guilty on all counts of sexual assault charges. There were nine
counts in total related to incidents that occurred in the early 2000s and 2010s.
We are seeing live images coming through from a courthouse in London. We are anticipating that Kevin Spacey will be addressing reporters shortly.
We'll be keeping a very close watch on the latest from London as we wait for Spacey to head to those microphones, as you can see on your screen
In the meantime, New York fire officials say they're battling a five-alarm blaze after a burning crane toppled from a Manhattan construction site a
short time ago. The footage of the collapse is incredibly dramatic. I want you to take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: All right, I want to take you now live to London. As you can see, Kevin Spacey about to address reporters after being found not guilty by a
jury. Let's listen in.
KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: I imagine that many of you can understand that there's a lot for me to process after what has just happened today. But I
would like to say that I am enormously grateful to the jury for having taken the time to examine all of the evidence and all of the facts
carefully before they reached their decision.
And I am humbled by the outcome today. I also want to thank the staff inside this courthouse, the security and all of those who took care of us
every single day, my legal team, Evan Laun's (ph) team and Lucy (ph) for being here every day. And that's all I have to say for the moment. Thank
you very much.
GIOKOS: All right, we have just heard from Kevin Spacey after being found not guilty by U.K. jury on all nine counts of sexual account charges. And
he's just spoken. He said he's humbled and he's grateful to the jury for what he says, taking the time to examine the facts before reaching a
We've got Salma Abdelaziz joining us now live outside the courthouse.
Look, he said he's humbled. He thanked his legal team but this is really big for him. This is something that has plagued his career. And it's
interesting to see this decision coming through today.
ABDELAZIZ: Yes, of course. You can still see the chaos behind me in the courtroom. He gave that very short statement just a couple of minutes ago.
And you can see press photographers following him down the street, trying to get a picture of the man who has just been found not guilty of all nine
charges, sexual charges, sexual offense charges against him.
Kevin Spacey saying that he is humbled by this decision, saying that he has a lot to process but thanked the jurors, thanked the courtroom staff,
thanked his lawyers. Look, before this trial even began, Kevin Spacey said that he had welcomed the opportunity to be in court.
He had welcomed what he said was a chance to prove his innocence. And very much in his statement that is what he -- the conclusion that he has come
This was a four-week, riveting courtroom drama, in which four separate men brought accusations, stating to the early 2010s and early 2000s, a time in
which Kevin Spacey was the artistic director of the Old Vic theater, not far from this courtroom here in London.
The prosecutor, who, of course, carried the stories, carried the accusations of these four men, described Kevin Spacey as a sexual bully,
said that he delighted -- and I'm quoting here -- "delighted in making others feel powerless and uncomfortable."
That's how the prosecutor characterized this award winning actor. Kevin Spacey, of course, hit back, saying, at times, yes, I was a big flirt. Yes,
I was promiscuous but that doesn't make me a bad person. He describes some of these encounters as romantic, of course as consensual.
ABDELAZIZ: He at times says he didn't even initially remember these accusers. You have to remember that some of these incidences date back
nearly 20 years. All of these accusations, these incidences surfacing in the light of the #MeToo movement. So this will potentially be seen as a
blow to the #MeToo movement.
But for Kevin Spacey, a man who has throughout said he is innocent, who has denied all charges, this is absolutely a day of victory for him and a day
that he hopes will allow him to win back his award-winning career.
GIOKOS: Yes. All right, Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much. We'll have more on the story as it unfolds at the top of the hour. Thank you.
All right, thank you so very much for joining us. We have sports coming up next, stay with CNN.