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Kenyan President Announces Finance Bill to Be Withdrawn; Iran Gears Up for Friday's Vote; SCOTUS Allows White House to Press Social Media Companies to Remove Disinformation; CNN Presidential Debate Thursday Night; Julian Assange Freed; "The Wall Street Journal" Reporter Evan Gershkovich on Trial in Russia; Museum Displays Picasso in Ladies' Toilet. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired June 26, 2024 - 10:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Time is 6:00 in the evening. Welcome to our second hour. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.

We're following breaking news stories for you. This hour, any minute now the U.S. Supreme Court may drop an announcement. Several major cases could

be decided in the coming hours, including immunity for Donald Trump, emergency abortions and January the 6th.

And after a day of furious protests in Kenya that left five people dead, the country's president conceded that he will not sign the finance bill

that sparked the unrest.


ANDERSON: Want to start with our breaking news in Nairobi. Kenya's president has just addressed the nation, informing the country that he will

not sign the 2024 finance bill, which was at the heart of Tuesday's deadly and chaotic protests in Nairobi. Have a listen.


WILLIAM RUTO, PRESIDENT OF KENYA: Consequently, having reflected on the continuing conversation around the content of the finance bill 2024 and

listening keenly to the people of Kenya, who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this finance bill 2024, I concede.

And therefore I will not sign the 2024 finance bill. And it shall subsequently be withdrawn. And I have agreed with these members that that

becomes our collective position.


ANDERSON: Well, the comments come less than 24 hours after President William Ruto denounced the protests as, quote, "treasonous." At least five

people were killed by police during those demonstrations.

On Tuesday. CNN's Larry Madowo is being right in the center of these protests. He's live in Nairobi for us now.

What do you make of what you have just heard in the last 10-15 minutes from President Ruto?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear what changed between President William Ruto's national address last night and this afternoon

because, yesterday, he was defiant.

He said there were legitimate protesters but that legitimate protesters had been infiltrated by treasonous criminals, which did not go down well with

many Kenyans and less than 24 hours later he comes back and says, the people have spoken.

They need to make more concessions and, therefore, he is rejecting his own finance bill that was proposed by the executive that he is the head of and

that he thanked all the MPs around him.

The people sitting around him are members of his own ruling party who defied the feelings of the people and went ahead and passed this finance

bill while people were actively demonstrating against the bill outside parliament, while people are getting killed outside parliament.

They went ahead and passed this bill and put it on the floor and put it on the seat of President William Ruto. And now he's saying, oh, you were right

and we will not be signing this bill.

So there's already some defiance on social media and people say, it's too little, too late. And some of them even threatening to still go ahead with

planned protests tomorrow. So that is the instant reaction. The feeling from people who feel that all of this could have been avoided.

The people who died yesterday could have been saved if President Ruto on Sunday, like he said, when he engaged the young people, had made this move,


ANDERSON: I was interested to hear a couple of things that he said. He said it has become evident that the public demands more concessions and

because I run a government but I also lead the people and the people have spoken, he said, I concede and therefore are not signing this bill.


He went on to say the following.

"As a nation, we need to look to the future. As we have gotten rid of this bill, we now need a conversation as a nation about how we manage the

affairs of the country together, manage the budget together."

And at the beginning of this, he was alluding to the fact that he pulled the nation from the brink of debt and how the nations sort of manages

itself going forward.

How would you expect that he effects that engagement now, with what he described as the young people of Kenya?

MADOWO: So one of the immediate problems is going to be finding the leaders of this so-called movement because none of the Gen Z generation

that had been at the forefront of these protests wants to be identified as the leader, as the organizer of these protests.

So that's one. But two, the background he started with his press conference is completely the right tone because he has, Kenya has a debt problem,

which he inherited from his predecessor.

But he was number two in that government of Uhuru Kenyatta. He said that just last week Kenya cleared the $2 billion euro bond that has been hanging

over the heads of the country. And so that's why he's pulled the country from the brink of debt distress. So that's also accurate.

He's -- they were trying to raise about $2.6 billion through these extra tax measures in the finance bill. After a public outcry, they cut it down

to about $1.5 billion. And now that's been scrapped entirely.

So he's got to find a different way to explain this to the people of Kenya, to talk to the people of Kenya, not talk at them. So far, in the entire

public engagement process, President Ruto has not done what he has done this afternoon: explain systematically, slowly, what he's trying to do and

why he's going to do it this way.

And find a way around it. And now it's come a little too late in the game and it's going to be much more difficult conversation to convince anyone

after the events of the past few weeks and especially the events of the past day.

ANDERSON: Yes. We spoke just after the speech and we talked about whether this is any longer about the finance bill or whether it has gone further

than that. There will be people who say that it is not -- no longer about the finance but it is about whether they want President Ruto to run the


More on that as we get to it. Larry, for the time being, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

To Iran now where it is a race to Election Day. The six men vying to replace the country's late president Ebrahim Raisi are making their final

pitches before voters head to the polls on Friday.

Raisi and seven others died in a helicopter crash last month. The snap vote comes amid bubbling anger across the country over what has been this

struggling economy now for years and inflation that has sent the costs of basic goods like meat and dairy skyrocketing.

CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is live in Tehran. He has been today at a campaign rally for one of those candidates.

Just describe where you've been and where you are at now and what the mood is there in Tehran ahead of this vote.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Becky. Yes, I'm actually still outside where that campaign rally took

place. You'll see behind me the likeness of Mohammad Ghalibaf, who was one of the main conservative candidates.

You were saying that six candidates remain on the Raisi's conservative side of things, that he's definitely considered to be one of the front-runners.

And what we're seeing here is exactly what you described, is that we are now in the final hours where campaigning is still allowed. And certainly

the candidates are trying to get out the vote and trying to get out the vote for themselves.

You're also absolutely right about the main issues at hand. A lot of it is about the economy, a lot of it is about jobs, a lot of it is about

inflation, a lot of it is, of course, also about countering the massive sanctions that Iran is under as well.

You can feel here on the streets of Tehran, not just among the supporters, the conservatives, that this could be a pivotal election. Here's what we're



PLEITGEN (voice-over): Just over a month after Iran's president Ibrahim Raisi and foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian were killed in a

helicopter crash, Iranians are gearing up to elect a new head of government, even celebrating the important religious holiday, Eid al-


People here are constantly reminded the vote is imminent. Iran's Supreme Leader urging people to go to the polls.

"Every time there's low turnout in elections, the enemies of the Islamic Republic and the envious denounce the Islamic Republic," he said.

With the Middle East in turmoil and Iran recently close to an all-out war against Israel, people here have many issues on their mind.

"We will defend Gaza and Palestine through massive turnout in the election," this woman says, "all people will take part in the election and

we will prove that the Islamic Republic of Iran has a word to say in the world."

"We should all take part in this election," this man says.


"To have a good choice so the country will come out of this difficult situation."

"I will not vote," this woman says. "I want the country to be strong but I have not seen much action on their part."

There are six candidates remaining in this presidential race and their posters are plastered all across cities and towns around Iran.

People are also handing out leaflets like this one. Most of the candidates that are still in the race are conservatives but there is also still one

moderate up for the vote.

Masoud Pezeshkian is a former health minister and heart surgeon by training. He calls for improving relations with countries across the


"Just the way we can talk to each other, we can also learn to talk to our neighbors and the rest of the world," he says.

But Saeed Jalili, a conservative candidate and Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator, ripped into moderates and the nuclear agreement they negotiated

with President Obama but then President Trump walked away from.

"Not only did the economic situation of the country not succeed but the economic growth became zero and negative."

As Iranians celebrate in the streets of Tehran, their eyes are set on the near future and who will govern the Islamic Republic in very challenging



PLEITGEN: In the very near future, tomorrow, there's not going to be any campaigning. Of course on Friday, there is the first round of the election.

After that, we will know whether or not there will be immediately a new president elected or whether there will be a runoff round later.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, sir. Thank you.

Fred is in Tehran for you today.

Right. Let's bring you my colleague, Erica Hill. She is in New York and she is ready to help us cover the news out of the Supreme Court today.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Becky. We never know what we're going to get on these days, right?

The Supreme Court tells us they'll be releasing opinions. As you noted earlier, there are a number that we are waiting on, a number of pretty

important consequence here in the U.S. especially leading up to an election.

One of the ones that we have been watching, we did actually just get this morning. So this will be the first of three straight days of opinions that

are set to be released.

So what we just got his a case known as Murthy versus Missouri. This was a number of states and some other folks actually suing the federal

government, the surgeon general, another of a number of other administration officials named as well, over essentially content


And what content was on social media platforms at different times. I want to bring in my colleague, Jessica Schneider, who's following this.

So Jessica, we got this decision. It's a 6-3 opinion which was written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Among those dissenting justices, Alito, Thomas

and Gorsuch. This reverses a decision from the Fifth Circuit.

And in her writing the opinion for the court, Justice Barrett said that the Fifth Circuit glossed over complexities in evidence and she basically said

they were just wrong.

What more are we seeing?

I know you're still going through it; it's some 60 pages.


HILL: But as we're going through it, what more are we are we seeing from this opinion, again, that was written by Justice Barrett?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So the really big takeaway here, Erica, is that government officials in different agencies at the

White House, in the surgeon general's office, within the FBI, they can continue to communicate with social media companies.

Like X, Facebook, et cetera, to help those social media companies moderate content online.

In past years, whether it's dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic or whether it's dealt with disinformation during election years, in which, of course,

we are in an election year, government officials have regularly reached out to social media companies to warn them about disinformation that people

might try to proliferate online.

And even foreign actors might try to proliferate. So what had happened were these Republican officials had brought this lawsuit, along with five social

media users, saying that the government is trying to improperly coerce these social media companies to take down all kinds of content.

And the lower courts agreed with those Republican officials and said, yes, government, you have to stop communicating with social media companies and

exercising this communication with them to try to get them to take down content.

Today, though, Supreme Court is reversing those lower court decisions. And they're doing it on procedural, technical grounds here. They're basically

saying that the Republican officials in those states -- Missouri being one of them -- and those social media users, they just didn't have the legal

standing or the right to even bring this case.

So therefore, government officials can continue to communicate with social media companies.


This is crucial. Erika, in an election year, because we have seen different governmental agencies; in particular, the Director of National

Intelligence, just a few, few months ago, warned that China might be trying to put out a lot of disinformation as we head closer and closer to the 2024


If the Supreme Court had ruled the other way today, this might have halted officials from the DNI and other government agencies from communicating

with social media companies.

But today, what the Supreme Court is doing in the 6-3 opinion is basically saying you don't have the power to sue Republican officials. So government

officials, keep doing what you're doing. You can keep communicating with social media companies.

You know, this doesn't completely settle the issue of whether or not the government can communicate with social media companies, urging them to take

down certain content. It at least though wipes away this lawsuit for the time being.

And that's probably the pretty crucial at least when it comes to the government's point of view, because over the next five or so months,

they'll continue to be able to communicate with social media companies without any concern as disinformation potentially pops up concerning the


So Erica, nothing ruled on the merits itself about the power of government officials to communicate. But it does wipe away this lawsuit that the lower

courts had said, government, you can't communicate.

It leaves that door open to government officials to say to social media companies, all right, we saw something really bad online. You need to know

that that is not true. It could be put forth by foreign actors. You should really take it down.

It keeps that door of communication, that line of communication open between the government and social media companies without the threat of

court action, right?

At least right now, Erica.

HILL: At least -- at least for the moment. This was prompted by information that was put out during COVID-19. As you noted, it's such an

important point that you made, given the fact that we are in an election year.

And I found it interesting that, as she actually put in this opinion, writing for the court, that Justice Coney Barrett actually noted, for

instance, in 2016, Facebook began fact-checking and demoting posts containing misleading claims about elections.

I would imagine, Jessica, nothing goes into these documents that are then posted as opinions without a fair amount of forethought. So it's

interesting that that particular fact point was pointed out in this opinion.


And that was really something actually, I'm looking -- Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, just -- the chief justice, John Roberts, all in

the conservative bloc, these were all concerns that they raised during the oral arguments that were held on this case.

They were really concerned that the government could be restricted from warning social media companies about certain content, We saw in 2016 the

proliferation of misinformation, disinformation that was spread online.

Social media companies need to have the power to be able to do something about it and they need the help, at least in the view of these justices,

they need the help oftentimes of government officials.

And if you cut off that line of communication and don't allow government officials from any agency or certain agencies to talk with social media

companies, it's really going to disservice, especially this year, voters in general.

It could also disservice just American people looking for information. Increasingly people get their news and information on social media. So

there needs to be some sort of, give and take from the government and social media companies.

And the Supreme Court is at least saying, all right, in this case, we're going to continue to allow it. There may be other lawsuits in the future

with more appropriate plaintiffs, who have maybe more -- have the standing to bring this case.

But at least for right now, government officials, according to the Supreme Court, will continue to be able to communicate with social media companies,

to encourage social media companies to take down information that might be wrong, that might be deceiving.

And like I said, especially important, coming up just a few months before the 2024 election.

HILL: Yes. So, so important.

Also with us is CNN legal analyst, Norm Eisen.

Norm, as you look at this, important to point out, as Jessica just did, so the court found that they didn't have standing here but did not rule on the

merits, the overall merits of the case itself; just that it couldn't be brought.

Do you anticipate this will then perhaps trigger a chain reaction, where there could be some effort, for cases to be filed that perhaps would have

standing that can maybe make their way through the courts up to the Supreme Court again?

NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We may very well see more litigation. The Supreme Court uses standing doctrine to signal when it doesn't want to hear



And while there's an element of this, that legitimately consists of the Supreme Court saying, the Fifth Circuit made a mistake in allowing these

particular plaintiffs into court. They didn't have standing. You shouldn't let them in the courtroom.

There's also an element here and there's wording in the opinion, suggesting some skepticism. The First Amendment does not reach to block government

from legitimate engagement with social media companies over things like spreading messages, disinformation about elections, that could be harmful

or dangerous.

And it doesn't block government from having a conversation. And that's what the evidence showed happened here if you look in the record. So I suspect

if these cases eventually make it back to the Supreme Court, that the outcome will be negative.

Government needs to be allowed to have conversations with businesses, including social media ones.

HILL: To your point there about the court, the court had to decide to take up this case. And one would imagine that, in looking at it, if you have six

of the justices saying they don't have standing here, right, to bring this case.

And yet they decided to take it up anyway, is that part of a broader effort by the court?

To put something out there?

EISEN: I think the court has been skeptical of overbroad standing principles that have been utilized. This has been a particular problem in

two very conservative circuits. We saw this with the mifepristone case as well.

The Fifth Circuit and the 11th circuit are doing policy. They're doing legislation. It's what conservatives used to complain about the liberal

court, the Warren court doing, making (INAUDIBLE) legislating from the bench.

And that's what we've seen the Supreme Court rejecting. There seemed to be six votes on the Supreme Court to get back to the fundamental American

idea, hey, we're going to let government function. We're going to let the executive branch do its job, like talking to social media companies.

The legislative branch do its job, passing legislation. We're not going to interfere with these hot button issues.

Now abortion has been an exception. But even there, the court has wheeled back with the mife decision. So yes, I think this is an effort by the court

to get this meddling Fifth and 11th Circuit out of the business of interfering with communications, legitimate ones between the government and

social media providers.

HILL: Norm, full disclosure; I'm still going through this. I am not a speed reader nor am I a lawyer. So it takes me a little bit longer than it

does both you and Jessica.

But in terms of the dissent here, Justices Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch, if you've had a chance to look at that dissent, is there anything in there

that stands out to you or that surprises you?

EISEN: Well, Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch have a more activist vision of what the Supreme Court should be doing. I was really struck by the --

it's not the holding of the case but the majority saying that the court feels that platforms have independent incentives to moderate content and

exercise their own judgment.

And rejecting the Fifth Circuit attributing every platform decision to government glossing over complexities in the evidence. The three on the far

right of the court are willing to substitute their judgment.

In reading their dissents they are willing to substitute their judgment for that of the executive branch and, to some extent, of the legislature, which

is supposed to set policy here.

So I think there's a kind of radicalism that emerges, where they're willing to insert themselves to assert power over every societal debate, like

routine conversations between social media companies and government.

No. The majority is rejecting that and I think their view of what happened here and the complexity of the evidence is right. And we should be very

careful about this far right wing of the Supreme Court inserting themselves into every part of American life, as they do, as they would do here, as

signaled by the dissent.


HILL: Norm Eisen, always appreciate your insight and your expertise. Thank you.

Stay with us. You're watching CNN. We are back after this.




ANDERSON: We are just shy of 1.5 days away from CNN's U.S. presidential debate. Recent polls show no clear leader in the rematch between President

Biden and Donald Trump, underscoring just how high the stakes are for both these men in the first debate of the 2024 election cycle.

Thursday's showdown is taking place in our studios in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the nation's most competitive swing states this year. CNN's Kevin Liptak

focusing on Biden's campaign and debate preparations, while Alayna Treene covering Trump's campaign for us.

Kevin, let me start with you.

What do we know at this point about what will be these last minute preparations for the debate?

Where is Joe Biden?

And who is he with?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He is at Camp David out in Western Maryland. He's been there for six days now. And you know, I

don't think it's a secret why his team is spending the better part of a week in preparation for these debates.

They know that they cannot afford an underwhelming performance on the debate stage. And they also know that any kind of slip-up, a mental slip-up

or verbal slip-up, it's only going to be amplified underneath those debate lights. So these preparations have been intensive.

He's had a very large team, more than a dozen people, kind of coming and going from Camp David to advise him on different areas of this debate. And

we do understand that the mock debates that he's running through have now begun.

They've set up a model of the debate stage in an airplane hangar out at Camp David. They have podiums. They really want to mimic the setting

exactly so that when President Biden comes up on stage on Thursday night, he feels comfortable and he feels like he knows what he's doing.

The issues that the teams are working on, I think, are pretty specific. There are three very specific points that President Biden is going to want

to make.

One is on abortion and trying to lay at the feet of Donald Trump the repeal of Roe versus Wade.

He also wants to talk about democracy, threats to democracy, political violence, all issues that have kind of underpinned his entire campaign so


And then he'll want to talk about the economy, which, at the end of the day is the number one issue for many American voters and does present something

of a risk for the president.

A lot of Americans still feel dissatisfied with their own economic situation. What he wants to do is flip the script, make the point that the

policies that Trump would enact are inflationary and would only benefit the wealthy.

So you do see the items that the president will really want to work on, really kind of sharpen what he's going to say and sharpen his rhetoric. Of

course we'll only see him for the first time of the last week or so when he leaves Camp David tomorrow to head down to Atlanta.


ANDERSON: Fascinating.

Alayna, let me bring you in. And as we talk about what Donald Trump is likely to say and focus on tomorrow, I just want to bring up some graphics

on the screen to get our viewers a sense of what the rules are for this debate.

Is it clear what Donald Trump will focus on and how he will present his arguments tomorrow?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting because so many people are trying to -- excuse me; I'm hearing some stuff in my ear.

So many people are trying to predict what kind of Donald Trump is going to show up on the debate on Thursday. But no one really knows. Anyone who says

they know what attitude Donald Trump is going to bring when he stands on that stage, they're lying.

Like even Donald Trump's advisers, when I speak to them, say, we're not exactly sure whether or not he's going to go off script, meander; all of

the things that we've seen Donald Trump do time and time again in many of his political speeches and at his rallies.

However, also in my conversations with the campaign, they are encouraging him to focus on kitchen table issues and specifically the ones where Donald

Trump polls better than Joe Biden.

That's the economy, immigration, crime -- and it is interesting just to go off what Kevin was saying about what Biden is going to focus on. He wants

to argue about crime as well.

Donald Trump, wants to talk about the economy for entirely different reasons. He is going to try and hammer Joe Biden, argue that there is

record inflation that is being seen under his administration and really try to undercut any messaging that the Biden team wants on that.

Now I also just think it's important to take a step back and look at how Donald Trump has been preparing for this. Unlike Joe Biden, he's not

engaging in mock debates. It's been a very untraditional type of campaign or -- excuse me -- debate prep from Donald Trump's campaign.

He's been engaging in informal policy discussions. He's been picking the brains of his advisers, his allies, people in his former administration as

well. They're all working to sharpen his messaging and it's not just the issues he wants to talk about.

They're also trying to look at sharpening his rhetoric on the issues they know he's vulnerable on.

That includes his handling of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, his discussion of abortion, an issue that Donald Trump has really struggled

with over the past year or so as well as how to frame his recent guilty verdict in his Manhattan trial and the New York hush money case.

So that's really what's been going on behind the scenes and he's been doing that at his home in Mar-a-Lago. Another thing I just want to point out as

well is this expectations game that we've seen Trump's campaign engage with.

And I've talked to one adviser who essentially told me a lot of this change in wanting to raise the bar for how they think Joe Biden will perform came

once they realized that Joe Biden was going to be spending an entire week at Camp David preparing.

And that's why you've kind of seen a lot of Donald Trump surrogates, including some of his vice presidential contenders, like Doug Burgum and

J.D. Vance, they've been saying that they think Biden will do a good job on the debate stage, that, when he needs to show up and perform, he can.

That's all coming because they recognize that they want a higher bar for Joe Biden on Thursday. And so that's kind of where the Trump campaign is at

this. And they are again, trying to make sure that Donald Trump is a little bit less aggressive in this debate.

If you look back at the first debate in 2020 between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Trump was very aggressive and he had repeatedly cut Joe Biden off.

He hardly let him get a word in at points and they saw Donald Trump's poll numbers fall in days after.

It's something Donald Trump actually candidly admitted in an interview this week, saying he recognizes that the perception after that debate was that

he had lost that debate.

And so I think he's going to try to rein it in. But of course, you never know what Donald Trump -- and he could kind of go off script and kind of

show some of his meaner side, which some people are anticipating as well.

ANDERSON: Well, no more guessing; 36 hours or less to go. We will know who turns up behind both of those podiums.

Good to have you both. Thank you very much, indeed.

Tune in and see the CNN presidential debate right here on CNN, coming up on June the 27th at 9:00 pm Eastern time. I'm sure you can work out where you

are locally what time it will be.

After years in prison, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is back home in Australia. Ahead, we're going to take a look at the deal that freed him.





ANDERSON: Welcome back. It is 36 minutes past 6:00 here in the UAE. I'm Becky Anderson out of Abu Dhabi for you. This is our Middle East

programming hub.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now a free man. Assange arrived in Australia after pleading guilty to a U.S. single conspiracy charge, ending

what has been his 14 year legal battle. His wife says he needs to recover but she says he will always defend human rights.

Assange had faced a slew of charges after WikiLeaks exposed military secrets regarding conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. For more, I want to

turn to CNN's Nic Robertson in London.

I mean, when you see the images of him on Australian soil, you have to wonder whether he ever thought that that is where he would land, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Absolutely. And I think we get that sense from his wife of just how tough the journey has been and the

journey is far from over. But the first person to congratulate him when he landed, he got a phone call from the prime minister, Anthony Albanese,

congratulating him.

Apparently they chatted for a while, according to Assange's lawyer. And I think that's indicative of how much political support from Australia, from

the Australian people.

And that was something the lawyers and family thanked the Australian people for, because they said, without that ground level support to bring Assange

back home, that wouldn't have given the political space for people like the prime minister to weigh in with President Biden as he did many months ago.

To try to try to make this happen. But the real window for it his lawyers say opened up quite recently with Assange's ability while in jail in the

U.K. to appeal the extradition to the United States.

But there were a couple of points here, I think his lawyers really wanted to get across, not just sort of recounting the difficulties of the past.

But they wanted to get across this point that Assange was essentially held to account on espionage laws in the United States.

And his lawyers saying, look, this has never been done to journalists before. It's never been done to lawyers before. This is a very bad sign for

journalists in the future. So really wanted to make that point.

But it was Julian Assange's wife, Stella, I think, who really gave us a sense of the emotion that the whole family is going through.


STELLA ASSANGE, WIFE OF JULIAN ASSANGE: Julian wanted me to sincerely thank everyone. He wanted to be here but you have to understand what he's

been through. He needs time.


He needs to recuperate. And this is a process. I ask you, please, to give us space, to give us privacy, to find our place that our family be a family

before he can speak again at a time of his choosing.


ROBERTSON: So indicating that she does expect him to speak, his lawyers saying he doesn't face a gag order and interest really shows asked the

question, always asked the question about the possibility of a pardon.

And she indicated this is absolutely something that she expected them to try to push for over time, not right now but in the future. And that would

be important for the whole team, the whole WikiLeaks. But for Julian Assange himself in particular to get that level of recognition that his,

lawyers say he did no harm and this was all wrong.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Nic. Thank you.

Still to come on CNN, the espionage trial against "The Wall Street Journal" reporter, Evan Gershkovich, is underway in Russia, Western officials

believe the journalist is being used by Russia as a political pawn. A closer look at that is just ahead.




ANDERSON: The trial for a U.S. reporter facing espionage charges in Russia kicked off earlier today. Evan Gershkovich was arrested in March of last

year and later accused of spying for the CIA. Now Gershkovich, the U.S. government and his paper, "The Wall Street Journal," vehemently denied the

charges against him.

Well, the U.S. believes he will not receive a free and fair trial. In addition, Western officials accused Russia of using jailed Americans like

Gershkovich as political pawns. CNN's Matthew Chance has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: This is the first glimpse of Evan Gershkovich for months. Cameras briefly allowed into the

courthouse about 1,000 miles from Moscow, where his trial for espionage is finally underway.

His head shaved, the 32-year-old "The Wall Street Journal" reporter looked calm but he faces a sentence of up to 20 years, if or likely when he's

found guilty.

The statement the editor in chief of "The Journal" wrote, "This bogus accusation of espionage will inevitably lead to a bogus conviction for an

innocent man."

CHANCE: Hi, Matthew from CNN.

You holding up all right?

No questions.

CHANCE (voice-over): After 15 months, Gershkovich has been held been held under tight security in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo prison.


He, his employer and the U.S. government will vigorously deny the spying allegations against him. But Russia appears determined to press ahead,

despite official U.S. objections.

A new statement from the U.S. embassy in Moscow says, "Evan did not commit any illegal acts and should not have been arrested at all. This trial isn't

about the presentation of evidence, due process or the rule of law. We're talking about the Kremlin using American citizens to achieve its political

goals," the statement adds.

With the conflict raging in Ukraine, Russia began a crackdown at home on free speech, silencing dissidents or forcing them into exile. It's against

this backdrop that Gershkovich was arrested on a reporting assignment in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.


CHANCE (voice-over): This is video from the website of the tank factory there, where Russian prosecutors allege Gershkovich acted, quote, "on the

instructions of the CIA" to collect secret information although no evidence has been made public.

The trial will take place in the city, which is about 1,000 miles from Moscow, amid an outcry.

LESTER HOLT(?), NBC HOST: Journalism is not a crime.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Journalism is not a crime.

CHANCE (voice-over): Some of the most prominent journalists in the United States are calling for his release. And Tucker Carlson even appealed

directly to Putin in his recent sitdown.


TUCKER CARLSON, TV HOST: And I just want to ask you directly without getting into the details of it your version of what happened, if as a sign

of your decency you would be willing to release him to us and we'll bring him back to the United States.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): What we have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run

out of them.


CHANCE (voice-over): But they're not running out of Americans in Russian prisons; far from it.

PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN, PRISONER IN RUSSIA: I am innocent of any kind of political kidnapping.

CHANCE (voice-over): Former Marine Paul Whelan is serving 16 years for what U.S. officials say were trumped-up spying charges. Dual citizens

Ksenia Karelina, an amateur ballerina from L.A., and journalist Alsu Kurmasheva are also in custody, as are Gordon Black, a staff sergeant in

the U.S. Army and U.S. school teacher Marc Fogel.

Critics suspect the Kremlin is collecting U.S. citizens as bargaining chips for a future deal. With this trial for espionage now underway, Evan

Gershkovich is one of the most valuable in the Kremlin's hand -- Matthew Chance, CNN, London.



ANDERSON (voice-over): Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to release its annual banking stress test after the markets close. The test will measure the capital strength of

32 banks to see if they can withstand an economic downturn. And markets will be closely monitoring the performance of major lenders, including

Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

South Korea's military says North Korea sent another 250 waste balloons its way on Monday. Pyongyang says that is retaliation for South Korean

activists sending their own balloons into the North, carrying leaflets critical of its regime.

Meanwhile, a group of activists in South Korea is developing a smart balloon capable of automated drops and equipped with GPS tracker devices.

A NATO military alliance has appointed outgoing Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte as its next secretary general. Rutte is expected to start in his new

role on October the 1st, succeeding Jens Stoltenberg.

The appointment comes at what is, of course, a critical time for NATO as it seeks to bolster its own security while supporting Ukraine's defense

against Russia.

You are watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson, time in Abu Dhabi where we are based is 18:48.

Up next 15,000 athletes are heading for Paris and an army of cooks is getting ready to feed them. We will get you inside the kitchens at the

Olympic Village.





ANDERSON: Want to get you a recap of our top stories on what has been a very busy couple of news hours.

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced a major decision as it nears the end of its term. In a 6-3 ruling, the court allowed the White House and federal

agencies to press social media companies to remove disinformation.

That decision overturned an appeals court ruling and is seen as a win for the Biden administration during this election year.

And in a major U-turn, Kenya's president now says he will not sign the 2024 finance bill, which ignited Tuesday's deadly protests in Nairobi.

Going for Olympic gold means burning an awful lot of calories and the organizers of the upcoming Paris Games think they've crafted the perfect

menu, with more than 500 dishes to meet the dietary needs of the world's greatest athletes.

With just 30 days to go until the opening ceremony, CNN's Saskya Vandoorne reports on the 200 volunteers who tested out the dining facilities in the

Athletes' Village.


SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN PRODUCER: This former power plant inside the Olympic village is now an eco-conscious restaurant for the athletes.

This is just one of the many kitchens that will be fueling future gold medalists. This food hall will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And get this, they'll be serving 45,000 meals a day.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Cooking on this scale presents several challenges.

NATHALIE BELLON-SZABO, CEO, SODEXO LIVE: We have to feed 15,000 athletes for 200 nationalities. And we have to feed a judoka or we have to feed also

a gymnast, which is not the same, you know, they don't eat the same food.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Nutrition is key and chefs have come up with over 500 different dishes with a third of what's on offer being vegetable-based.

In this kitchen, there's plant-based meat but also la moussaka and some French culinary classics but no wine to wash it down with.

VANDOORNE: And are there fries?

VANDOORNE (voice-over): That's right, there's no deep fryer allowed inside the kitchen because of safety reasons.

VANDOORNE: Helene, when you think of athletes and you think of healthy eating, you don't necessarily think about cheesecake, tiramisu, chocolate

muffins. Should the athletes be eating this?

HELENE DEFRANCE, NUTRITIONIST AND OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALIST: Yes, if they're here, it's for a reason, because sometimes you have, like, a hard day. You

spend a lot of energy and you want to add this to your meal, so you can cover your energy needs.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): There will be several cuisines on offer, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, French, Middle Eastern and Halal cuisine. Kosher food will

also be available on demand.

VANDOORNE: So is the food any good?

Let's go and ask Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet what he thinks about it. What do you think, is it any good?


VANDOORNE: Paris organizers have promised the Queen of Games yet, that's why you won't find any plastic in here. You've got your cutlery and you've

got your porcelain bowls made in France.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): They've done away with plastic bottles in favor of reusable cups and these soda fountains.

VANDOORNE: Now when the athletes are done eating, they'll come here. Now there's a special bin for your compost, right there. There's the recycling.

And of course, this is going to head straight into the dishwasher.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): 30,000 plates, 20,000 bowls and 35 people at a time just to load these massive dishwashers. When it comes to cutting

waste, Paris 2024 is going for gold -- Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Paris.



ANDERSON: Well, for our Parting Shots tonight, we enter the world of fine art.


At the same time, the Ladies Room. Let me just pause for a moment for you to have a look at that.

That's right. Pablo Picasso is in the toilet. Let me explain. A museum in Australia has moved two paintings and a drawing by the Spanish master to

the ladies' room after a civil rights tribunal designated their previous exhibition discriminatory.

Tasmania's Museum of old and new art or MONA had a designed ladies' lounge that refused entry to people not identifying as women. Well, a man took

issue with that and complained successfully.

The curator argued that discrimination was part of the installation, giving men a taste of the exclusion that many women have historically felt. The

curator went on to say that while the, quote, "ladies' lounge is reformed to meet requirements," she did a little redecorating.

However you come down on this gender debate, you must admit that is one nicely decorated washroom.

That's it for CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson with you. Working with me here, it's a very good evening. Stay with CNN. "NEWSROOM" is up next.