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Isa Soares Tonight
U.S. Secretary Of State Antony Blinken Renews Calls For A Two-State Solution Between Israel And Palestine; President Biden Says No To Sending F-16 Jets To Ukraine; Thousands Across France Protest Pension Reform; Memphis Fire Department Fires Three Following Tyre Nichols' Death; Renewed Calls For Police Reform; Severely Beaten Iranian Protester Manages To Escape; Radioactive Capsule Goes Missing In Australia. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 31, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, the U.S. Secretary of State wraps up his
visit to a region that's even more tense than usual, renewing calls for a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. Then, the U.S.
President sounds on a critical note, F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine, but are the allies in agreement?
And protests across France, people angry at a government that says it has no choice but to raise the retirement age. But first, the U.S. Secretary of
State says he has no illusions that tensions can be defused overnight. But Antony Blinken says, he's working to lay the foundations for a more stable
as well as secure Middle East.
He wrapped up a diplomatic mission to the region today, giving final remarks in Jerusalem. Blinken's visit comes amid the worst violence between
Israelis and Palestinians in years, with no peace process on the horizon. He announced no concrete agreements, but clearly laid out the goals. Have a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Restoring calm is our immediate task, but over the longer term, we have to do more than just
lower tensions. The United States is committed to working toward our enduring goal of ensuring that Palestinians and Israelis enjoy equal
measures of freedom, security, opportunity, justice, and dignity.
And it's President Biden's firm conviction that the only way to achieve that goal is through preserving and then realizing the vision of two states
for two peoples.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, earlier, Blinken met with the Palestinian Authority President in Ramallah, as you can see there, a day after talks with Israeli leaders
in Jerusalem. He says Palestinians face a shrinking horizon of hope. Mahmoud Abbas says that must change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PRESIDENT, PALESTINE (through translator): Our people will not accept the continuation of the occupation forever, and the regional
security will not be strengthened by violating the sanctity of the holy sites, trampling on the dignity of the Palestinian people and ignoring
their legitimate right to freedom, dignity and independence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, let's get more on all this from Hadas Gold, who's live for us this hour in Jerusalem. So Hadas, we didn't hear any kind of concrete steps
or agreements from Secretary Blinken that may help to try and defuse a cycle of violence. But what stood out to you from what you heard?
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, what stood out for me, first of all, was Antony Blinken saying that although -- I mean, he didn't say
that he didn't make concrete steps, but although he made no announcements about making any concrete steps, he actually did say that members of his
senior staff are staying behind to continue working, to continue with this dialogue.
I don't think anybody expected him at his press statements this afternoon to come forward and say, hey guys, here's my ten step plan on how we're
going to fix the recent spike in violence. But I'm sure some people were hoping that he would at least come forward and say that, the Palestinian
Authority had agreed to restore security coordination or the Israelis were going to moderate some of their steps that they announced they were going
to take in the wake of these recent attacks.
None of that happened, but people were, I think, more just hoping that by him being here, the American message was that there's at least somebody who
is having a dialogue with both sides, even if they, as you noted, he has no illusions that he can defuse the situation in a two-day visit. This is the
beginning of a process.
And keep in mind that this violence that's been spiking in this region, especially the last few days, it's been ongoing. It's been going on since
nearly the beginning of last year. So this isn't necessarily anything new. But this is a new spike. Now, what was interesting is actually right after
Secretary Blinken wrapped his press conference on CNN, we had the Palestine Authority presidential spokesperson, Nabil Abdul Abu Rudeineh who said
actually, you know, we're not going back to that security coordination.
This is something that people thought that Secretary Blinken was going to get the Palestinian Authority potentially try to do. They cut off the
security coordination last week after that raid in Jenin. And the Americans see the security coordination as an important tool in keeping the
communication between Palestinian Authority security services and the IDF going, that it can at least help in some sense to be a tool in combating
violence and combating the tension.
But as a Palestinian Authority presidential spokesperson told CNN, he says that until Israel changes what they're doing, we're not going back to the
security coordination, why should we? And that was after the meetings with Blinken. So I can only imagine that these meetings with the senior State
Department senior staffers will be trying to push forward at least some sort of concrete steps, because the messaging also here is really important
to the people on the ground. The messaging that there's something being done to calm the situation. Isa.
SOARES: And we did hear at length from the Palestinian -- from the spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority President, who had this to say,
Hadas, about whether he thought the results were achieved today. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NABIL ABDUL ABU RUDEINEH, SPOKESPERSON FOR PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENCY: And the success depends on the results. So far, we heard what
we wanted to hear from the American side. He reiterated the commitment of President Biden, two-state solution, no unilateral actions, no expansion of
settlements, no destruction of houses.
This is the agenda of President Mahmoud Abbas. So far, the Israelis are not listening. The Americans are exerting good efforts. We hear good speeches,
but the results on the ground are still zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: So, the results on the ground are still zero, and we heard from Secretary Blinken, Hadas, saying that the only way forward is a two-state
solution. What have we heard from the Israelis regarding what we've heard today from Secretary Blinken?
GOLD: I mean, well, I mean, we're sure that Secretary Blinken, I'm sure, was talking to the Israelis, trying to get them to moderate some of the
positions that the actions that they plan to take after the series of attacks. But yesterday, from Benjamin Netanyahu, we heard from him, he
actually barely mentioned the violence --
SOARES: Yes --
GOLD: And the tension on the ground. Instead, he made sort of one line reference, talking about the Abraham Accords and how expanding
normalization agreements is actually the step towards finding a solution with the Palestinians. I think many people would disagree with that, but I
also think you have to keep in mind the internal political pressures that Netanyahu is facing.
Because first of all, you have the pressure from the public. You know, they've seen these two shooting attacks in Jerusalem. There's fear on the
streets, they want to see action, they want to see security forces boosted, and he's talking about getting more gun permits in the hands of everyday
Actually, Secretary Blinken was specifically asked about that saying, hey, isn't that just going to make things worse if more people are running
around with guns? And he didn't exactly, specifically address that. And Benjamin Netanyahu leads the most right-wing government in Israeli history.
Netanyahu is actually, arguably the more centrist person in his entire government. Everybody else is almost to the right of him. And he has
ministers who are arguing for him to go even further. And some of the ministers are calling for death penalty for people who have been accused of
And so, he has to balance the pressure from the Americans, his own internal pressure, because without this coalition, without his governing partners,
not that he's anywhere near to losing power, but if he -- if these fights between them get big enough, they could threaten to walk away from this
government coalition, and that means Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer prime minister, Isa?
SOARES: Yes, an uphill battle, it seems, for those members of Blinken's team who would then have to try and really reduce the tensions here, lower
tensions. Thanks very much, Hadas Gold for us there in Jerusalem, appreciate it, Hadas. Well, Ukraine's foreign minister is urging allies to
send fighter jets, saying they won't be used to escalate the war, but will deter and defend against Russian attacks.
He warns if Ukraine doesn't receive jets and long-range missiles, Russia will spread its brutal war further into Europe. But Ukraine's allies are
hesitant or are outright refusing. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the United States provide F-16s to Ukraine?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: That was very clear. Well, Kevin Liptak joins me now from Washington D.C. And Kevin, good to see you. Tanks for Ukraine were once
seemed unthinkable, yet they're being --
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes --
SOARES: Sent. So, could fighter jets then be next? I know I --
LIPTAK: Well --
SOARES: Heard no, but tell us --
LIPTAK: Yes, and it's hard to tell from that brief exchange with President Biden, whether he meant no, not right now, or no --
SOARES: Yes --
LIPTAK: Never. And certainly, when you talk to White House officials, U.S. administration officials behind the scenes, they're not ruling anything out
at this point. But certainly, President Biden was pretty clear there that these jets won't be flying to Ukraine anytime soon. And it did come at this
moment when it did seem like there was some momentum towards providing Ukraine with these jets, which they have been requesting for quite some
As it seems like western nations were more willing to provide weapons that they were previously unwilling to. The tanks were the best example of that
just last week. And you have also heard from other western leaders, including the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has recently said that
he would be willing to at least consider the prospect of sending these jets to Ukraine.
And so, President Biden said there, not necessarily ruling it out altogether, but certainly ruling it out for now.
What a White House official told me yesterday after the president said that, was that, there is no serious discussion behind the scenes about
sending these F-16s to Ukraine at the moment. But they are seriously considering any kind of system that they do think would help Ukraine on the
battlefield, and that is really what their focus is at the moment, is what can be most useful to Ukraine as it prepares for this Spring offensive?
And what American officials have determined is that looks like artillery. It looks like armor, looks like weapon systems, and that is not necessarily
looking like fighter jets at the moment. Of course, F-16s are highly sophisticated jets that would require extensive training of the Ukrainian
pilots if they were to use them.
That is possibly one barrier that would be preventing President Biden from giving the go ahead on this right now. Now, President Biden just this
morning was asked if he would talk to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, about his requests going forward. He said that they will talk,
but he didn't necessarily give a date for that conversation. Isa.
SOARES: Kevin Liptak, I know you'll stay on top of this for us, thanks very much, appreciate it, Kevin.
SOARES: Now, disruption and frustration in France for the second time this month. Thousands of workers are striking at the government's pension reform
plans. Mr. Macron wants to raise the pension age from 62 to 64. These were the scenes in Paris earlier. Our correspondent, Melissa Bell was there, and
we're going to be speaking to her live in just a moment.
But first, we want to show you what the atmosphere was like earlier in the day, and here is Melissa's report.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Another massive day of protests here in France and of strike action, not quite as heavy, the
strike action, as it was on January 19th. But still an important show of strength on the part of the unions who are more unified than they have been
in years here in France.
Not since 2010 and the last time a French government tried to reform the pension system. Then Nicolas Sarkozy managed to get it from 60 to 62. Now
Emmanuel Macron is determined that he's going to raise the retirement age here in France from 62 to 64. And he's given himself a very difficult
timetable, getting it through, he hopes, by the Summer through parliament.
The aim of the trade unions who are standing together and intending to cause more strikes and hold more protests against it, is to try and get
Emmanuel Macron to back down on this, what was a key proposal when he was first elected back in 2017.
SOARES: And Melissa Bell joins me now live from Paris, much quieter behind you this time, this hour. Melissa, just give us a sense of just how angry
or disappointed the French are right now with this reform. What have they been telling you?
BELL: Well, there is a great deal of anger out there, and of course, on January 19th, we were out on the streets, there were just over a million
demonstrators then nationwide. That was according to France's official figures. And the point of the trade unions today, Isa, was to top that
number, and they did, 1.3 million, we've just heard the French official figures.
Of course, there's always a discrepancy between what the unions say and what the official figures are, and perhaps most importantly, those images
you saw a moment ago of the march here in Paris, it was 80,000 people on the street, according again, those official figures on January 19th, 87,000
that took part today.
And of course, that's important because the unions want to keep up the momentum. In fact, they've just announced two fresh dates for general
strikes and protests February 7th and February 11th. Their point is that by getting a sufficient number of people out on the street, by seeking to
paralyze the country over the course of the next few weeks, by a series of successive strikes, that they might just get Emmanuel Macron to back down.
But as I mentioned to you a moment ago, this is a reform he's been planning since 2017. He had to back down in 2019. Again, this -- the protests from
the streets, COVID, all of that made him put them on ice. But this is the real test for him, Isa, that he's the reforming president. He promised to
And he's picked a fight, in terms of the timetable he set himself. The unions are saying, this is a fight we're all too willing to wage. Coming
out onto the street and vowing that they're going to get the government to back down, as they did back in 1995 when pension reform was on the cards,
Jacques Chirac had to back down.
The unions really hope that this time, they're going to be able to push this reforming president to admit defeat. He, however, has vowed that he
will stand firm and it is, of course, a test of his mental, a test of his vow to be a reforming president, and it is an important thing that will
count for the rest of his presidency, as four more years left in power, he has other reforms planned.
If he backs down on this one, he will very much prove himself to be a lame duck president. That's why he's been so determined, despite the protests,
to keep on pushing it through, Isa.
SOARES: Yes, and I suppose, Melissa, any kind of reform that asks people to work longer will be unpopular. But like you said, this is very much part of
his plan, exactly what he was elected on. Just explain to us why this is necessary, because, I mean from -- just from looking, I don't want to get
too much into the weeds of the finance, but the country is in deficit, is it not?
BELL: That's exactly right. In fact, we've been hearing from the French Labor Minister speaking from parliament today, he said that if things were
to stand as they have been, it would be a deficit of some 150 billion euros by 2045. That is what he told parliament today, the idea is that the
government will be in deficit when it comes to pensions, specifically, hence, the need to raise them.
Now, what the trade unions say is that this is something the French simply will not stomach, 62 to 64 is something that affects everyone, and what we
saw today on the streets were teachers, trade unions, pension, not just in the private sector, but the public sector as well representing transport
networks, all kinds of different workers who have been out on the streets saying, we simply refuse to work for those two extra years.
This was not what we signed up for. So, it will be a battle of wills going ahead into the Summer, with both sides vowing to see the end thereof. Isa.
SOARES: Melissa Bell, appreciate it. Thanks very much, Melissa. Well, the economic worries that Melissa was mentioning there, many are feeling in
France, also being felt across much of Europe amid rising interest rates as well as an inflation crisis. But there is a glimmer of hope. The
International Monetary Fund is now forecasting a less gloomy, less gloomy economic outlook for 2023.
And that predicts the global economy will grow 2.9 percent this year. That's a slowdown, but less than what was previously expected. China's
reopening is one of the main reasons for the upgrade. CNN's Anna Stewart joins me now to discuss this report. I say less gloomy because, I mean,
it's still pretty gloomy, I'm sorry.
I think we knew the starting point was quite low, anyway.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Maybe we should take some good news while we can have it.
SOARES: OK, give me the good news then, Anna --
STEWART: OK, so the good news is that they have actually -- the outlook for this year is looking better, so they now believe that the global economy
will grow by 2.9 percent. That's more than 2.7 percent, which is only the projection they had three months ago. So, that's a good bit of news there.
There are still headwinds, there are still the war in Ukraine impacting commodity prices, there are still central bank raising rates across the
board, really, to tackle inflation. There are plenty of headwinds, and while one of the upsides to this report is the reopening in China, which
could see a faster recovery, the downside of that is they say that if there are big health implications, post lockdowns in China, well, that could
bring the outlook right back down again.
SOARES: And the downsides are pretty huge, when we were talking about the - -
STEWART: They always are.
SOARES: Prices quite abroad here. But look, one of the ones that we've been talking about, the countries, is U.K. I mean, it's a truly grisly kind of
assessment for the U.K. Just talk about what exactly it says, what it's predicting for the U.K. economy.
STEWART: So, we were looking at economic data last week and --
SOARES: Yes --
STEWART: We knew that the indicators did suggest that the U.K. was heading for a recession, and that it was going to perform worse than many European
nations. And from this outlook, from the IMF, it has performed particularly badly and will continue to do so. They're expecting the U.K. to contract by
0.6 percent this year. The only major economy to do so. And that's a downgrade from nearly a percent from their estimate just three months ago.
SOARES: Why do they say -- why is that?
STEWART: So, why -- so they go into tighter fiscal and monetary policies to tackle inflation. That's the same for many major economies, though. They
also talk about the price of energy, and the U.K. is particularly vulnerable to gas prices, gas is a major part of the overall energy mix. I
think it can also add that to that, though.
Supply disruptions that everyone else has had, and the shortage of labor that everyone else has had was exacerbated in the U.K., not just by the
pandemic but Brexit -- well, by Brexit as well. Plus, the cost of living crisis here is so bad that we're seeing so many strikes. And so, we've had
a lot of days of lost out -- but last year and plenty more to come, particularly tomorrow, we've got strikes of teachers, civil servants,
border full staff and train drivers.
SOARES: And more industrial action, indeed. Anna, thank you very much, appreciate it. And still to come tonight, a community reeling from
violence. We take you into the heart of the Andes in Peru, as locals try to come to terms with some of the deadly protests there. Plus, hope of finding
survivors is fading. The death toll in Pakistan continuing to rise after one of its deadliest attacks in years.
SOARES: Anger and frustration in Peru. The country is in the throes of some of the worst violence it's seen in decades. Anti-government protests have
swept the nation since December. And for many in Peru's Andean region, this is just the beginning. It's those voices that we want to bring you today.
Latin America correspondent for "Channel 4 News", Guillermo Galdos has been traveling through the region, and he has this report.
GUILLERMO GALDOS, LATIN AMERICA CORRESPONDENT, CHANNEL 4 NEWS (voice-over): Deep in the Peruvian Andes, local people have taken control of the mountain
roads. They are supporters of the deposed President Pedro Castillo, who was arrested in December after trying to dissolve congress and rule by decree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GALDOS: Most here are poor, indigenous farmers and minors who work southern Peru's resourced rich land, but see little in return. Castillo, a left-wing
former union leader, promised to change all of that. And these protesters believe he was overthrown by a corrupt political elite in the capital,
Lima, who have never done anything to help them.
Violent protests have spread across Peru since Castillo's removal. Clashes with police have led to more than 50 deaths and hundreds injured.
Castillo's successor, President Boluarte, has done little to quell the anger, refusing to resign and calling the protests terrorism. The
protesters call her a traitor. But while the flash points dominate the headlines, Peru is in a state of paralysis.
Cusco is the closest major town to Machu Picchu, and so relies heavily on tourism. That has completely shut down because tourists have been told it's
too dangerous to travel here. We traveled the winding highways through the Andes, heading for the town of Juliaca. We were stopped at barricade after
barricade. This journey usually takes five hours.
This time, it was two days. Juliaca is the scene of the worst violence during the weeks of chaos. On the 9th of January, 17 people were killed as
police used live ammunition on protesters at the airport. Among those killed was a medical student called Marco Samyan(ph), I met his family, who
told me he was in clear medical uniform and treating an injured protester, but the police shot him anyway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GALDOS: Today, the area around the airport in Juliaca looks like a war zone.
(on camera): This was the place where 17 people died in clashes with the police. Hundreds of people tried to take over the airport, they destroyed
the fence and they were trying to stop police and military reinforcements arriving to the airport. Today, we spoke with the police and they've told
us, they've been authorized to open fire.
(voice-over): I met with a brigade of young volunteer medics, who Marco(ph) was working with the day he was killed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GALDOS: These remote regions have not seen violence like this since the days of Shining Path, a Maoist insurgent group which killed thousands of
Peruvians in the '80s and '90s. The military were sent into crush the far- left group then, and that response killed thousands of civilians too.
Marco's(ph) medical colleagues accompany his family to the cemetery for his funeral. This was a young man who died trying to save the lives of others.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GALDOS: The protests began as support for one politician and his failed coup, but they are beyond that now. This is a cry of anger from people who
don't feel valued by the leaders of their country. They believe their lives are seen as worthless by a government they think just doesn't care whether
they live or die.
SOARES: Important reporting there from Latin America correspondent Guillermo Galdos from "Channel 4 News". Now, the death toll from Monday's
suicide bombing at a mosque in Pakistan has risen to at least 100. It is one of the deadliest attacks in the country in years, and you can see how
walls, windows, and panelling of the mosque were destroyed in that powerful blast.
Authorities are still searching through the rubble, they say hope is fading for any survivors. Funerals are starting to be held for some of the
victims. It's still unclear who is behind the blast. The Pakistan-Taliban initially claimed responsibility, but later denied their involvement.
And still to come tonight, major contradictions are coming to light in the initial police report describing Tyre Nichols' arrest. We'll go live to
Memphis to explore the disturbing questions many are now raising. That is next. Now, that piece was --
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.
Three Memphis Fire Department medical technicians have been fired, as the fallout escalates from the brutal beating and death of Tyre Nichols. And
there's also new, eyebrow raising questions about the policy's (sic) initial report -- police's initial report, pardon me, on really what
happened that night.
The Memphis Fire Department fired the three EMTs, saying they failed to adequately assess Nichols' condition at the scene. Memphis police also
announced they suspended two more officers, in addition to the five others they fired and who are now charged with murder.
Meantime, the brutal videos of Tyre Nichols' arrest appeared to contradict the police's initial report on Nichols' behavior and their own actions in
multiple ways. CNN's Ryan Young is in Memphis for us.
So Ryan, talk to us, first of all, about these discrepancies between the police report and what video evidence shows.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are about five things that stand out. Of course, if you watch that video, you can see just how brutal the
video is. The hitting over and over of this young man as he was pulled out of his car.
After watching the video and looking at the initial police report, one of the things that you will notice is it says that Nichols was agitated and
was an aggravated assault suspect.
Said, he was spreading profusely and irate upon exiting the vehicle. When you watch the video itself, you can see the officers approach with a lot of
aggression. They actually pull him from the car, then there's that initial struggle, where he's asking, what did he do?
So that doesn't really go along with that. Then it says that Nichols grabbed for Detective Martin's gun and it listed Martin as a victim. As you
watch that video, you really never see him attempt to go toward the belt of any of those officers. So that's something else that you can't really
clearly see on any of that video that's listed.
Then it says that Nichols pulled one of the officer's duty belts, then it makes no mention of the kicking, punching and hitting and even the tasing
So all this comes together -- I was actually talking to some Memphis Police Department officers today, when they go use of force, when they go hands on
with somebody who's considered a suspect, they must file a report to go along with the incident report and say what they did, how it escalated, the
And as we look at this so far, we don't have that initial information. Now there's also the fact that another person has been relieved of duty, a
seventh person. We don't have that person's name so far. We've been calling the police department, which has been very transparent so far. They haven't
shared that person's name.
Of course, we talked about those three people connected to the fire department, who were fired because, when you watch this video, you see that
young man sort of in pain and barely able to sit up and no one giving him assistance, that's one of the things that stands out to you as you watch
this video more than one time.
SOARES: And so, Ryan, we don't have the name of the other police officer, who's been relieved of duty. We know that there were two. We know the first
What reasoning are the police giving you for not identifying the second police officer?
And do we know what role the second police officer played here?
YOUNG: Yes, that's the tough part because, as you go through it, you do the initial five because you can see them clearly involved in that initial
beating. You don't know about the other two.
Of course, the officer that's been identified, the one who's white, the only one who's white, he fired his Taser. So the seventh one, we don't have
a clue where he or she may be in this video.
Again, this is a very fast investigation. We've covered these before and sometimes it takes police departments months before they start sharing this
sort of information. So now that we have the information, we have gone back to the police department, asked them why this bit of information is being
You have to wonder whether or not that person has maybe been cooperating with the DA's office and that's why they haven't done it. There's is also a
question about how they can move forward with this. But so far, all these questions have not been answered by the police department or the DA's
SOARES: And I know you will continue to press them. Ryan Young, we appreciate it. Thanks very much, Ryan there from Memphis, Tennessee.
Well, the death of Tyre Nichols is putting the spotlight once again on police reform. CNN political commentator, Van Jones, joins us now from Los
Van, great to have you on the show. Look, let me just start off with what we just heard from Ryan in Memphis.
What questions do you have, really, at this stage about the discrepancies, the contradictions that are now coming to light, then?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, nobody who's familiar with U.S. law enforcement is surprised at all. In other words, I
think there is a mythology that a police report is sort of authored by Moses or Buddha or Jesus Christ; it's a perfect reflection of what actually
Juries treat it that way, judges, prosecutors. But it's always an act of self protection by the police officer writing it.
No police officer is going to write, you know what?
I just kind of lost my temper and beat this guy up. No police report has ever said that.
And so, instead, police officers are trained to assert certain things in those reports, whether they happened or not, to make sure that their
actions are deemed as lawful. So they're going to act like the person was violent, et cetera.
What's happening now for the whole world is we are peeling back the curtain, because you can see what was written on paper versus what was
recorded on video and that discrepancy happens every single day, all across this country, when it comes to U.S. law enforcement.
SOARES: So Van, potentially this report, the discrepancies potentially are a cover-up here.
Is that what you're insinuating?
JONES: I'm saying it's a cover-up and it's a routine cover-up. It's a part of U.S. policing. In fact, in tough cases, police officers are actually
allowed to consult their own lawyers before they write the police report.
Now why do you need a lawyer to write a police report if you're just reporting what just happened?
So that's what we are dealing with.
SOARES: Look, on this side of the Atlantic -- and you probably get this when you travel, Van -- is that we ask, how is this happening again in the
I mean, Nichols' brother called it a never-ending nightmare.
So just explain to our viewers around the world, why has it been so hard, then, for the need or of police reform to actually move in the United
JONES: Well, because the police in the United States -- and probably in other countries as well -- are, in general, highly respected. They're a
very powerful political force. If you're running for office, you want the police endorsement. You want the sheriff's endorsement. You want the DA's
If you don't, your opponent will use that against you, that you are soft on crime, that you don't care about public safety. And so, the police use that
power to give themselves unbelievable protections in the law.
Also, the police officers' unions use their leverage to get unbelievable protections in the contracts.
And so, what happens is, allegedly, to protect good cops from being taken out, taken off the force because they made a mistake, et cetera, you wind
up, you might protect one good cop who made a mistake but you protect 100 bad cops who are corrupt and terrible.
And this has just been a -- before you get into the racism of it all, just a structure of U.S. law enforcement. They are a political force in our
country. And lawmakers are afraid of them and give them protections that, unfortunately, protect the worse in the police department rather than just
SOARES: And we will talk about race in just a second. I mean, Nicholas' (sic) family attorney told us, it's a shame on us if we don't really use
Nichols' tragic death to finally get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed.
But with this divided government, what's the likelihood, Van, of any sort of legislation, really, making it to President Biden's desk.
JONES: I think it's very, very slim. And I think it's really unfortunate. We are almost three years since George Floyd happened. President Trump put
forward an executive order because he couldn't get Congress to do anything. And then Biden put forward a more robust executive order.
JONES: So both U.S. presidents, Trump and Biden, have taken small bites of this. But in order to have a real reform, you need Congress to act. And
they probably won't.
I want to tell you how terrible it is here. There is no uniform screen for sociopaths and psychopaths to be kept out of U.S. law enforcement. In other
words, when you apply to be a police officer in the United States, even if your department is getting federal money, there is no screen, there is no
There's no check to see whether or not you are a sociopath or a psychopath. That is how wide open the doors are for people to join U.S. law enforcement
who have no business having a gun or a badge.
Then once they join, they're protected, as I told you, by layers and layers of bureaucratic and legal protection. That's why we have this nightmare
before you even get to race.
SOARES: So what needs to be done, then, right now?
I mean, more oversights, swifter punishment?
The Memphis police have disbanded this SCORPION unit and I'm guessing there are other similar units throughout the country, Van.
JONES: There are. And I think that Memphis has set an example in terms of speed. There have been other -- unfortunately, as your viewers are quite
aware -- there have been dozens of videos of misconduct.
Usually it takes very long time to get anything done. But Memphis, the city police department, has done a great job of firing them quickly, jailing
them quickly, disbanding the unit quickly. That needs to happen across the country in the future.
But we still need federal action. The George Floyd Policing Act needs to be passed and if not, in whole, they need to find some pieces or parts that
can be passed because, obviously, there are too many rogue elements in U.S. law enforcement for federal action to continue to be missing.
SOARES: And I want to ask you this because I know you've written about this. And I found your article really enlightening, worrying at the same
time, the question of race. Chief Davis told CNN that the five officers who have been charged -- obviously, we've been reporting they are Black. That
means that, quote, "race is off the table."
JONES: No, it's not because it's not the color of the victimizer that counts. It's the color of the victim. In other words, you could have, as
you have in Memphis, a Black police chief, a majority Black police department.
But if, when they go into Black communities, they act like warriors and treat it like a war zone and hurt people and abuse human rights, then if
they go into white communities, they act completely differently, they act like protectors, then you have racial bias in the policing.
It's not -- listen, in most countries, the people watching right now, the human rights abusers look just like the human rights victims.
So you can't say that if a particular group is being targeted and you have a pattern and practice of misconduct against that group, that just because
the color of the officers in that particular case is different, that somehow race is off the table.
As long as you see this pattern of one group of people being singled out, you have a racial problem, no matter who's swinging the baton.
SOARES: Such an important analysis there from Van Jones. Really appreciate it, Van. Thank you very much.
And still to come tonight, a harrowing account by an Iranian protester who says he was brutally beaten and imprisoned by police. We will hear his
terrifying story in his own words in a CNN exclusive. That's next.
SOARES: An Iranian man who says he was shot and beaten by security forces is speaking about his experience after almost dying, sent to jail for
protesting and finally fleeing Iran. He says he would do it all over again.
He spoke exclusively to our Jomana Karadsheh about his ordeal. And a caution, her report contains tragic content you may find disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was one of the most terrifying videos to emerge, from Iran, a protester, surrounded
by armed regime forces, trying to fend them off, with a knife.
Shots are fired before he falls to his knees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Ashkan Morovati later appeared in intensive care, barely conscious, with his parents by his side.
ASHKAN MOROVATI, KURDISH IRANIAN PROTESTER (through translator): I had a severed artery, in my leg. I had around 200 shotgun pellets, in my body. I
had serious wounds.
Even after I surrendered and they arrested me, they beat me around 100 times, in the head and the rest of my body, with batons. When they were
transporting me, to the hospital, they shot me, from a very close range, with a shotgun. They thought that I'll be dead.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): But Ashkan survived and with him a tale of unimaginable horror.
MOROVATI (through translator): I was the man, who died and was brought back to life. As I'm speaking with you, I still have 20 shotgun pellets, still
lodged, in my body.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): He escaped Iran, now a wanted man, in hiding, speaking exclusively, to CNN.
For his safety, he won't say where he is.
MOROVATI (through translator): I got out of the country, through mountains and deserts, while heavily bleeding and in very, very bad condition. I died
so many times, before I got out of the country.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): As he lay in hospital, hanging on to life, by a thread, he was charged with Moharebeh, waging war against God, a crime
punishable by death, in the Islamic Republic.
Regime agents raided this hospital and dragged Ashkan to jail.
MOROVATI (through translator): When someone is taken from the ICU, straight to prison, this is kind of the death sentence.
In prison, I went through unbearable agony, because all my wounds were open. I used salt, to try to disinfect my wounds just a little bit.
They badly tormented me. They sent me to an army hospital that was not equipped to treat me. I was there in that condition with both my hands and
feet, chained to the bed.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): People, of his Kurdish town of Sanandaj protested for his release. His family paid all they have, to bail him out, for
medical treatment. And with the help of friends, he made it out of Iran.
MOROVATI (through translator): I was a professional boxer, a fighter. I was so eager, about my future and had a plan to pursue this sport, as a career.
But because my leg and the rest of my body, has been severely injured, I can't do that anymore.
Being away from my family and know the pressure that they have endured, because of me, is mentally tormenting me. I'm not feeling OK, physically or
KARADSHEH: What do you want the world to know, about what is happening, inside Iran, right now?
MOROVATI (through translator): There are so many like me, who, sadly, gave their life. But their voice didn't reach outside. There are so many brave
girls and boys inside Iran. Our only crime is that we demand freedom and democracy and want our women to be equal to our men.
We shouted "Women, life, freedom," and their response to us is only bullet, only torturing, raping prisoners.
I saw many young people, 16-year olds, 17-year olds get killed. They killed so many. They blinded so many. I swear to God, I can't sleep at night,
thinking about those things.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Ashkan remains undeterred. Once he recovers, he says, he's ready to go back and continue the fight for a free Iran.
MOROVATI (through translator): I have no regrets. And I am proud of what I did. I will give my life, for my people, for my Iran, not one time but
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.
SOARES: Well, the Iranian government did not respond to CNN's request for comment in his case and the widespread allegations of torture, his
treatment as well as killing of protesters.
And still to come tonight, why the massive search for a dangerous radioactive capsule in Australia is like looking for a needle in a
SOARES: A military coup in Russia is becoming a possibility. That's according to Vladimir Putin's former speech writer. Abbas Galiyamov told
CNN Mr. Putin may even try to cancel next year's presidential election. He says the Russian economy is deteriorating, the war is lost and the people
are in tatters (ph). Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBAS GALIYAMOV, VLADIMIR PUTIN'S FORMER SPEECH WRITER: Russians will be coming across more and more difficulties and they will be trying to find an
explanation of why this is happening to us.
And in this situation, they'll be looking around in politics, into the political process and they'll be answering themselves, well, this is
because our country is governed by an old tyrant, an old dictator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: You can see more of that interview on cnn.com.
Now a dangerous radioactive capsule is missing. It's about the size of a coin and it could cause radiation burns, even cancer. Officials in
Australia are hoping to find it before someone gets sick. CNN's Marc Stewart explains.
MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Authorities feel the chance of finding this radioactive capsule is slim. First, it's no bigger than a
coin and then they believe it fell off a truck on a section of Australia's Great Northern Highway.
That's a distance longer than the California coastline. We're told it was placed inside a package on a truck and was later noticed missing during an
Nonetheless, a search is underway using vehicles equipped with specialized radiation detection equipment, traveling at a speed of 31 miles per hour,
so the equipment has time to detect the radiation.
STEWART: The capsule contains a substance that can lead to serious health problems if humans come in contact with it. Skin burns, radiation sickness
and potentially deadly cancer risk, especially for those exposed unknowingly for long periods of time.
There is also concern by authorities that the capsule may have been stuck in another truck's tire, taking it further away. Even wild animals could
have moved it, including birds -- Marc Stewart, CNN, Hong Kong.
SOARES: Very much a needle in a haystack.
And finally, actress Pamela Anderson is reclaiming her narrative with a new documentary, "Pamela, A Love Story." The project premiered yesterday in Los
Angeles. It details the violation she felt when her intimate home video was stolen, if you remember, and distributed.
Despite being the victim, she was subjected to ridicule and misogyny. She shared the simple reminder that helped her through it all, happiness is a
Very good advice. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS with Richard Quest is up next. I shall see you