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One World with Zain Asher

Pope Francis Presides Over The Passion Of The Lord Service; Holy Day Marred By Threat Of Starvation; Eight-Year-Old Girl Becomes Sole Survivor Of A Bus Crash In South Africa That Claimed 45 Lives; Beyonce's New Album "Cowboy Carter" Released Today; Today Marks American Journalist Evan Gershkovich Day One Detention In Russia; Hollywood Movie Star And Civil Rights Activist Louis Gossett, Jr. Passes Away At 87. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 12:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, coming to you live from New York, I'm Zain Asher. You are, indeed, watching ONE WORLD. Pope Francis is presiding

over the Passion of the Lord service at this hour. I want to show you some live pictures from inside St. Peter's Basilica.


ASHER: Of course, the iconic church where the faithful are marking Good Friday. Later on today, the Pope is going to preside over the Way of the

Cross at the Colosseum, a procession that marks the stages of Jesus' crucifixion.

I want to bring in CNN Vatican Correspondent Christopher Lamb, joining us now.


ASHER: The Pope does appear, based on what I've seen, the images I've seen out there, the Pope does appear to be in better health in the days leading

up to Easter. And of course, it's going to be a very busy weekend for him. Just sum up what his overall message is going to be this Easter for the


CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zain, I think the message is going to be one of emphasizing the importance of service, of

humility and reconciliation. Pope Francis, as we can just see, has arrived in St. Peter's Basilica for the Good Friday Passion service. It's a long

and intense service.

Francis, who has been battling some health difficulties, does seem to be much better and is participating fully in the Holy Week liturgies.

Yesterday, he was at a female prison in Rome where he washed the feet of 12 female inmates, the first time that a Pope has only washed the feet of

female inmates at this service. And at that liturgy, he emphasized the importance of service and humility.

Today, we have the recalling of Jesus' death and resurrection -- death and suffering, which takes place at this service that we're seeing, but also

later tonight at the Colosseum, we will have the Stations of the Cross service. The Pope has written the reflections for that liturgy, which is

quite unusual, and he has covered a whole range of topics in those meditations, including online hatred, injustices against women.

So, Francis, as always, trying to take this message of Easter, the message of the days before Easter, out to the world to try and connect it with as

many people as possible, despite suffering from bouts of ill health, despite his lack of mobility, the Pope seems determined to keep going.

ASHER: All right, Christopher Lamb, live for us there. Thank you so much. All right, in the city where Christianity was founded, worshippers of

Jerusalem are singing hymns. They're also carrying that wooden cross there to commemorate Good Friday.

They've been retracing what is traditionally thought to be the route that Jesus took his crucifixion -- his crucifixion, rather, in Calvary. That

route along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's Old City also leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, said to be the holiest site in the world for


Meantime, in Gaza, today's Holy Day is being marred by the very real threat of starvation. The International Court of Justice saying, quote, "Famine is

setting in and the World Court is calling on Israel to let more humanitarian aid into the enclave." Israel responding, saying, it wishes,

in its words, "No harm to the civilian population of Gaza." Prime Minister Netanyahu has given his approval for Israeli negotiators to restart hostage

talks in the coming days.

You may recall at the start of this week, the U.N. Security Council had passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. But sorrow

has unfortunately overtaken that flicker of hope. I want you to listen to this.


JAMES ELDER, SPOKESPERSON, UNICEF: There was so much hope in Gaza after Monday's call for a ceasefire. Let's be very clear, that hope, night after

night, is being drowned out by bombs. This is the Mohammed -- seven-year- old Mohammed. This is the face of a post-Security Council resolution for a ceasefire.


ASHER: We're also getting word from Gaza's civil defense calling for the International Community to rescue people who are near the Al-Shifa Hospital

in Gaza City.


The IDF says Israeli military operations are continuing there. After that stark declaration from the International Court of Justice saying famine is,

quote, "setting in in Gaza". CNN's Jomana Karadsheh takes a closer look at starving Gazans' daily struggle to find food. They are desperate. And we

want to warn you that some of the images you are about to see are very disturbing.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video, filmed 11 days ago at a northern Gaza hospital, captured little Mohammed's final

days, his labored breaths and all that staff tried to do to keep him alive.

On Thursday, six-year-old Mohammed became the 24th Palestinian child to die of malnutrition and dehydration in Gaza. And the fear is many more

vulnerable lives could be lost. Hunger is in every corner of this besieged territory. The pain visible in the eyes of mothers like Najla, who's

helplessly watched her children go hungry for months.

Her husband, Mehran, has thought the unthinkable, throwing his children in the sea, he says, to spare them this torture of an existence. Dante's

family endured months of bombardment in northern Gaza, but it's a looming famine there that's pushed them out of their home.

"If you grab a bag of flour, someone can kill you to take it," Mehran says. "Our daily meal for our children became things we hadn't heard of before,

like ground soybeans in a wild plant that we'd never tasted before, food that animals refuse to eat, we ate." What they'll do, where they'll go,

they don't know. All they want right now is to feed their little ones.

"My children were crying every night asking for a piece of bread, Najla says. We were dreaming of white bread, we were eating animal feed." For the

first time in five months, they say, the children are having real food, even if only plain bread.

This is what Dante's family left behind in the north, scenes that tell of the desperation of so many who also just want to feed their children, as

they rush the little aid that's made it into this part of Gaza. More than a million Palestinians are now facing catastrophic levels of hunger,

according to a U.N.-backed report, with famine projected to arrive in the north any day now.

In this man-made crisis, where Israel's been accused of using starvation as a weapon of war, something it denies, people every day find themselves

scavenging for food, forced to pick wild plants to boil and eat. This grandmother can't hold back her tears as she washes weeds and leaves. "It's

today's meal, what else can we do," she says. It's the indignity of hunger, avoidable suffering as the world watches on. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


ASHER: Absolutely heartbreaking images there, I want to bring in CNN's Melissa Bell joining us live now from Tel Aviv. So, Melissa, we know that a

U.N. Court has actually ordered Israel to allow more food and medical aid into Gaza, but the court obviously lacks the ability or the authority to

actually enforce it, so what happens next, especially when you think about the looming catastrophe that Jomana Karadsheh just laid out in her piece?

MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, I think Zain, what's interesting about this latest order from the ICJ in The

Hague is that it explains that in its earlier order in January it hadn't taken into account the worsening situation on the ground, i.e. the famine

that you just saw so graphically exposed there in Jomana's piece.

That is its reason, it says, for its second order, and yet we've already had a response from the Israeli foreign ministry saying that it is doing

all it can to get aid inside the Gaza Strip and denying that there is an issue with that.

So, again, you have this sort of disconnect, Zain, between Israeli authorities saying they are doing what they can to alleviate suffering

inside the Gaza Strip and the images that are coming to us very clearly, some of them shot as were those pictures of young Mohammed Al-Jarrah by our

own cameraman inside the Gaza Strip showing a very different picture to the one that Israel is speaking of.

So, the question now, what difference this latest order makes on the ground, the suspicion is very little. The United Nations again yesterday

published a map showing the difficulties in getting aid in, insisting that the only way to get that much needed aid inside the Strip is through land

crossings. We've seen the disaster that was the attempts to get it in through the air these last few days, or certainly the disastrous

consequences in terms of human lives, and showing how difficult it is.


What the U.N. said was that the impediments to getting aid in remain huge and time is running out, Zain.

ASHER: All right, Melissa Bell, live for us there. Thank you so much. All right, an eight-year-old girl is the sole survivor of a fiery bus crash in

South Africa that claimed 45 lives. The accident happened Thursday on a mountain pass in Limpopo province when the bus slammed through a barrier

and plunged off a bridge into a ravine. The bus was traveling to an Easter conference.

One local official says only 12 bodies, so far, have been recovered because many of the bodies have been burned beyond recognition. The little girl was

airlifted to the hospital with, as you can imagine, quite serious injuries. The cause of the crash at this point is still under investigation.

All right, a massive but delicate salvage operation is underway right now in Baltimore. Crews have the daunting task of removing thousands of tons of

twisted steel and debris from the harbor after this week's devastating bridge collapse. The latest crane on the East Coast arrived this morning.

The U.S. Navy is also assisting. They're also helping out with recovery operations, as well. The governor of Maryland says it's going to be a

complicated process.


WES MOORE, MARYLAND GOVERNOR: The Dali is almost as long as the Eiffel Tower. And the Dali has the Key Bridge on top of it. We're talking three to

four thousand tons of steel that's sitting on top of that ship. So, we've got work to do.


ASHER: CNN's Gabe Cohen is joining us live now from Baltimore. The governor there really put it in perspective, right? The Dali is as long,

pretty much almost as long as the Eiffel Tower. Even though you had a very, very large crane arriving and various other vessels, as well, there is a

very complex task ahead of rescue services and emergency services this next few months.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's right, and it is going to take a long time to get this done. If you look behind me in the distance,

you can actually see that crane, that first one to arrive, standing up there in the river.

Two more cranes are currently on their way as we speak, according to the Transportation Secretary. And an officer at the command center tells me

they're hoping this first crane can begin its work, start clearing debris a little bit later today. But right now, engineers are still trying to figure

out how they are going to safely and effectively cut those pieces of the bridge into smaller chunks to be able to remove them.

And bear in mind, it is going to be not just a complicated operation, but they're also going to be doing it in a very deliberate and sensitive way

because there's concern that those four missing construction workers are buried under that rubble and they still want to send in divers once this

operation is complete to recover those four men and offer closure to their families.

But look, this is going to take time. We expect days, potentially weeks, which is a difficult pill to swallow for people here in Baltimore because

the port of Baltimore is still basically shut down today. Thousands of jobs are at risk, millions of dollars in lost salaries and business operations.

So, they really want to get this channel reopened. But in order to clear that much steel -- and if you look again at that bridge, what is so

striking is that it seems fair -- I should say the crane, it seems fairly small to be the largest crane vessel on the East Coast.

And that is because it pales in comparison to the size of that ship, nearly the size of the Eiffel Tower, as you mentioned, plus the massive sections

of the bridge, all of that steel and concrete, and so much of it is below the surface of the water, Zain. So, in getting that cleared in that safe

and effective manner is going to take a long time. And that's something that officials are navigating right now as they get ready to start the work

with those cranes.

ASHER: All right. Gabe Cohen, live for us there. Thank you so much. Okay. So, it's exactly one year since "Wall Street Journal" Reporter Evan

Gershkovich was detained in Russia on espionage charges. Russia has never provided any evidence to back up the claim that Gershkovich was some kind

of spy. U.S. President Joe Biden commemorated what he called the painful anniversary of his detention, saying that he will, quote, never give up on

his release.

"The Wall Street Journal" is marking the anniversary in today's print edition by leaving a large section of its front page blank. The space

represents the missing articles Gershkovich never wrote because of his detention. The journal's headline says, in part, his story should be here.

The crime? Journalism.

A little later in this program, I will be speaking with a long-time friend of Evan Gershkovich to see how friends and families are feeling on this



So, stay tuned for that. All right. A sitting U.S. federal judge is issuing a harsh rebuke to Donald Trump for his verbal attacks against the judge

overseeing Trump's trial tied to hush money payments. Here's a look at just some of what the former president has written about.

Judge Juan Merchan, in a rare interview, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton told CNN's Kaitlan Collins that what Trump is doing serves to increase the

danger to judges and their families. Here's some of that interview.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNNA ANCHOR: I think to a lot of people, the dangers of attacking a judge and his family and their family is clear. I wonder how

you would respond to something like this.

REGGIE WALTON, U.S. DISTERICT JUDGE: Well, it's very disconcerting to have someone making comments about a judge, and it's particularly problematic

when those comments are in the form of a threat, especially if they're directed at one's family. I mean, we do these jobs because we're committed

to the rule of law and we believe in the rule of law. And the rule of law can only function effectively when we have judges who are prepared to carry

out their duties without the threat of potential physical harm.

COLLINS: And you know personally, I mean, what this is like. Someone threatened your daughter once, as well.

WALTON: Yes, threatened me one day and then the next day called and made a threat against my daughter and also indicated my address. So, they

obviously had done some research to find out that I had a daughter and what her name was and also where I live.

COLLINS: I mean, what's that even, that must be terrifying.

WALTON: Well, it is, but you kind of have to appreciate that you can't let that impact on how you live your life and how you treat litigants who are

before you, because even though threats may be made against you and against your family, you still have an obligation to ensure that everybody who

comes into your courtroom is treated fairly regardless of who they are or what they've done.


ASHER: All right, that was CNN's Kaitlan Collins with U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. All right, still to come here --


ASHER: The biggest name in R and B is changing up her musical style. Everything you need to know about Beyonce's very first country music album

when we come back.






ASHER: Beyonce, one of the most powerful voices in R and B and pop music, has gone country. The music industry is buzzing, everybody's literally

talking about this. Her new album released today, titled "Cowboy Carter", it is filled with songs that clearly have deep country music influences and

feature guest appearance from several big country music stars, including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, as well.


ASHER: But Beyonce wrote on Instagram that genres of music will be irrelevant. She added that the album came out of an experience where she

did not feel welcome, widely believed to be her appearance at that 2016 Country Music Awards, which was met with a lot of criticism and questions

about whether she belonged at a country show. She sure belongs now. Joining me live now is CNN Anchor Victor Blackwell. Victor, look at you. You came


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I woke up feeling it.

ASHER: You're ready.

BLACKWELL: I felt it this morning.

ASHER: "Cowboy Carter" meets Cowboy Victor, clearly. So, which song, I know you've spent the past few hours --


ASHER: -- listening to the album on repeat, as have I. I've been jamming out in my office, which is the song that you simply cannot get out of your


BLACKWELL: You know, when I started the day, it was "Sweet Honey Buckiin" because I like the mix of that beat with Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces".

But the more I listen to her duet with Miley Cyrus on "Two Most Wanted", that is just a really classic country love song. Let me play a bit of that

and then we'll talk some more.

ASHER: Okay.


BLACKWELL: That, it just feels good. It's buttery, but still just a little bit of rasp in there to keep it raw. You know, when I heard "Texas Hold'em"

and "16 Carriages", the two songs that were released at the Super Bowl, I expected a mix of traditional and contemporary country only. But this

album, 27 tracks and interludes, has a bit of folk and pop and hip-hop and R and B. There's even a stretch of opera in the track "Daughters". As she

says, genres are irrelevant and she is mixing and moving between those lines.

ASHER: Yeah, I mean, I haven't been, you know, listening to the album, I just, I've never really heard anything quite like it. And what I love about

it is that I love that she didn't lose herself, right, in her quest to sort of break down barriers and enter the country music world. It is a country

music album for sure. But as she points out, it is her, right? It is quintessentially her album, as well.

So, when people think of black music, as you and I know, Victor, they don't, this is not what they think of. Okay. They think of hip-hop, they

think of rap, they think of R and B. Is that going to change? I mean, do you think that black musicians are now going to be a bit more welcome in

this world going forward?

BLACKWELL: Well, I hope so. And I know that from what Beyonce said has been the catalyst for this album and what she says on this album, she

believes, as well. Listen, we've got these numbers that from a study released by SongData about four years ago, they looked at 19 years of

country music radio play, 11,484 songs. There were only songs by three black women. Look at this.

Artists played on U.S. radio, 98 percent white, 0.6 percent black, 0.9 percent other people of color, 0.5 percent multiracial. So, country music

has been a monolith racially, but the music here on this album, I think she shows that not only are the origins of country music black, but she uplifts

other country black artists -- country music artists that otherwise would not have this platform.

ASHER: Yes. For example, Linda Martell. I mean, there are a lot of people that I hadn't heard of, right? Shaboozey being one of them, who's

apparently Nigerian American. I should really know about him --


ASHER: -- because I'm Nigerian, but I'd never heard of him. Also, Linda Martell, who apparently was a country music -- black country music artist

in this country in the 70s. Again, Beyonce is very unselfish in that way. She always uses her platform to lift up other people.


ASHER: I find that she does that quite a lot, but unfortunately, we have to leave it there. I could talk to you about this for literally the whole


BLACKWELL: There's so much in this album. There's so much, Zain.

ASHER: I could do a Beyonce special with you, Victor, talking about this album, but we have to leave it there. Thank you so much. You look fabulous,

by the way.

BLACKWELL: Thank you. Good to be here. Thank you.

ASHER: Thank you so much. All right.


Hollywood movie star and civil rights activist Louis Gossett, Jr. has passed away at the age of 87. The Academy Award winner made history by

becoming the first African-American to win the coveted award for Best Supporting Actor at the movie 1982's "An Officer and a Gentleman". CNN's

Stephanie Elam shares the legacy he left behind, both on and off the screen.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Louis Gossett, Jr. played some of T.V., stage, and film's most recognized characters, but behind the

scenes, he was an activist with an audacious goal, ending racism. Gossett debuted on stage as a teenager. A basketball injury had knocked him off the

court. He signed up for an acting class and found his calling.

LOUIS GOSSETT, JR., HOLLYWOOD MOVIE STAR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I grew up with this ability to seek anything I want without the shadows of my


ELAM (voice-over): That first Broadway role was in a play aptly named Take a Giant Step. Other parts followed, like The Blacks and A Raisin in the


Gossett continued to hone his craft with an eye toward Hollywood, taking classes alongside Marilyn Monroe and Martin Landau. But as a black actor,

it wasn't easy. I had to relearn the importance of what it takes to survive in this town. I had to act as if I was second class. I had to ingest the

onus of being an African-American person in America.

In 1961, Gossett made his silver screen premiere in the film version of A Raisin in the Sun.

I'm a poet, philosopher, poet. During the 70s, he appeared in several blackploitation films, but struggled to land significant and good-paying

roles. That all changed in 1977, when he played "Fiddler" in the groundbreaking T.V. miniseries, "Roots".

UNKNOWN: Play me a song I want you to hear.

ELAM (voice-over): Gossett initially didn't want the part. He explained in this Television Academy Foundation interview.

GOSSET, JR.: I started doing the research, and I realized there's no such thing as an Uncle Tom. And those particular people, those stepping fetches,

those particular people, if they had not survived, I wouldn't be sitting here.

Elam (voice-over): He earned an Emmy for his breakout performance in "Roots". But it was his 1982 portrayal of a marine drill instructor.

UNKNOWN: You said you wanted to meet me in private?

ELAM (voice-over): In "An Officer and a Gentleman" that thrust Gossett into bona fide stardom.

GOSSET, JR.: I was the only black actor that went up for the "Officer and Gentleman" part, and I got it.

ELAM (voice-over): Gossett won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

UNKNOWN: Look at me when I talk to you. He went on to play more tough military roles in the "Iron Eagle" movies and the miniseries, "Sadat". I

would go to Jerusalem.

ELAM (voice-over): Where he portrayed the late Egyptian leader.

UNKNOWN: Speak up now.

ELAM (voice-over): In 1992, he won a Golden Globe playing civil rights activist Sidney Williams in HBO's "The Josephine Baker Story". But then,

the actor's career fell flat. By the early 2000s, he was hooked on drugs and alcohol. Addictions he said were fueled by racism experienced

throughout his career. By 2006, Gossett was sober and eager to deal with racism head on. He started Eracism, a non-profit foundation dedicated to

ending racial prejudice starting with youngsters.

Early in 2010, Gossett announced he had prostate cancer. Then went on to have a distinguished decade, mostly in T.V. shows like "Madam Secretary" --

GOSSET IN "MADAM SECRETARY: That is exactly what he would say.

ELAM (voice-over): -- an HBO's watchman. Through it all, he continued to fight racism and set an example. As an actor, as an activist and as a






ASHER: All right. It's been exactly one year since American journalist Evan Gershkovich was detained in Russia. And this is how his employer is

marking that grim anniversary. The front page of today's "Wall Street Journal" is mostly blank, representing the articles that Gershkovich never

got to write. The headline says, in part, his story should be here. The crime? Journalism.

Meantime, the Kremlin says ongoing contacts about Gershkovich's possible exchange must be conducted in absolutely --silence --silent or they'll be

less likely to succeed. As CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports, Gershkovich remains defiant in his own way.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No media allowed at Evan Gershkovich's most recent court hearing in Moscow.

Just this short clip by the court's press service. Despite a year in a Russian jail, a defiant smile from "The Wall Street Journal" reporter. No

surprise, his detention was extended yet again through June 30th. The U.S. Ambassador to Russia ripping into the verdict.

LYNNE TRACY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: The accusations against Evan are categorically untrue. They are not a different interpretation of

circumstances. They are fiction.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Evan Gershkovich was arrested and charged with espionage a year ago while on assignment in Yekaterinburg, Central Russia.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, SPOKESWOMAN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): I do not know if there are any other cases, but the

allegations made by our intelligence services today were not related to his journalism. "The Wall Street Journal" and Gershkovich's family strongly

deny the allegations. Polina Ivanova of "The Financial Times" is one of Evan's best friends and still keeps in regular contact with him writing


POLINA IVANOVA, "FINANCIAL TIMES" REPORTER: He's doing remarkably well. He's absolutely staying strong. He's not allowing himself to, you know, to

wallow, to get too upset by everything. In fact, he spends most of his time in letters to us trying to make us feel better.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Gershkovich faces a jail sentence of up to 20 years if convicted. But CNN has reported that Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine

Paul Whelan were part of a proposed prisoner swap with a now-dead opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

The Russian President taunted on his re-election day that he approved a swap on the condition he'd get back a high-profile Russian intelligence

officer in prison for murder in Germany, Vadim Krasikov.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The person who spoke to me had not finished his sentence yet. I said I agree, but

unfortunately what happened, happened.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): For those close to Evan, that means the waiting continues, outcome uncertain.


IVANOVA: When you see Putin talk about it and in, you know, very clear terms that this is what they want to see happen, that they are looking for

a deal, you know, it just gives you hope that at some point this will, this, you know, that he will be home. He needs to be home. He needs to be

back with his family, with his friends.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


ASHER: All right, time now for The Exchange. Our next guest, Jeremy Berke is a close personal friend of Evan Gershkovich. They lived together in New

York during the early stages of their journalism careers. Jeremy is now the founder and editor-in-chief of "Cultivated Daily". Jeremy joins us from

Park City, Utah.

So, Jeremy, he's a good friend. He's also an old roommate of yours. I mean, just the fact that he's been detained in Russia for a whole year, beggars

belief. I know that the last time you had contact with him, you last received a letter from Evan about two months ago. I mean, can you share

with us a little bit more about what he said in that letter? I know it's obviously personal, but whatever you can share. And, of course, how he's


JEREMY BERKE, FRIEND OF EVAN GERSHKOVICH: Yeah, first off, thanks for the opportunity to share Evan's story. Every time we can get his name out

there, it helps, so, we really appreciate the opportunity.

You know, I want to keep the specific details of letters private for his request, but I can tell you in broad strokes what we discuss. You know, as

a group of friends in New York, we try and keep him sane. He's confined to a cell for 23 hours a day. And we try and inject some levity into his life

in any way we can. So, you know, we talk about sports.

You know, I talk about my upcoming wedding that I'm planning, which I'm still hopeful that he'll be in attendance. You know, we talk about a little

bit of everything. You know, I'm a journalist, as well, and we gossip about the media. And we just try and do what we can to keep him connected to all

of us here at home.

ASHER: There are a few things more depressing than being detained in a Russian prison with no idea when you're going to be able to get out. Just

in terms of some of the images, the videos that we see, we're actually showing one of them now. You often see him in the courtroom in this sort of

glass cage.

Sometimes you do see him smile, which always really surprises me. Clearly, he is a very -- there he is, smiling there. I mean, he clearly is an

extremely resilient person. Can you just sort of sum up to us what he's like, you know, his personality?

BERKE: Yeah, look, I always say this. I mean, and I don't say it lightly. Like, Evan is one of my favorite friends. He's a true extrovert's

extrovert. He's gregarious. He's funny. He's absolutely goofy in his personal life. But in his professional life, he's a very serious reporter,

and he's very dedicated to his mission.

And he's able to, you know, have his foot in both worlds in a way that's unlike anyone else I've ever seen. Looking at him in the glass box, you

know, we sort of call it a fishbowl when he does his appearances in the courtroom. It's quite dehumanizing, but if anyone's able to smile and

reassure those of us here at home that he is okay, it's Evan.

He is maintaining his sanity in very rough conditions, like I said, confined to his cell for 23 hours a day through sheer force of will. He's

reading. He's exercising. He's meditating. And he's keeping himself there, and he's keeping himself sane for all of us here.

ASHER: I mean, you know, being -- being confined to a cell is very difficult for most people, but especially if you're an extrovert,

especially if you love hanging out with your friends and you love going out and you love people and you have a gregarious personality, as all of Evan's

friends says that he does, where do you think he's drawing his strength from at a time like this?

BERKE: I think he's drawing his strength from his parents and his sister. They correspond almost once a week, once every two weeks. And they're some

of the strongest people I've ever met. I mean, we as friends can certainly advocate for Evan, but they are the ones who are talking to him, who are

keeping him or doing their best to keep him safe and keep him informed from the world here at home.

And so, I think he's really drawing a strength from his family and also the knowledge that, you know, his cause is one for journalism more generally,

that, you know, not that he wants to be in a prison cell, but that people are taking up the mantle for press freedom for him. And I think that is a

source of strength for him.

He's also reading. He's learning. He's watching Russian television and he's still practicing the Russian language. Like these are things that he went

over to Russia as a reporter to do. And I think those are the things that keep him keep his spirits up while he's in there.

ASHER: I was reading an article that Evan would sometimes, you know, joke with his friends about the possibility of him being detained one day. I

mean, it was just a joke, as I understand it. And normally when you joke about the worst possible thing happening, normally it never actually

happens, right?


You joke about it. You say it in jest to your friends. It never, ever comes true. This is one of those rare situations where you joke about something

and it actually happens. It actually happens. Can you just sum up where you were when you first read that one of your closest friends, one of your

favorite people had been detained in Russia just as he was joking was a possibility?

BERKE: Yeah. So, it makes me a little emotional talking about it. Look, Evan was not naive to the risks of his reporting in Russia. He informed us

of those risks. All that being said, I don't think he ever thought it would rise to this level. And we certainly never thought it did. One year ago,

you know, I'm a late riser.

And so, I was in bed around eight o'clock in the morning. I got a push alert on my phone. I believe it was from "The New York Times" that said a

reporter had been detained in Russia. Obviously, you know, your brain goes to the worst place ever. And I had just seen Evan two months before that.

And we were talking, you know, over Twitter D.M. about a week before so it seemed quite unreal.

I rushed over. I turned on the news and, you know, this image is seared into my mind. There's Evan. He's wearing a yellow hood. There's a gloved

hand on the back of his head, kind of like this. He's getting shuffled into a police car. You know, I thought I was still dreaming. And then all of a

sudden, you know, everyone who knows me that knows that Evan and I are very close.

And so, my phone started blowing up. They said, is this really Evan? What's going on? Can you tell me what's going on? What's happening? And so, you

know, that was a very chaotic morning, a very chaotic day. And, you know, it's not about me. And I don't say this lightly, but, you know, my life has

been different ever since. You know, I think about him every single day.

ASHER: I'm sure you do.

BERKE: And, you know, when I go to sleep at night, that image is in my mind.

ASHER: I'm sure he's -- and his family, I'm sure his family and him are both very grateful for how much you've been advocating on his behalf.

Jeremy Berke, live for us. Thank you so much. All right, that does it for this hour of ONE WORLD. I'm Zain Asher. Thank you so much for watching.