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Hala Gorani Tonight
Sentencing Surge of Uyghurs in Xinjiang; Taiwan PM: We Need to Prepare for Conflict with China; More Cubans Making Risky Journey to U.S.; Investigating Death of John McAfee; Buckingham Palace Admits Lack of Diversity. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 24, 2021 - 14:00 ET
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HALA GORANI, HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello everyone, welcome, live from CNN London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Russia and the U.K. exchange a war of
words over tense incident in the Black Sea. Also this hour, I just want my life back. A plea from Britney Spears. She's sharing shocking details of
her life under what she calls an abusive conservatorship. And distraught relatives of Uyghur Muslims speak out over a frightening surge in
imprisonment in Xinjiang. And dozens still unaccounted for after this Florida apartment block collapsed. We're live at the scene this hour.
We start with Russia accusing a British warship of carrying out a dangerous provocation after it sailed through disputed waters near Crimea. The "BBC"
released footage of the incident from Wednesday showing Russian war planes and Naval vessels tailing the ship. Russia says it fired warning shots to
keep it away, and one official warned that if this happens again, it could bomb its targets directly. The U.K. for its part is downplaying the
incident and defying and denying Russia ever fired warning shots at all.
It says it doesn't recognize the area as Russian territory anyway, and that its ships are prepared to pass through it again. It considers that these
are Ukrainian territorial waters. Let's get more from our correspondents, Matthew Chance is in Moscow, Nic Robertson joins me here from London with
more on exactly what happened in the Black Sea, Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, what the British are saying is that they were going from Odesa in Ukraine to Georgia, and
the shortest way to do that was to pass along an internationally recognized shipping navigation route which took them close to Crimea. They see this as
Ukraine's waters. They don't think that they were doing anything wrong. The ministry of -- the Secretary of State for Defense here said that the whole
journey took about 36 minutes and 10 minutes into that journey into the contested area, the Russian Coast Guard, he said, contacted the ship saying
that there was a live fire exercise in the region in the area, the British decided that there was no threat to them.
That the shots that were being fired were some ways in the distance. They did say that they were buzzed by a low-flying Russian fighter jets, but it
all passed off without incident and they carried on safely. The British, the point that they're making and the point that they made with this
journey is that they believe and they've said it that they can continue to use this route as they see fit. And this seems to be something that from
the British Prime Minister down to the foreign secretary who called Russia's accounting of this, you know, typically inaccurate, and
essentially the U.K. is downplaying the whole situation. It is clear there's posturing going on. But --
GORANI: Yes --
ROBERTSON: The U.K. side is choosing to downplay this.
GORANI: All right, interesting. And Matthew, Moscow is saying it won't hesitate to essentially bomb its target next time. I mean, that sounds like
a pretty serious threat or is it just a war of words?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's just a warning, obviously. It's the Russian deputy foreign minister saying
that because there was -- they were saying -- the moment you said they bombed the path of the ship and next time, he was taking the point that
they could actually bomb the target itself if there is a next time. And, of course, according to the British, there may well be. There's also been sort
of more diplomatically-worded protests. The British ambassador to Moscow has been invited into the foreign ministry where she's been given a
The Kremlin has spoken on the issue saying that all options are on the table when it comes to defending Russia's borders. You know, it boils down
to that fundamental dispute about the territorial waters around the Crimean peninsula. The British, the rest of the -- much of the international
community, NATO, Europe, they all regard those waters as being part of Ukraine's sovereignty. But of course, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula
in 2014 from Ukraine, and it then subsequently absorbed the territory into the Russian federation. And so as far as Moscow is concerned, this is
Russian territory waters, and this ship invaded Russian waters.
And so, there's not going to be any sort of resolution to that dispute no matter how many times the British decide or any other sort of warship
decides it wants to pass through that region. The Russians are not going to back down.
I think that's what's fundamentally clear. But even a week after the Putin- Biden Summit in which President Biden of the United States delivered a strong message to President Putin of Russia that you know, wants a stable
relationship, yes, but he also wants maligned activity by Russia in the world to stop. This has happened. Of course, one of the maligned activities
that Russia has been sanctioned for by the United States and by the European Union is that annexation of Crimea. And I think the message this
sends is that, you know, Russia is not prepared to back down in any way on that issue --
GORANI: Yes --
CHANCE: At all. Hala.
GORANI: All right, and as we show our viewers there, a map of that part of the Black Sea where it happened. Thank you very much. And Crimea itself
highlighted there annexed by Russia as you just said, Matthew in 2014. Thanks to both of you. Nic Robertson and Matthew Chance. And now we're
going to talk about something that we don't usually talk about. And that is a pop star and an entertainment story. But it goes so much deeper than
that. When Britney Spears skyrocketed to stardom as a teen, the Me Too movement was two decades away. When she had a public breakdown, the world
wasn't prioritizing mental health awareness.
Society has thankfully evolved since the late '90s, but in that time, Britney Spears says she's suffered under her father's abusive, quote-
unquote, "conservatorship". The trauma and total lack of control that Spears described to a California court Wednesday make this story, as I just
said, much more about legal security than celebrity. More about mental well-being than entertainment. Stephanie Elam has more.
BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: Hit me baby one more time --
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Britney Spears is angry. She wants her life back and she wants the world to know it. Speaking
remotely to a Los Angeles County courtroom, the pop singer saying her wish and dream is for the "conservatorship" to end. A legal arrangement she's
been living with for nearly 13 years. In this status hearing, Spears expressing frustration over the lack of control of her own life, saying,
quote, "I'm traumatized. I'm not happy. I can't sleep. I'm so angry, it's insane." Even adding she wants to marry and have another child, both major
life moments she says the current conservatorship doesn't allow.
Her father's only response to the artist's stinging criticisms was that he loves and misses her. The trouble for Britney Spears began in 2007. Her
girl next door image unraveling in front of the paparazzi who were always chasing her, capturing her every move, especially the uncomfortable moments
in the singer's personal life. The following year, multiple health and psychiatric issues landed Spears in the hospital in January. Her father
Jamie Spears filed a petition with the Los Angeles County superior court that February to place her under a temporary probate conservatorship.
Jamie Spears and an attorney Andrew Wallet becoming permanent co- conservators of Britney's estimated $60 million estate in October 2008. Her father getting control of her medical care, something Spears spoke
emotionally about saying, quote, "I want to be able to get married and have a baby. I was told I can't get married. I have an IUD inside me, but this
so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to remove it because they don't want me to have any more children. This conservatorship is doing me
way more harm than good."
LISA MACCARLEY, CONSERVATORSHIP ATTORNEY: Usually, most conservatorships in Probate court are for the elderly. People that have exhibited memory
deficits or judgment deficits that are pervasive and most likely going to endure for the rest of their lives.
ELAM: But through all this, Britney Spears kept working while under this conservatorship, releasing several albums, two that went platinum.
SPEARS: What's up, Vegas?!
ELAM: Holding down her pieces of me Las Vegas residency, reportedly earning her $30 million, and serving as a judge on the "X Factor". Attorney
Andrew Wallet resigned in Spring of 2019 leaving Spears' father in control of just about every aspect of Britney's life. But last Summer, Britney
pushed back. In legal documents, her court-appointed lawyer stating Britney is, quote, "strongly opposed to having her father as conservator and
requested that Jamie be removed." Instead, a judge in November added Bessemer Trust; a private wealth and investment management firm as a co-
conservator to oversee her estate.
Now Spears wants to pick her own lawyer, and as she said in court, quote, "I just want my life back."
(on camera): As this was just a status hearing, up next will be a new court date that will be set where Britney Spears will likely petition the
court to end the conservatorship. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.
GORANI: So that kind of recaps the story for you. A small vocal group has been saying something was wrong with Britney for a long time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Free Britney!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?
CROWD: Free Britney!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The free Britney movement started online with fans combing Spears' social media for clues that all was not well. And as you can see, some came
onto the streets outside the court. Celebrities are joining in including Justin Timberlake, her high-profile ex-boyfriend. He said no woman should
ever be restricted from making decisions about her own body. That free Britney movement featured heavily in "The New York Times" documentary
framing Britney Spears.
The paper's senior editor behind that documentary, Liz Day, joins me now. Thanks for joining us, Liz. First of all, your reaction to Britney Spears'
appeal in court that lasted 23 minutes. And it came from the heart and you could tell she was really suffering and has been suffering.
LIZ DAY, SENIOR STORY EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It was absolutely shocking. You know, Britney has been quiet publicly, never really speaking
about the conservatorship and yesterday she unloaded in court. You know, there were so many bombshell lines. She said, "I just want my life back. I
shouldn't be in a conservatorship if I can work and provide money and work for myself, it makes no sense. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody
does." I think, you know, everyone in the courtroom and listening remotely was just shocked.
GORANI: Yes, here's a clip from your documentary, a friend of hers was asked about this conservatorship and she expressed some of the same
feelings. Said she didn't understand why Britney Spears would be bound by this framework if she can, you know, look after herself and perform in
sellout stadiums. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FELICIA CULOTTA, FRIEND & FORMER ASSISTANT OF BRITNEY SPEARS: To be honest, I didn't then nor do I now understand what a conservatorship is.
Especially for somebody Britney's age and somebody capable of so much that I know firsthand she's capable of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So why has it been going on for so long, this conservatorship?
DAY: So we don't really know. Most, if not -- or many if not most of the court record has been sealed for almost the entire 13-year long
conservatorship. It was only last year that Britney's court-appointed counsel started publicly filing motions that indicated that they were ready
to fight, specifically, to try to remove Britney's father Jamie from controlling Britney's fortune.
GORANI: I guess the reason we're covering this in a news show, and my show is usually very much about hard news off the top, is because we're looking
at it through a different lens now, aren't we? We're looking at the Britney Spears story through a Me Too lens, through a mental health awareness lens
as well. And I wonder how -- what is your assessment of how things have changed because your documentary made huge waves when it came out a few
months ago. People are starting to talk very differently about young female celebrities and what they're subjected to in their careers.
DAY: Absolutely. There's been a real sea change in how society and the media, you know, talk about these issues and treat celebrities as human
beings. And, you know, in the documentary, we include clips from just as recently as, you know, 2004 or 2008. But when you go back and watch these
television host, you know, grilling Britney on, you know, whether she's a virgin or you know, really --
GORANI: Well --
DAY: Inappropriate questions to ask a young woman, it's just fascinating that it was not that long ago that, that was pretty common.
GORANI: And I remember thinking to myself, wow, I probably watched some of these interviews and it didn't occur to me then, even as a woman in her 30s
at the time, that this was wrong. So it's a sign that society is evolving. Back to Britney Spears herself. What happens now? Because she wants out of
this structure. She wants to be free.
DAY: Yes --
GORANI: Will she be?
DAY: So, she made very clear in yesterday's hearing that, you know, she wants to end this conservatorship immediately. But she also said that she
did not know that she could file to end the conservatorship, which is just jaw-dropping that she did not know this. You know, how could that be? Did
her court-appointed counsel not tell her? It just raises so many questions. So, we don't really know what's going to happen next, but we do know after
Britney spoke, the court talked about sealing future proceedings. So it may not be open to the public.
GORANI: All that being said, I mean, Britney herself acknowledges she may need help and needing help because you might have mental health issues is
nothing to be ashamed of. I think what she's fighting is this very narrow, restrictive structure. Some of the things she posted on her social media
account, for instance, raise eyebrows. Sometimes I mean, you know, she doesn't always seem like she's doing OK. I just want to run one little clip
from her Instagram.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPEARS: Am I OK? Yes. I'm totally fine. I'm extremely happy. I have a beautiful home. Beautiful children. I am taking a break right now because
I'm enjoying myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: She herself has said I've pretended that I'm OK when I'm not.
DAY: Yes, so that was a really shocking moment in yesterday's hearing where Britney herself said, I've been lying. You know, I publicly said that
everything is OK and I'm happy, but I'm not. But that she was afraid --
GORANI: Yes --
DAY: To speak publicly about how she felt because she feared she wouldn't be believed. So that was just a really, you know, difficult thing to hear.
GORANI: All right. Well, Liz Day, thanks very much, of "The New York Times" for joining us, and thanks for talking about this story that, you
know, from so many angles, it's quite important. And it's important also, I think for young girls. Young girls to read about this and just be aware of,
you know, what is inappropriate sometimes when it comes to interviews and how females, women are described and what questions they're asked. Thank
you very much, Liz Day.
And still to come tonight, the U.K. is expected to loosen travel restrictions. What we know about which countries the British government
will add to its green list. And a disaster outside Miami. Rescuers are scrambling to find people in the wreckage of a collapsed building in south
Florida. We'll have more details live from the scene next.
GORANI: A stern warning today from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She told German lawmakers that the EU is quote, "on thin ice" with the
spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19. Merkel was in Brussels today pushing other European nations to enforce quarantines for
people traveling from regions where the variant is active, including the U.K.
And this news may be part of why Merkel is sounding the alarm. England is reporting 41 cases of the Delta-plus variant. That is the mutation of the
Delta variant that experts say is even more contagious. The last thing we needed. The government has imposed new COVID-19 measures in areas where the
Delta-plus variant has been detected. But the U.K. is also poised to add more countries to its "green list", quote-unquote, as Summer travel picks
up. Cyril Vanier joins me now from London with more. So what countries will be added, Cyril?
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, what we know is the countries Northern Ireland has added to its green list. Now, we don't yet have the
new green list that will be valid for England residents, but we suspect, and I think it's fair to assume, it could mirror pretty closely what
Northern Ireland is doing. And it released its list just a short while ago. It added, as was expected, several Caribbean islands. It added Malta and it
added the Balearic Islands which is interesting because that includes Ibiza which is a tourism hot spot for British travelers.
So, it's not a huge expansion of the green list, Hala. It may be that for England travelers, the list will soon mirror what Northern Ireland has just
done. And there's another development. Again, we don't know yet for sure. We are waiting for the confirmation, but the British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson hinted this morning that rules could change for travelers who are fully vaccinated. In other words, I don't remember, Hala, whether you're
fully vaccinated, but I am. In that case, it is possible, according to those hints we got this morning that we could be able to travel quarantine-
free to amber list countries.
So think France, think Spain, think Germany, Greece, Italy. But, of course, it takes two to tango. And if you can go to those countries, do they want
U.K. travelers on their soil? Well, that's not so sure anymore because of the Delta variant. A number of EU countries --
GORANI: Yes --
VANIER: Are starting to impose strict quarantines on U.K. travelers, that includes Germany, that's already the case in Germany, it's already the case
in Italy, other countries may follow suit, Hala.
GORANI: Well, with our -- with our luck, they'll drop the quarantine requirement in the U.K. and add it in France.
Either way, I don't know, it's going to be a bumpy --
VANIER: That could very well happen.
GORANI: It's going to be a bumpy Summer. Thank you very much Cyril Vanier. All right, now, to this disaster outside Miami. Frantic search and rescue
efforts are under way following the partial collapse of a residential building in south Florida. Take a look at the surveillance video of the
moment the tower came down. At least 51 people still unaccounted for, one person is confirmed dead and 10 are injured. Leyla Santiago joins me live
now from Surfside where this building is located. What's the latest, Leyla?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, we actually just spoke to the Florida state fire marshal who told us that he has two teams, about 60
people, and they are hearing noise, sounds from the rubble, from -- and also from one possible individual near the collapsed garage. So, that's a
big update in terms of what they are dealing with out there, is that search and rescue is under way right now. I can tell you that the county
commissioner told us that they have at least 51 individuals unaccounted for. That comes from reports that the county -- that came into a hotline
that the county established.
And so, those are, right now what we know in terms of the reports that have come in, but we've also heard from the consulates of Venezuela who says
they have four citizens also missing, and the consulate of Argentina who tells us they, too, have nine citizens that are missing right now. So,
you know, there's a large effort to try to get to those who are unaccounted for. I can tell you that 35 were rescued and one person has died as a
result of this collapse. So what do we know about this building? This is a 12-story building. Had 130 units of those, 50 of them collapsed.
So, that really paints the picture of how massive this collapse was. Nearly half of the building went down in this 12-story building. It was built in
the '80s. The mayor tells me that there was some sort of work being done on the roof, and according to the county commissioner, there was also
inspection for the 40-year standard that is typical for buildings that were built, like this one, in the '80s. So, we're learning more about the
building, trying to get to the bottom of exactly what caused this. The investigation is something that's not going to take hours or days. We
expect that will take quite lengthy time. The governor did tour the area, and he said he is hopeful, but he is also bracing for some bad news given
the devastation left behind. Hala?
GORANI: Right, these images are absolutely shocking. I mean, you have a side of the building that just looks like it just came down with just giant
blocks pan-caked vertically almost, it seems. And I guess, the question is, do we know how many people were inside that part of the building when it
SANTIAGO: Well, we know that there were 55 units. We don't know how many people were inside. But take the time of day into account. This happened
overnight when many people could have been in there just sleeping overnight. When I arrived early this morning, and it was still very much
dark, it was around 3:00 a.m., you could see firefighters trying to check on every single apartment, clearing what is left of the building that is
still standing. You could also see flashlights, efforts to make sure that they got everyone out to safety that they could.
That part of the building has been cleared, and so now, the search continues for those who may be under the rubble that they can reach and
save in time. But, still, a lot of unanswered questions in terms of exactly how many people were in the buildings? What is the potential in terms of
those who are missing? And how long they will search before this becomes recovery mission?
GORANI: All right, well, we know from earthquakes and other disasters that people can survive quite a long time under rubble, so fingers crossed, they
get to survivors --
SANTIAGO: Absolutely --
GORANI: If there are any. Thank you very much Leyla Santiago. Hungary's prime minister is responding to sharp criticism from European leaders about
his country's new anti-gay law. At an EU Summit in Brussels, the Dutch prime minister said Hungary should no longer be part of the European Union.
And the EC president, the European Commission president has described the bill as, quote, "shameful". But Prime Minister Viktor Orban says those who
oppose the law just haven't read it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIKTOR ORBAN, PRIME MINISTER, HUNGARY: I am a fighter for their rights. You know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In what way?
ORBAN: I'm a freedom fighter in the communist regime. Homosexuality was punished and I fought for their freedom and their rights. So I am defending
the rights of the homosexual guys. But this law is not about that, it's about the rights of the kids and the parents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: He says he's defending the rights of gay people. Well, the controversial new law prohibits sharing content in schools that is
considered to promote homosexuality, at least by those who support the law. Still to come, minority Muslims in China say their relatives are being
jailed for crimes they did not commit, and it is ripping families apart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, just newly married. You're getting ready to start your life together, and then it just gets completely thrown upside
down, and then the next thing you know, your husband is in a detention center.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Some heartbreaking stories from Uyghur families just ahead. Also Taiwan's foreign minister says the island must be ready for possible
conflict with China. That's part of an exclusive interview with CNN. That's also coming up. Stay with us.
GORANI: Now we speak about what's going on with the Uyghurs in China and I'm just trying to put myself in the position of someone whose loved one
was ripped away from me and who's in an internment camp somewhere and I have absolutely no news.
The agony for these people.
China's mass internment of ethnic Uyghurs and another minorities in Xinjiang has spread a curtain of fear over families terrified about loved
ones held in those camps. A recent spike in lengthy jail sentences for some of those detained is prompting some distraught relatives to speak out for
the first time.
A young Australian woman shared her story with Ivan Watson.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Newlyweds in love, scenes from the 2016 wedding of Mehray Mezensof and Mirzat Taher. She calls
him pumpkin. He calls her his monkey.
MEHRAY MEZENSOF, WIFE OF DETAINED UYGHUR: It's pretty much like love at first sight.
WATSON (voice-over): The couple met online. Mehray was born in Australia and Mirzat is an ethnic from China's Xinjiang region where he worked in his
After their wedding in Xinjiang, the newlyweds enjoyed eight blissful months together until Australia granted Mirzat a spouse visa. Mirzat plans
to immigrate with Mehray to Australia in April 2017.
But two days before their flight from Xinjiang, Chinese police showed up at their house.
MEZENSOF: He gave them their passport and they confiscated it right then and there.
WATSON (voice-over): That night the police detained Mirzat.
MEZENSOF: You know, you just merely married and getting ready to start your life together and then it just gets completely thrown upside down and
then the next thing you know, your husband is in a detention center and you can't see him. You can't even communicate with him.
WATSON: Mehray says that marked the start of a four-year ordeal. She says Mirzat was detained in interment camps for months at a time on three
separate occasions while never facing any formal charges. That is until April 1st, 2021 when Mirzat's parents were summoned to a detention center
and informed their son have been found guilty of the crime of separatism.
MEZENSOF: That was when I received the news that sentenced my husband to 25 years.
WATSON: Twenty-five years in prison.
MEZENSOF: I was like no, no, that's not happening. I was like that can't happen. They can't do that.
WATSON: Mehray believes her husband is imprisoned here in a fortified facility that has grown substantially over the last eight years. One of
dozens of high security camps that have been expanded in Xinjiang, according to analysis by the Australian think tank, ASPI.
Chinese government statistics first compiled by Human Rights Watch also show that the number of people sentenced to prison in Xinjiang spiked
dramatically, jumping approximately six times between 2014 and 2018.
WATSON: Some experts believe they are transitioning the mass detention of Muslim minorities from internment camps to formal prisons. A policy more
and more people claim is ripping their families apart.
Nyrola Elima, a Uyghur from Xinjiang now living in Sweden, has spent the last three years lobbying for the release of her cousin, Mayila Yakufu, a
Mandarin language teacher and mother of three first detained in 2018 accused of financing terrorism.
Then in February, Nyrola got this video call from her mother in Xinjiang with a devastating update on her cousin.
NYROLA ELIMA, COUSIN OF DETAINED UYGHUR: They sentenced her six years and six months.
WATSON: How is your family handling this conviction?
ELIMA: I think they're dead inside.
WATSON (voice-over): The family shared this letter from Mayila, written in detention, in which she claims she was forced to sign a confession. I don't
have the strength to resist such power, she writes.
The Chinese government has gone from initially denying the mass detention policy to now defending the crackdown, arguing it's battling against
This state TV documentary released in April claims there is a fifth column of government officials who secretly plotted to turn Xinjiang into an
independent homeland for Uyghurs. It accuses this man, Ablimit Ababakri and his brother of paying to send Uyghur teenagers overseas or some allegedly
then join the Islamic State.
How did you react when you saw your father?
DILSAR ABLIMIT, DAUGHTER OF DETAINED UYGHUR: I couldn't even recognize him. I was refused to believe that was my father.
WATSON: The accused man's daughter, Dilsar Ablimit, is a 21-year-old university student studying abroad in Turkey. She says her father went
missing four years ago in Xinjiang until he suddenly appeared in this Chinese documentary.
ABLIMIT: My father and uncle are neither a terrorist or a separatist.
WATSON: The documentary didn't say if the brothers had been charged with a crime.
CNN has asked the Chinese government about their status and that of the others in our report and pushed for answers on why so many Uyghurs are
being thrown in jail.
In Australia, Mehray Mezensof clings to a letter from her husband which was smuggled out of detention three years ago. She's also clinging to hope
after learning her husband will spend the next 25 years behind bars.
MEZENSOF: I have to fight for him. I have to be strong for him. I have to do something. I can't just keep sitting and, you know, being silent about
WATSON: Do you think you'll see your husband again?
MEZENSOF: I really hope so. I can't imagine not seeing him again.
WATSON: Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: Well, important for us to let you know we reached out to the Chinese government for comment on this story. And, as usual, they did not
respond to our request.
Speaking of China, Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy newspaper has published its final edition after facing mounting government pressure.
Dozens of readers lined up in the rain to purchase the last copies of "Apple Daily." The newspaper was forced to close after authorities froze
their assets and arrested some of their journalists under a controversial security law.
The American president Joe Biden called it a sad day and issued a statement just a short while ago, a sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around
And Taiwan must prepare for possible conflict with China. That comes directly from Taiwan's foreign minister, who spoke exclusively to CNN. Will
Ripley brings us details from Taipei.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I sat down with Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu, for nearly an hour. And we covered a wide range of topics,
including recent military intimidation from mainland China.
But he says the bigger threat could be from increasing cyber activity, disinformation, social media campaigns and even cyberattacks that could try
to disrupt the Taiwanese government and infrastructure.
JOSEPH WU, TAIWANESE FOREIGN MINISTER: Taiwan has some very good capability in dealing with cyber attacks. That is because of our long
experience dealing with the cyber activities initiated by the Chinese side toward Taiwan.
They use cyber warfare. They use cognitive warfare, disinformation campaign and the military intimidation to create a lot of anxiety among the
RIPLEY: Why is Beijing doing this now?
Why are they stepping things up now?
WU: They might have a territorial ambition over Taiwan for sure because they have been talking about that. But I think they are also trying to
expand their sphere of influence over the East China Sea, the South China Sea or beyond the first island chain into the wide Pacific.
So this is not just Taiwan's problem. We certainly hope that the international community will continue to look at the peace and stability in
this region with attention and continue to support Taiwan.
RIPLEY: How much do the actions of the United States and Western democracies lead to those measures, that intimidation by China?
WU: If you look at the Chinese long-planned military actions in Taiwan, it had started before the G7 meeting, it had started before the senators
arriving in Taiwan by C-17. But sometimes the Chinese will like to use excuses.
RIPLEY: Do you believe that China has the intent of unification by force or preventing separation by force?
WU: I think the Chinese are trying to unify Taiwan through peaceful means, if possible but they want to use force, if necessary. So we need to prepare
ourselves for a possible conflict.
RIPLEY: What is the likelihood in your view of an all-out military confrontation between Beijing and Taipei?
WU: We hope it doesn't happen. A war between Taiwan and China is in nobody's interest. The important thing is Taiwan is a democracy.
And Taiwan is a high symbol of democracy at a time when China is trying to expand its authoritarian influence. Taiwan is on the front line.
RIPLEY: You have also been a target of the mainland government. They have accused you of being a separatist and threaten to take whatever legal
actions they can if they get their hands on you.
What is that like, to be a target of the mainland government?
WU: I will continue to say what is right and I will continue to advocate what is good for the people here in Taiwan. What I say is only the truth.
They cannot tolerate truth.
If they continue to say that they want to pursue me for the rest of my life, I'm not really concerned about that. So for that I think it's an
honor to be targeted by the Chinese government.
RIPLEY: Joseph Wu was labeled a diehard separatist by Beijing after remarks he made at a press conference, where he said Taiwan would fight to
the very last day if it came under attack from China, an attack that some analysts fear could be coming closer as tensions continue to escalate
between Taiwan and the mainland -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.
GORANI: Still to come, an investigation underway after John McAfee was found dead in his prison cell in Spain. We have a live report.
Then, hit by the twin impact impacts of COVID-19 and an increase in American sanctions, Cubans are risking everything for a chance at a better
life. We have a report. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Cuba is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. It set another daily record on Wednesday with more than 2,000 new infections.
The pandemic is just one of the reasons people are desperately trying to flee the island these days, despite a very dangerous journey. CNN's Patrick
Oppmann joins me from Havana with an exclusive report -- Patrick.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, ever since the U.S. ended a law that allowed any Cubans to reach the United States to stay there, we've
seen the number of Cuban migrants leaving by boat steadily dropping over the last four years.
But now as Cuba is battered by the pandemic, months of lockdown, no tourism and increased U.S. sanctions, more and more Cubans are taking to the sea.
OPPMANN (voice-over): The U.S. Coast Guard cutter enters Cuban waters, carrying migrants, stopped at sea while trying to reach the United States.
Under an agreement between the two countries, the Cubans are sent back to the island after being picked up by the U.S., leaving the island usually on
barely see where the rafts or smuggled out in speedboats by human traffickers.
While in recent years the number of Cubans making the illegal journey by boat had dwindled. Now as the Communist run island is hit by the twin
impacts of the pandemic and increased U.S. economic sanctions hundreds of Cubans are again attempting the treacherous sea crossing.
Cuban officials who gave CNN rare access to a migrant repatriation say they are concerned by the spike in activity. "They put people's lives at risk.
They have too many people on board," he says. "They knew people trafficking with speedboats and they also overload those boats to make more money."
It can take days to make the 90-mile journey across the Florida Straits. And only seconds for a trip to turn deadly. Neither the U.S. nor Cuba can
say how many people have died in 2021 attempting the crossing.
Juliette Cortes (ph) says her brother, Pedro Angel, was one of at least five people lost at sea after the brother capsized leaving the island in
"What we want is to know," she says, "to have some news, however tough it is. But at least know what happened to him."
Despite the risks, many Cubans are increasingly desperate to leave the island. Some sell all their possessions to pay for the trip. This woman who
has returned by the U.S. Coast Guard attempted a hazardous trip, carrying her 8-month-old baby.
After the U.S. embassy in Havana shut down visa services nearly four years ago following mysterious health incidents, more than 100,000 Cubans had
been unable to obtain visas granted to them to visit or emigrate to the U.S.
OPPMANN: Cubans have to travel to a third country to apply for visa to enter the United States legally. It's a costly and lengthy process. But
during the pandemic, it's been next to impossible to do. Many people say they can no longer afford to wait, even if it means breaking the law or
risking their lives at sea.
OPPMANN (voice-over): While the numbers of Cubans leaving by boat are far less than during the rafters crisis of the 1990s and Mariel boatlift of the
1980s, Cuban officials say they want to engage with Washington before the flow of migrants increases.
CARLOS FERNANDEZ DE COSSIO, CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTRY: The trend is there. And as difficulties that Cuba have today, have not faced for over a decade.
So the recipe and the conditions are there for an uncontrolled migration through the ocean, something that we want to avoid.
OPPMANN (voice-over): So far, Biden advisers have said Cuba is not a priority for the administration. But as the pandemic and Trump-era
sanctions continue to cause havoc here, an increasing number of Cubans, with nothing left to lose, could create a crisis that becomes impossible to
OPPMANN: And, Hala, as is so often the case, U.S. and Cuban officials say there are people trying to take advantage of this tragic situation.
There are human smugglers charging Cubans $10,000 per person to go into these packed boats, fast boats, that are often very dangerous, can capsize,
sometimes have 20 people or more in them.
Usually it's the families in the United States that pay for this dangerous journey and, you know, where you find desperation, you find people trying
to make profit off it. Cubans so desperate to leave that they'll literally sell everything they have to pay human smugglers to take them away.
GORANI: Thank you very much, powerful reporting, Patrick Oppmann live in Havana.
Spanish investigators are looking into the death of software pioneer John McAfee. He was found dead in his prison cell near Barcelona Wednesday,
following a court decision to extradite him to the United States. McAfee was being held on charges of tax evasion.
GORANI: The statement from the regional justice department says everything indicates that he took his own life. Al Goodman joins me from Madrid with
more on what we know about this case and what Spanish authorities are saying.
AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. McAfee's body was found in his prison cell on Wednesday evening local time, Barcelona. That was about 24
hours after the court here in Madrid started notifying the lawyers for both sides in the extradition that the judges had ruled that he could be
extradited to the United States.
Medical workers at the prison rushed in, tried to save him, tried to revive him. They could not. He had a cellmate but the cellmate was not there when
his body was found, a prison official told CNN.
That official adding that the official was not aware that there were any special monitoring measures on McAfee. He was arrested last October at the
airport in Barcelona. The extradition hearing was earlier this month.
The United States attorneys argued that McAfee had made millions of dollars in recent years and not paid enough taxes by promoting cyber currencies --
cryptocurrencies -- through consulting work and also by selling his life story to be made in a documentary.
McAfee appeared remotely at the hearing from video, from the prison in Barcelona area, to the judges, arguing the charges were politically
motivated. But the judges did rule that he could be extradited to face tax evasion charges for the years 2016-18 and they ruled they could be
appealed. But of course that never happened. The last couple of decades of McAfee's life have had some incredible events.
In 2012, in the small Central American country of Belize, he fled after his neighbor turned up dead. He lived for a time in Guatemala. He lived in
Canada. And in 2016, he ran for President of the United States as a libertarian, promising a new product to this antivirus software market that
he said would be a game changer.
After all is said and done, Hala, the software company, the antivirus software company that he founded back in 1987 at his home in California, a
classic Silicon Valley story, that company is still one of the most widely used antivirus software programs in the world -- Hala.
GORANI: Al Goodman, thanks for the update.
Still to come this evening, Buckingham Palace pledges to improve its workplace diversity. We'll explain after the break.
GORANI: Buckingham Palace has admitted that it needs to do more to increase diversity among its staff. In an annual financial report, the
palace revealed that only about 8 percent of its employees are from ethnic minorities, a number that does not reflect the diversity of the nation.
CNN's Max Foster reports.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: The British monarchy is often described as a white institution. And Buckingham Palace accepts now that it
does need to do more to address diversity among the staff working here. For the first time in their annual financial report, they've broken down the
numbers in relation to diversity.
So 8.5 percent of Buckingham Palace staff royal household staff considered themselves diverse. The palace has a target of bringing that up to 10
percent by the end of next year.
A senior royal source says, "The results are not what we would like but we are committed to improving this; hence, we've started to publish for the
first time our diversity statistics to ensure they we are both open and transparent about our efforts to improve and fully expect to be held
accountable for the progress that we make."
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, famously made allegations of racism within the royal family. But this report isn't about the family
itself; rather, the staff that work for them -- Max Foster, CNN, Buckingham Palace, London.
GORANI: And finally this hour, Tokyo is welcoming not one but two new additions to one of its zoos. The giant panda Shin-Shin has given birth to
twin cubs. That's quite rare. It's her first birth in four years.
The cubs are tiny. That's how they come into the world, pandas, roughly the size of a human hand. No word yet on the cubs' gender or name. There they
are, small and slimy. Shin-Shin and her male partner, Ri-Ri, are already parents to a female panda born in 2017. The cutest animals on the planet.
Pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, which makes this development all the more special. So good news to finish this hour.
Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. Max Foster is coming your way with "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."