Return to Transcripts main page
Hala Gorani Tonight
Borders Opening in Europe As Asia Locks Down Again; Fires Rekindle in Athens Forcing Evacuations; Mexico Sues U.S.-Based Gun-Makers; World Awaits Next Move by Iran's New Hardline President; U.S. Intervenes in Court Case against Former Saudi Spymaster. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 05, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Freedom for some, but lockdown misery for others. Asia
fights to curb cases while some borders begin reopening in Europe. We have the full picture for you. Then evacuations in Athens as a devastating
wildfire rekindles sending residents fleeing from their homes. We have a live report. And later, a reassurance from Mexico that they are not coming
after the Second Amendment in the U.S. Why the country is suing American gun manufacturers. We'll have the story for you.
The world is on pandemic watch once again. But whether you're watching vaccine rates or rising cases, it depends a lot on where you live. In
England for instance, more travelers will be welcome without isolating. People arriving from France, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will not have to
quarantine if they have two vaccines and a negative COVID test. That's good to know if you're watching us from those countries and planning a trip to
The government says it's confident of reopening, thanks to its vaccination program that has covered more than half of Brits. Meanwhile, no one is
coming or going from Australia. Melbourne and the entire state of Victoria have just entered a snap lockdown, 13 million people across multiple major
cities are locked down right now based by the way on a very small number of cases. One factor, only 16 percent of Australians are fully vaccinated, so
perhaps, that is informing the decision to lock down with a relatively small number of positive cases registered.
In China, more people will have access to the Sinovac vaccine, it's approved for children as young as three. Well, that might help contain the
new outbreak, but officials are locking down any way as part of a zero COVID strategy. Chinese officials say cases can be contained if everyone
follows the rules. But David Culver reports from Beijing on how strict those rules have become. David?
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, the case count is climbing here in China as health officials are battling their worst outbreak since Wuhan.
Now, you may look at the number of infected which is in the hundreds since July 20th and compared with other parts of the world may not seem so
serious. But given China has had a zero-tolerance approach to cases and has mostly maintained that in the past year through extreme containment
measures, this latest Delta-linked outbreak is worrisome. Strict measures are making a comeback. Millions are now part of city-wide testing efforts
and affected communities with tens of thousands of people living inside are in lockdown, some sealed inside their homes.
I want to show you this video, it's on Chinese social media that shows one extreme case. Folks living in a locked down building in central China
shouting for help from their windows. They're asking for supplies and COVID tests. An official from that area later denied that the residents were left
alone, adding that volunteers have been working to provide them supplies and tests. For the most part, communities in lockdown including right here
in Beijing, have adapted rather efficiently in providing residents with necessities. And what we are not likely to see is a return of the major
scale city-wide lockdown that Wuhan experienced last year in which the entire population of more than 11 million was sealed off for 76 days.
Those measures, even if effective in stopping the spread, prove crushing economically, not to mention mental health impact. Here in Beijing, the
city that will host the Winter Olympics in less than six months, there are likewise confirmed cases and communities locked down. Officials have also
announced anyone who has traveled here from high or medium-risk areas, they're going to be subject to mandatory centralized or home quarantine.
China's current number of elevated risk areas is at its highest number since April 2020. That was shortly after the Wuhan outbreak. Hala?
GORANI: All right, thanks very much David Culver. There's a lot going on with COVID-19 worldwide, especially that Delta variant we keep hearing
about, and that has changed so many of our plans. Joining me now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, she's also the author of "Lifelines: A
Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health". Dr. Wen joins me live from Baltimore, Maryland. So, talk to us a little bit, doctor, about this
Delta variant and how it is changing the need to mask or not to mask in public places?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, the Delta variant is the most contagious of all the variants that we have seen thus far. We also know
that it is ripping like wildfire through unvaccinated populations. And so certainly, individuals who are unvaccinated, including children who are too
young to be vaccinated, they should really be wearing masks in indoor places. Vaccinated people, if you live at home with a child who is not
vaccinated or someone who is older and immunocompromised, you should also be wearing a mask in indoor places so that you don't contract the Delta
variant and bring it home to your children. I think this is a time where we really have to be on guard because of this contagious new variant.
GORANI: Doctor, you're saying that indoors in people's homes, if they live with unvaccinated children or vulnerable people that vaccinated adults
should be masking in their own homes indoors. Is that -- would --
WEN: No, let me --
GORANI: That be your recommendation?
WEN: No, it would not be, and so thank you for the opportunity to clarify this because I think there has been some confusion about this --
GORANI: Yes --
WEN: Type of messaging. So, the -- so be clear -- and I have two little kids. There's --
GORANI: Yes --
WEN: No way that parents could be vaccinated -- or there's no way that parents could be masking in their own homes. That is not a reasonable
recommendation. Rather that, I'm talking about indoor public places. So if I'm going to the grocery store, if I'm going to church service, if I'm
going on a plane or train, I will make sure that I'm wearing a mask so that I don't contract COVID-19. I'm vaccinated. But there's still a chance of
breakthrough infections, and I don't want to carry COVID-19 home to my family.
GORANI: Sure, got it. What about masking kids? The province of Ontario in Canada, this is a province wide order is saying that this coming school
year, children as young as six would have to mask indoors in their classrooms, except when they're outside on recess or in the cafeteria
eating lunch. Is that necessary, do you think? Is that realistic? And can there be any negative effects from requiring children that young to mask
for so many hours in a row?
WEN: I have a son who is 3, he's turning 4. He masked during the entire summer camp. His school that he's going to for pre-school requires indoor
masking at all times except during mealtimes. And so, my son has adapted, other kids have adapted. It is necessary. It's also very important,
especially in areas of high community transmission. Now, I think that things might change if we're able to increase the vaccination rates in
adults and drive down community transmission. At some point, it may not be necessary for our children to mask.
Right now, I think it's really important to do so because of how contagious this Delta variant is. Our -- children are at higher risk than really at
any point during this pandemic because of this very contagious variant.
GORANI: So, these breakthrough cases, so double-vaccinated people contracting the Delta variant have made huge headlines. And I think people
have become a little bit worried about the effectiveness of vaccines as a result of reading story after story of, you know, double-vaccinated people
contracting the illness and sometimes not in a mild way. I mean, there are instances of double-vaccinated people who get severe forms of the illness.
How effective are these vaccines against the Delta variant?
WEN: Three data points. One, 99 percent of people in the U.S. who are dying right now from COVID-19 are unvaccinated. So put it in a different way,
less than 1 percent of those dying from COVID are those who are vaccinated. So, it definitely protects you very well against severe illness. Second
data point, vaccines protect you 25-fold from getting severely ill to the point that you need to be hospitalized or that you die. Third is that the
vaccines also protect you a little bit less well, but it still protects you eight-fold from contracting COVID-19 in the first place. Are the vaccines
perfect? Of course not, nothing is.
I mean, if you're taking medication for blood pressure or diabetes, you know that --
GORANI: Yes --
WEN: It's not always a 100 percent effective, but that doesn't mean that there is no validity to it. Vaccines are really safe and effective, they're
key to ending this pandemic.
GORANI: So, in highly vaccinated countries like the U.K., we shouldn't be looking at the percentage of people who are double-vaccinated who have
contracted COVID, we should be looking at the percentage of vaccinated people who have not ended up in hospital or not ended up with severe
disease or not died from the disease. That, that really should be a metric for us?
WEN: Absolutely. I do think that that is a critical metric. I also think that countries like the U.K. should also be tracking the total level of
infections because, especially given the number of unvaccinated people, recognizing that those who are unvaccinated still are at high risk.
GORANI: All right, Dr. Wen, thanks so much for joining us, as always. We appreciate it. And as we mentioned with Dr. Wen, despite the pandemic, it
is back-to-school time in many parts of the world. Here you can see some American students arriving for their first day and Europe's students are
soon to follow. In the U.S., the school year starts much earlier, sometimes beginning of August, often times in parts of Europe, it's more like
But COVID-19 is making the first day jitters worse for many parents this year and fueling their fear. Nearly 72,000 children and teens in the U.S.
contracted COVID last week according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They are vulnerable. Nick Valencia is outside one school in Atlanta,
Georgia, that is back in session. So, talk to us a little bit about how this back-to-school week has gone in terms of COVID, in terms of infections
among students and the precautions that the schools are trying to take to mitigate the -- to try to defend the students and the adults working in the
school district against COVID.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Hala, it really is illuminating to see just how divided this is among political lines and the varying
degrees or the different approaches that school districts across the state of Georgia are taking when it comes to, you know, what they think goes into
safely reopening schools. Here in the more democratic area, these counties inside and around the metro area of Atlanta, that means mask mandates. So,
the 50,000 or so estimated students in the Atlantic public school district, they went back to school today for the first time, many of them going back
to being inside a classroom for the first time since the start of the pandemic with masks being required.
They're also doing surveillance testing every week with staff and students getting opportunity to get tests every week here on site at schools. And
they're going to do daily wellness checks as well. And there's also going to be a big push here in the Atlanta public schools for vaccinations,
despite it being more of a liberal area. Just 18 percent of students who are eligible to get the vaccine have gotten the vaccination. Those number
go up significantly to 58 percent when you're talking about the staff. But it is still not enough for the superintendents here to feel safe amid these
growing concerns of the Delta variant.
And despite these rising cases and the surge in COVID case numbers that we've seen over the last week, the U.S. ticking above 100,000 cases now on
day which is a -- you know, per day, which is about a 48 percent increase from the same period last week. We're seeing rural places, more
conservative places in Georgia just totally dismissing CDC recommendations despite being in high transmission areas. Rural school district in Barrow
County, which is between Atlanta and Athens, they're going back to school giving the choice to parents and teachers on whether or not -- and
students, whether or not they want to wear a mask.
You know, I interviewed a parent yesterday of a 14-year-old who says that she was excited that her student -- her child did not have to go back to
school wearing a mask because she wants her child to have the freedom to express themselves. I asked, you know, even with the cases going up and
hospitalizations going up, is there not concern that, that personal expression of freedom comes at the risk of getting yourself sick or someone
else sick? This parent says that she's just not concerned about that and is willing to take the chance. She thinks it's more liberating for her child
to go back to school despite the recommendations of the CDC.
You know, Hala, meanwhile, we're seeing this big push toward vaccinations with just in the last 24 hours, the White House saying there's been 864,000
people vaccinated, that is the highest daily rate in more than a month. Hala?
GORANI: I guess what happens if -- when I should say, there's an outbreak in a school? You know, do you shut down the class? Do you send home the
students? I mean, we've been at this --
VALENCIA: Yes --
GORANI: Now for a year and a half, and you've had kids who have really missed out on essential socializing, on essential in-person schooling. What
is the plan?
VALENCIA: Yes, we're here at a year and a half and it seems in a lot of ways looking at this latest data that we're going backwards in America when
it comes to the fight against COVID. The plan for some schools are online academies which they've established prior to the school year starting in
case any parents felt uncomfortable about sending their kids back in person. We've seen that happen already. Quarantines happening at local
charter schools inside the metro Atlanta area where students are having to quarantine after being exposed or infection rates or infection cases being
reported in some of those schools.
As you mentioned though, Hala, it's not a matter of if, but when this will happen, and that's at the risk that some parents are willing to take, if
only because they feel that the socialization that their kids need at this point far outweighs the risk of getting sick. But that's a chance, though,
it seems that some parents are telling us there's really no good decisions to take at the start of this school year. Hala?
GORANI: It's tricky for parents either way. Thanks very much for that, Nick Valencia.
VALENCIA: Yes --
GORANI: By the way, if you want to travel to the U.S., you better get your jab now if you haven't already. A White House official tells CNN that the
Biden administration is drawing up plans to require in the future almost all foreign visitors to be vaccinated.
That is when visitors are allowed at all because many of you, as you know watching this program know that it is very difficult to travel to America
right now. U.S. travel restrictions including a virtual moratorium on tourism remains in place due to the Delta variant. Americans can travel to
the U.S., spouses, close family members of Americans and American residents can travel, but if you are French, if you're Italian, if you're British,
you know, unless you have a professional reason, you can prove to the U.S. government that you cannot do a job outside of the U.S., that you need to
travel to the country to perform this, whatever this professional task is, they will not let you in.
Now, let's talk about these wildfires on the outskirts of Athens. A fire has rekindled, and it is forcing some neighborhoods to evacuate. The smoke
from the flames has grown so large that it has darkened the sky. Take a look at these images. More than 300 firefighters are out there trying to
contain the flames, but officials say the blazes are out of control, and this is all happening as many more fires rage across Greece and we've been
covering over the last few days of course what's going on in Turkey. Journalist Elinda Labropoulou is in Athens with more. She's outdoors. Tell
us about what's going on where you are Elinda, outside -- I imagine you are actually in Athens?
ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: I am in Athens, I am at the very center of Athens. And you can see while it's now getting dark, but until just minutes
ago, you could see the smoke from the fires. That's how close they are to the Greek capital. It's a fire that has rekindled after burning dozens of
homes in the last few days in the northern suburbs of Athens, a residential area where many people live. And we understand that these areas are now
being evacuated again and part of the national highway is also closed.
It's not the only fire, unfortunately, that we have in Greece at the moment. There's a very large fire on the island of Evia, it's an island
that's popular with tourists and locals alike. People have being evacuated from there as well, and the third big fire that we have right now is that
the ancient Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympics, there's a tremendous operation under way to ensure that the flames do not reach the
archaeological space there. And this is all part of a series of fires that have been really breaking out in record numbers in the last three days.
Over 200 fires in three days.
Just to help you understand the urgency, how -- the significance of all this, the Greek prime minister has just addressed the nation. He just said
that conditions are really serious, told people to avoid unnecessary movement. Told people to follow instructions and do as they're told just to
make sure that we don't claim any human lives. This is all very much linked to the sweltering temperatures that we're experiencing in Greece right now.
Record temperatures. The worst --
GORANI: Yes --
LABROPOULOU: Heat wave in over four decades. And the temperatures are expected to remain very high until the end of the week. So we're just being
asked to exercise as much caution as possible, Hala.
GORANI: All right, Elinda Labropoulou in Athens, thanks very much. Right, let's bring you breaking news from the world of sport. According to FC
Barcelona, Lionel Messi will not re-sign with the club. Barcelona is blaming financial and structural obstacles for the Argentine forward's
departure, and many of you will know, Messi has won ten La Liga titles. He's Barcelona's all-time leader in goals in games played, and you'll have
much more ahead in "WORLD SPORT" after HALA GORANI TONIGHT at the bottom -- at the tail end of this hour.
Still to come, evidence of a potential camp for political prisoners in Belarus as the government continues to crackdown on dissidents. We have an
exclusive report. And Iran swears in a new president as it faces mounting challenges. How this ultra conservative cleric is pledging to turn things
around. Will he? We'll be right back.
GORANI: The Belarusian Olympic athlete who is defying her team's orders to return home is now in Poland. The sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya is there
on a humanitarian visa and hopes she and her husband will be able to stay longer term. She found herself in a middle of a scandal back home after
criticizing her country's Olympic coaches. She says it was a conversation with her grandmother living in Belarus that convinced her not to fly back
there from Tokyo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTINA TIMANOVSKAYA, BELARUSIAN SPRINTER: My grandmother, she called me, and she said you can't come back to home because on the TV, they say a lot
of bad words about you, that you have some mental problems and maybe you can go to the hospital in Belarus or maybe to jail. We don't know.
(through translator): I will be ready to return to Belarus when I'll be sure my stay there will be safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, there you have it. And Nick Paton Walsh joins me now to talk about why potentially this Olympic athlete has concerns about returning
home. Reports of a newly refurbished prison camp believed to be prepared to house jailed dissidents. You have some exclusive reporting on this. Tell us
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Yes, I mean, obviously, intermittently, the spotlight is shown on the
extraordinary repression inside Belarus with the case of Kristina Timanovskaya certainly, and also too in the past with the Ryanair jet that
was forced to land in Minsk so the authoritarian regime could arrest an opposition blogger. We have obtained some videos and witness statements
that appear to suggest that a prison camp is being readied, refurbished not far from Kiev after -- I'm sorry, Minsk about an hour's drive potentially
to house political dissidents. Here is a report.
WALSH (voice-over): A chilling sight not from the last century, but last month. A possible prison camp built inside Belarus for political prisoners.
CNN obtained this footage of what witnesses said looked like a newly refurbished camp about an hour's drive from the capital Minsk. A new sign
saying forbidden border and entry. A three-layer fence, electrified, they said. New moving surveillance cameras, bars and reflective screens on the
windows of newly rebuilt barracks. No prisoners yet. What looked like a soldier inside and regular military patrols who told our witnesses outside
to leave? One local talked to them anonymously.
My friend Sasha, a builder, told me they've refurbished this place, he says. There are three levels of barbed wire and it's electrified. I was
picking mushrooms here when a military man came up to me and said I can't walk here. The building sits on a vast site of a former Soviet missile
storage facility surrounded by forest. The repairs came not long after defecting police officers released secret recordings of senior police
discussing the need for prison camps at several sites.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The assignment to develop and build a camp, but not for prisoners of war or even the interned, but a camp for
the especially sharp-hoofed for resettlement and surrounded with barb wire along the perimeter.
WALSH (on camera): Not surprisingly CNN hasn't gained access to the interior of the site so we can't definitively say that it is intended for
use as a prison camp. But a western Intelligence official I spoke to said that use was, quote, "possible", although they didn't have direct evidence.
(voice-over): In the current climate it's tough to imagine what else the camp could be for. Opposition leaders fear it's possible use by a President
Alexander Lukashenko's forces during future protests.
FRANAK VIACORKA, SENIOR ADVISER TO SVIATLANA TSIKHANOUSKAYA: It's not surprising that he's trying to build something like a regular prison camp
because the new way for protests will come up anyway. It can be triggered by his statement. It can be triggered by economic situation, but it will
come. And he understands that he also wants to be prepared more than last year in 2020. Now, this is why I would not be surprised if such camps are
WALSH: Belarusian officials declined to comment and have called the recording about camps fake news when it was released saying they followed
the law. These images emerge after a weeks-long crackdown against remaining independent media inside Belarus and dozens of arrests. Inside Belarus, the
protest movement has been persecuted so hard it now holds remote flash mob demonstrations like these filmed by drones.
But some of it is finding ways to hit back, CNN has learned. These are railway saboteurs, apparently, an action they say their operations, the
details of which we aren't disclosing, just trigger alarms that stop trains on the tracks, risking nobody's safety and causing traffic to slow down,
they say. We spoke to one organizer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When our skies are blocked, he said, we should block the land as well. The main goal is to cause economic
damage for the regime because all the delays cause them to pay huge fines.
WALSH: This action was carried out, they said, on a key route from Russia to the European Union. CNN can't independently confirm it was effective.
(on camera): If there is an impact on rail traffic, is could have great significant outside of Belarus and here, Lithuania because so many goods
from the east rely on this network to get to Europe.
(voice-over): Signs both sides could be adopting new harsher tactics and what may await fresh protests as the screws tighten.
WALSH: Important to remember that a year ago, we were talking about peaceful protests being met with extraordinary brutality by riot police.
Now, those kinds of protests en masse are pretty much impossible. People arrested in their homes. We've reported on allegations of male rape by the
police. We've seen instances in which activists have died in custody. It's extraordinarily brutal, the daily function of it seems Belarusian law
enforcement as they crack down on the opposition there, and a continual crackdown. There are likely more votes ahead, possibly more protests and
it's troubling, I think to see the opposition, it seems, in small parts moving towards sabotage and the government increasingly it seems relaxed
about how it's perceived abroad.
Happy to force land commercial jets. Happy to have the Olympics disrupted by their somewhat clumsy attempt to get an athlete sent home just for
criticizing her Olympic managers for making her run a race that she wasn't used to running. It's extraordinary and shows perhaps a regime that's
isolated, certainly, one that may have lost a little bit of touch with how normal people function and one that may be possibly a headache for its key
financial backer and ally, the Kremlin and at the same time two of their analysts saying, actually, well, Vladimir Putin looks at this and is
grateful for the distraction. Grateful for a new bad man, a bad dictator in Europe for the western European Union to rail against and frankly is happy
for this to continue. Hala?
GORANI: Nick, thanks very much. Still to come tonight, why the U.S. Justice Department is intervening in a vendetta involving the Saudi Crown Prince
and a former Saudi spymaster. Also coming up, Mexico is suing American gun- makers over firearms flowing across the border and into criminal Mexican hands. We'll have that coming up as well.
GORANI: Welcome back.
A hardline conservative cleric has been sworn in as the new president of Iran. Ebrahim Raisi took the oath of office today in front of parliament
and world leaders.
In a speech, he called for the lifting of U.S. sanctions, which have severely hurt the Iranian economy. And he said he would support any
diplomatic plan to make it happen.
His inauguration comes as Iran is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is with us from Tehran with more.
We know what Raisi wants, the lifting of sanctions, the revival of that deal.
Are we on the path to -- is he on any kind of path to making that happen?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that it still could be a long way to make that happen. One of the things
we've seen over the past couple of weeks and maybe the last month is that the negotiations to make that happen have really hit an impasse.
Several reasons for that. On the one hand, the U.S. says it wants to talk about follow-up agreements, possibly talk about Iran's ballistic missile
program, also some of the other things Iran is doing in the region. The Iranians don't want to talk about that at all.
The Iranians, for their part, however, they want concessions from the U.S., saying the U.S. will not leave the nuclear agreement again if there's a new
administration in Washington, like, for instance, the Trump administration left after the Obama administration had dealt out the Iran nuclear
So the two sides still have certain impasses. Both sides say they want to make the nuclear agreement happen. However, the U.S. is saying time for
those negotiations is running out.
As far as Ebrahim Raisi today was concerned, at his inauguration, he did say, yes, he wants the sanctions lifted. He believed it was important for
the Iranian people and that he'd support the diplomatic process.
But he also said he believes in general Iran should still play a very large role here in this region and that could also mean confronting the U.S.
Let's listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The Islamic Republic's power in the region creates security. Our regional capabilities
support stability and peace in various nations. And it will only be used to fight hegemonic powers. The nuclear program of the Islamic Republic is
completely peaceful. (END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So there the Iranians once again saying they do not intend to build a nuclear weapon. That was one of the other things that came up in
that speech as well.
But in general, what we heard today in that inauguration speech, I think several key factors, Hala, were that Ebrahim Raisi's administration is
going to try to go away from essentially relying on better relations with the West, try to jumpstart the economy here.
He wants more trade with regional partners. That's also one of the reasons why he wants better relations with Saudi Arabia, good relations with
Turkey, Pakistan, also African countries as well. As the Iranians are now really trying to almost insulate their economy from possible sanctions in
Not everybody is convinced that can actually happen but that certainly seems to be the way this new administration is going to go, Hala.
GORANI: Well, better relations with Saudi Arabia would solve a problem or two in the Middle East. We'll see if that pans out. Thanks very much, Fred
Pleitgen, live in Tehran for us.
Mexico is suing 11 U.S. gun manufacturers, accusing them of fueling violence through reckless business practices. Now here's what the lawsuit
alleges, that the gunmakers are, in fact, facilitating the illegal trafficking of weapons to drug cartels across the border through
negligence. That's what the allegation is.
The move is an attempt to halt the flow of firearms going into Mexico. But the president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, says it's not an attempt to
take away America's Second Amendment right. They wouldn't have the power to do that, anyway. CNN's Rafael Romo joins me from Atlanta with more.
Talk to us more about this case and what the Mexican government is hoping to achieve through this case.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes, hi, Hala. Well, the issue is of who is to blame for gun trafficking from the United States to Mexico.
It has been a sore point, Hala, in the relationship between the two countries for years.
During the best times of the relationship, especially when Barack Obama was president and Hillary Clinton his secretary of state, the White House
referred to drug and gun trafficking as a shared problem that required a shared solution.
But this is the first time the Mexican government goes this far, filing a lawsuit Wednesday against 11 gun manufacturers over firearms that flow from
the United States across the border and into criminal hands in Mexico, according to court documents obtained by CNN.
Part of the complaint says the following, "This flood," referring to the weapons, "is not a natural phenomenon or an inevitable consequence of the
gun business or of U.S. gun laws. It is the foreseeable result," it says, "of the defendants' deliberate actions and business practices."
Now who are the companies being targeted by the lawsuit?
Among the major brands are Smith & Wesson, Colt and Glock, companies well known in the United States and around the world.
Glock, one of the defendants, told CNN that it is company policy not to comment on pending litigations. Nevertheless, they said, in a statement,
"Glock will vigorously defend this baseless lawsuit." The other companies did not respond immediately to CNN's request for comment, Hala.
What's Mexico's reasoning behind the lawsuit?
Let me read you what the Mexican foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said, the following on his Twitter account.
"We have filed a lawsuit against manufacturers and sellers of weapons that are utilized to cut lives short in Mexico. We seek reparation for the harm
and ask that they abandon their negligence and any responsibility. The lawsuit will be resolved in the courts in Boston."
So it is a very sore issue between the United States and Mexico and it remains to be seen what the courts in the United States are going to say,
GORANI: All right. Rafael Romo, thanks very much.
In an extremely rare move, the U.S. Justice Department is intervening in a court case against a former top Saudi intelligence official, who was a key
American partner in counterterrorism operations for decades.
It says that, if the case against Saad al-Jabri proceeds, classified intelligence secrets that could damage U.S. national security may be
exposed. Al-Jabri is the target of a personal vendetta by MBS, the Saudi crown prince, and he is being sued in Massachusetts and Canada by Saudi
companies owned by the kingdom's Sovereign Wealth Fund.
All right. It's a bit of a complicated story. Let's bring in Alex Marquardt to help us unravel this case.
What is the Justice Department doing here in this -- in this Saudi-on-Saudi vendetta?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is a complicated case. There are a lot of factors here. But what is clear is
that the Department of Justice here in Washington is very concerned about what may come out as a result of this case.
MARQUARDT: It all comes back to, as you said, as we've been calling it a vendetta, a campaign by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, MBS, against Saad
al-Jabri who was, for many years, a senior official in counterterrorism, working very closely with American officials and others around the world.
In fact, American officials I've spoken with have credited him with saving hundreds, if not thousands of American lives. Now al-Jabri has become a
nemesis, if you will, of MBS. He fled Saudi Arabia in 2017, moving to Canada.
And now we have these cases in Canada and the United States by a group of state-backed Saudi companies, so ultimately under the control of MBS, who
are accusing al-Jabri of embezzlement, which is something he denies.
Now DOJ says that these companies were set up expressly for the purposes of counterterrorism activities. And so if al-Jabri is to defend himself in
court, they say, that he will then need to -- or would be expected to reveal classified information, so essentially state secrets.
So now this week, on Tuesday, the DOJ filed a motion to intervene, saying that, if the case were allowed to proceed without their intervention, that
it would involve the disclosure of information that could reasonably be expected to damage the national security of the United States.
One more thing that illustrates this campaign against al-Jabri by Saudi Arabia, by MBS, is the fact that two of his young children, Omar and Sarah,
who are both in their early 20s, they have been imprisoned.
And just last week, a group of bipartisan senators here in the U.S. wrote a letter to President Biden, calling on him to help free these children and
saying explicitly that this campaign of persecution against al-Jabri and his family is directly harming U.S. national security interests.
Of course, this is not the first time MBS has put the U.S. in a very tough position. Of course, the U.S. has said explicitly that MBS was behind the
killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a resident of the United States.
GORANI: All right, Alex Marquardt, thanks very much for that report, live from Washington.
Thanks to all of you for watching tonight. During the Olympics, the show is a bit shorter. So, stay with CNN. After a quick break, a special Olympic
edition of "WORLD SPORT" is coming your way. I'll see you tomorrow.