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Hala Gorani Tonight
Russia And The West Make No Progress On Ukraine; Former Syrian Colonel Convicted In A Landmark Trial In Germany; Prince Andrew Stripped Of Military Titles And Charity Roles; France Will Ease Requirements For Travelers From The U.K.; U.S. Justice Department Files First Charges For Sedition For Capitol Siege; Novak Djokovic Awaits Australian Immigration Minister's Decision. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 13, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. A U.S. official accuses Russia of
sounding, quote, "drum beats of war". We'll explore that story. Also, this hour, a German court finally sentences a member of the Syrian regime to
life in prison for crimes against humanity. We'll have those stories and more later.
But first, breaking news here in the U.K. Buckingham Palace has just announced that Prince Andrew has been stripped of all of his military
titles and charity roles. This comes just a day after a U.S. judge ruled that Virginia Giuffre's sex assault case against the Duke of York can go
ahead. She claims she was trafficked to the prince while she was underage. He has strongly denied this. Max Foster joins me now from Hampshire for
more on this story. And this statement is pretty remarkable, the Duke of York, it reads in part, "is defending this case as a private citizen", Max.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so he hasn't been found guilty in a court of law, so therefore, you know, the extraordinary nature of the
statement because it is permanently removing all of his titles, military and his other patronages, specifically as well, and you know, really
notably, he can no longer use his royal highness. That's the style that's used by working members of the royal family. So, he's effectively being
kicked out of the firm, you know, the working side of the family, is of course, still part of the family.
He's still Prince Andrew. He's still the Duke of York, but he's not his royal highness Prince Andrew. And this is a decision by the queen. I've
been told it's involved lots of members of the family, but ultimately, it will be the queen that decides this, probably in a room with her direct as
William and Charles, and they've decided that this case in New York is just too damaging to the reputation, puts too much risk to the reputation of the
GORANI: Richard Quest is in Dubai, and you can join us now. This story, is of course, interesting internationally. The royal family in this country
has been the subject of fascination for a very long time. There's sort of a PR aspect to this as well, Richard.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. The -- as Max points out, you can't get rid of Prince Andrew per se, he is the queen's son. So by
definition, he will remain a member of, quote, "the royal family". What you can do is cast him adrift. You can remove those things that in any shape,
form or description tie him to the official royal family. And that's what's happened today.
To bear in mind, you know, the loss of his military titles will be extremely painful to Andrew, who was a Falklands war veteran and who takes
it very seriously. The loss of the HRH, his royal highness, is a very symbolic but important step. Remember, Diana, Princess of Wales, and
Fergie, but particularly Diana, she lost her HRH when she divorced Charles, even though she was going to be married to the future -- sorry, she's the
mother of the future king.
And the reason was, well, that's the way it goes. When you're no longer a member of the royals or the close royal family, you're no longer a working
royal, it's gone. And that's what's happened here. Andrew has been cast adrift.
GORANI: Let me ask you, Max, because -- I mean, it took me by surprise, it happened very quickly. This is just a day after a judge in the U.S.
announced that the sex abuse case against Prince Andrew can proceed. Why so quickly and so decisively, do you think?
FOSTER: Well, we were talking yesterday about the various options, remember, Hala, that Prince Andrew had in principally, you know, to ignore
the case or to, you know, pursue the case or to go for an out-of-court settlement. Late last night, Giuffre's lawyer appeared on the "BBC" saying
she wasn't minded to take an out-of-court settlement.
She wanted to have her day in court, was effectively what he was saying. And then we heard from a statement from Prince Andrew today, from his side
-- actually, it was a statement. Sources close to his side outside the palace telling me that this is a marathon not a sprint, so the Duke will
continue to defend himself against these claims.
That implies that he's not going for a settlement. He's not going to ignore the case, either. So, he's going to try to clear his name in the court,
which means that this would continue throughout the year. So, he was at Windsor Castle tonight or today with the queen. He was seen leaving Windsor
Castle today. We could only assume there was a conversation there, saying that perhaps that he wanted to pursue this case.
But the queen had to think, you know, beyond the family, think about the monarchy, the damage being done there, and I think he's going to do that,
then she has to, as Richard says, cast him out so it doesn't reflect on her and the monarchy.
GORANI: All right, thanks very much, we'll continue to follow this story. Richard Quest is in Dubai, you'll be hosting "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" at the
top of the next hour. Max Foster, thanks again. And we will be revisiting, I'm sure this story very soon. Now go to the Russia, Ukraine, NATO story.
The drum beat of war is sounding loud, America's ambassador to the OSCE made that ominous observation today, following a third fruitless meeting
Russian and western diplomats gathered again, this time in Vienna, Austria, to seek -- try to seek a diplomatic way to resolve their stand' off. They
did not come close as Russia held new tank exercises near the Ukrainian border. NATO again demanded that Moscow pull back its estimated 100,000
troops from the area, which Russia's foreign minister dismissed outright. Sergey Lavrov said, "I do not think we need to explain how absolutely
unacceptable such demands are, and of course, we will not even discuss them", end quote.
And NATO calls Russia's insistence on a guarantee that it won't expand further into eastern Europe a non-starter. In fact, America's top diplomat
to the talks says she's not sure Russia is even meeting in good faith. And the OSCE chairman, the Polish foreign minister, put the prospects bluntly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZBIGNIEW RAU, OSCE CHAIRMAN & FOREIGN MINISTER, POLAND: It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's get perspectives now from two senior correspondents, our correspondents, Alex Marquardt is in Brussels for us, Sam Kiley is in Kiev,
where he just spoke with Ukraine's deputy prime minister. I'll get you in a moment, Sam, but first, Alex, the Russians are basically saying that the
talks have hit a dead end. Is this a negotiating tactic or are we really at the end of the road here?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: They are essentially stalled at this point, Hala. I don't think you'll find many people on the western
side, NATO and U.S. ready to give up just yet. No one is saying right now that war is imminent. But clearly, they have made zero progress throughout
the week on the major issues. And that is kind of where the Biden administration expected to stand at this point, frankly. They didn't expect
to have any sort of breakthroughs, as Secretary Tony Blinken said on the major issues.
And so, the two sides are still very much talking past each other. NATO wants Russia to de-escalate. You said there -- you pointed out there, the
quote from Sergey Lavrov, who said that essentially that that's ridiculous. And then Russia is demanding that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO, and
that NATO pulled back essentially to its positions from almost 30 years ago. That was not going to happen.
I think what is quite frustrating for the U.S. and the NATO side is they did expect, they had hoped to make some progress on smaller issues, if you
will, about transparency, about military exercises, about arms control. And the Russians have said in essence, that's not what we want to talk about.
So, I think what you're going to see in the coming days is NATO watching Russia sort of do their -- go through their calculations. But it's true
that Russia has backed themselves into a corner, and the question now is, of course, what is going to be their next move?
The U.S. has said we have yet to see whether they're taking these diplomatic talks seriously. And of course, Hala, as you know, this really
just comes down to the decision of President Vladimir Putin.
GORANI: Yes, absolutely. Sam Kiley in Kiev, you spoke to the deputy prime minister of Ukraine. What's the reaction there?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, august definition is the deputy prime minister in charge of the NATO file and the European
Union file. In other words, if there's anybody in Ukraine that really grinds Mr. Putin's teeth, it must be her, because it's her that is leading
the efforts to try to advance Ukraine into membership of both of those multilateral western dominated organizations. But she was very firm indeed,
as this interview shows, just what Ukraine says it really needs and needs now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KILEY: Do you want to see now more military hardware coming in as a deterrent? Do you want to see some serious deliveries of some serious kits?
OLGA STEFANISHYNA, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, UKRAINE: Let's make it clear that we as Ukrainians, we understand that no other nation would fight for
Ukraine on its territory. But what we understand also clearly, that if Europe wants to sleep well and to feel that their democracy is safe, they
should invest in Ukraine's defense. They should make sure that our army is twice as capable as it can be to deter and to fight against Russian
KILEY: Why do you think he's doing this?
STEFANISHYNA: Well, I think first of all, it's very much positively serves to his internal narrative. Because look, this was the leader who has been
known in his country as the one ignored by the democratic world, by somebody who has not been seen as a counterpart for the dialogue. And now
immediately, he's the leader presenting the big country, showing that he's trying to establish new spheres of influence.
KILEY: So do you think he's bluffing? He's bluffed his way to international multilateral prominence? Is that really his end game? He doesn't really
have any intent to send tanks into Kiev?
STEFANISHYNA: Well, I don't think that it's of his interest because basically, sending tanks to Kiev would be the end of his game. Of course,
that we could have a fully-fledged war in the center of Europe and Ukraine will fight against this aggression, but that would be his end. Nothing
would follow after this military aggression. But before this military aggression, he has huge room for maneuver, to raise the stakes and to play
in the spheres where he's allowed to play.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KILEY: Now, Hala, whilst she may be saying that Putin has got this wide range of maneuver before it goes to this kind of catastrophic consequences
of the threat that he's posing to Ukraine. She also made -- when we were chatting after, very interesting point that seemed to just occur to her in
the moment, which is that, in the past, Putin has been opaque exactly what he was trying to achieve.
But now with these ultimatums that he has been presenting to Europe to withdraw troops back to the 19 -- NATO positions, back to pre-'97 and a
complete ban on any kind of expansion east, he's laid these cards out. So, now, it makes it easier for Ukraine to actually advance their case to join
NATO, because NATO now knows exactly what they're dealing with, Hala.
GORANI: And Alex, one last one to you. You're saying western diplomats are not ready to give up. So what's the next step? This week clearly has been a
MARQUARDT: Well, I don't -- I think some might dispute that it's been a failure. Just -- when you saw what happened yesterday at NATO, you know,
the head of NATO and Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg pointed out that this was the first time that they had sat down with the Russian side in two
years. And the head of the U.S. delegation, Wendy Sherman, she pointed out that the Russians did sit at the table and listen to 30 other countries for
GORANI: Right --
MARQUARDT: Now, what they're going to be watching for is maybe Russia will want to keep discussing those other issues, those second-tier issues in the
coming days. It's clear that Russia is extremely frustrated by the fact that in their words, their demands are being ignored. But they knew that
was going to happen. The U.S. and NATO had said before, this is -- this is -- this is -- these are non-starters. That's not even a question.
And so, what you will probably see are continued efforts by the Europeans, by the Americans, to try to keep these conversations going, but for now,
you're absolutely right. The noise is coming out of Moscow, they don't want to talk anymore. But it does not feel like the door is completely slammed
shut just yet, Hala.
GORANI: All right, Alex Marquardt, thanks very much, Sam Kylie as well in Kiev. And still to come tonight, a historic verdict and some sense of
justice for the victims of Syria's civil war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WASSIM MUKDAD, SYRIAN WITNESS & JOINT PLAINTIFF: This memory that I kept willingly because I didn't want it to be just lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: We'll hear more from people who testified against a Syrian army colonel who was found, and this is a first, guilty of crimes against
humanity in Germany today. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Now, to a historic verdict in the first ever trial involving state- sponsored torture in Syria. A former army colonel in Bashar al-Assad's regime was found guilty today of crimes against humanity. He was sentenced
to life in prison. German prosecutors put Anwar Raslan on trial under universal jurisdiction laws. Crimes against humanity fall under that
jurisdiction. The court found that he oversaw the murder and torture of detainees at a notorious Damascus prison a decade ago.
Victims' families call it a first step in a long path to justice. Testimony from Syrians who suffered in that prison was key to Raslan's conviction.
The judge thanked them for their bravery in taking the stand to recount the horrific brutality that they endured. Jomana Karadsheh is live in Koblenz,
Germany, where the trial took place with more. Jomana.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, truly, a historic day here when you talk to the victims, the survivors, the lawyers who have
been involved in this case for nearly two years now. They see it as such a great victory.
And they tell you that this is -- you know, while this was the trial of one man, Colonel Anwar Raslan, who was on trial for his role overseeing the
torture of nearly -- about 4,000 people, the death of dozens, and those counts of sexual assaults.
They remind you that this took place in one detention facility, in Al- Khatib detention facility in Damascus over the span of a few months at the beginning of the uprising. And they say that this is a story that's
replicated thousands of times over in Syria over the past decade. So, for them, while this was the trial of one man and what he was responsible for,
they see this as a conviction of the entire system of the regime of crimes against humanity.
They say that this proves the crimes against humanity have taken place and are taking place in Syria. Anwar al-Bunni; a prominent human rights lawyer,
someone who has dedicated his life for decades now fighting for human rights in Syria, long before Bashar al-Assad came to power, long before the
Syrian revolution. He described this as a victory for justice, a victory for the victims of the Syrian regime. He says those who are still in Syria
and those who did not live to see this day.
Hala, we have to warn our viewers, the report they're about to see contains some very graphic images of torture.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): It is in this small idyllic German city where Syria's long road to justice begins. With an end to a decade of impunity
for some of the worst atrocities of our time. This court in Koblenz is the first in the world to convict a former senior member of the Assad regime of
crimes against humanity.
A year ago, it sentenced a junior co-defendant to four and a half years in prison for his role in the case. For nearly two years, the court heard of
horrors that unfolded thousands of miles away at a Damascus detention facility where former Colonel Anwar Raslan allegedly oversaw the torture of
as many as 4,000 detainees, sexual assaults and the death of dozens during the early days of the uprising. Raslan defected in 2012 and later fled to
Germany, where his past caught up with him. Some of his victims were among the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who also made it to Germany.
MUKDAD: He ordered directly to a man next to me, make him lay on his belly and raise his feet in the air, like a stress situation, and once the
answers didn't suit him, the other man, anchor man, starts to hit the resister. It's like hell.
KARADSHEH: Musician Wassim Mukdad was tortured ten years ago. He says he's been tormented by the trauma ever since. Reliving that trauma and
confronting his jailer, he says was a duty to those who never made it out to tell their own stories.
MUKDAD: I gave my testimony on the 19th of August 2020. I felt relief. A huge burden from my shoulders. This memory that I kept willingly because I
didn't want it to be just lost and those suffering would be in vain.
KARADSHEH: Activists have been collecting evidence of the regime's rampant and systematic torture long before this trial. In 2014, some of the most
damning visual evidence of state-sponsored torture emerged after horrific photographs of thousands of detainees tortured to death in Assad's jails
were smuggled out of Syria by a military defector code named Cesar(ph). But up until this trial, no one had ever been held accountable.
The path to international accountability has been blocked by regime allies, Russia and China. But that is starting to change now.
(on camera): Here in Germany and in other European countries, victims have found a new path to justice under universal jurisdiction. Illegal principle
that allows national courts like this one to prosecute grave crimes against international law, no matter where in the world they were committed.
(voice-over): It is the breakthrough Anwar al-Bunni has dedicated his life to, the human rights lawyer was a driving force behind this trial and other
cases in Europe.
ANWAR AL-BUNNI, SYRIAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: Crimes against humanity, it's not crimes which is committed by one person. It's committed by regime, by
state. When the charge will be crimes against humanity, that means holds the system, holds the regime, and holds the person charged now.
KARADSHEH: Bunni believes this trial sends a message of hope at a time when Assad appears to have won the war and many in the international community
seem keen to turn the page.
AL-BUNNI: We want to send message to the criminals who are still in Syria or they escape to here and think they are safe now and OK, we -- let --
there is no safe place can hide you. No safe place to you in all the world.
KARADSHEH: Victims say their battle for justice is only just beginning.
KARADSHEH: And you know, Hala, we spent the day outside the courthouse today, and as you can imagine, this is an incredibly emotional day for so
many. Wassim Mukdad, who you saw there in our piece, he came out saying that, you know, he now feels that he can start the process of healing after
living with that torment of torture over the past ten years. And it's also a very difficult day for many others who, you know, say they have mixed
emotions about this.
We met this group of women who traveled to Koblenz, who stood outside the court today as you saw at the end of our piece, standing there, holding up
the photographs of their loved ones who disappeared in Assad's jails. Those who vanished without a trace after being detained by the regime, an
estimated 120,000 Syrians who have -- who were forcibly disappeared by the regime.
Their family members were there to remind the world about these disappeared, demanding answers and saying that, you know, while the
regime's previous crimes, the history of crimes is on trial, they wanted to remind the world that this is not something of the past, that there are
victims who are still living with those crimes and the impact these crimes have had on them. Hala.
GORANI: Right, and I can imagine how frustrating it is, because as you mentioned in your piece, world leaders are starting to normalize the Assad
regime again. There are even official visits happening in Damascus, et cetera. This Raslan war criminal, he actually emigrated to Germany and was
recognized by some of his former victims.
They gave him up. They said, this is the man who tortured me. I wonder, this is setting a precedent? I mean, something similar can happen in the
future in Germany.
KARADSHEH: Absolutely, Hala. There are several other cases under that principle of universal jurisdiction that are in the works in different
European countries. Here in Germany, in France, in Sweden, and in other countries, and this is really seen as the new path forward when that path
to international justice is still international accountability is still being blocked. This is the way forward. And when you look at Germany, this
is a country where you had nearly a million Syrians who ended up here.
So, you have a case where the perpetrators and the victims ended up in the same country. And another thing that a lot of the lawyers, people we speak
to say that there's a lot of credit here to be given to the German authorities who from the start of the conflict began investigating. They
had kept a close eye on crimes that were taking place inside Syria, whether it's the Syrian regime or other Jihadist groups including ISIS, extremist
groups that were also responsible for crimes there.
And also, a lot of credit goes to so many different organizations, activists, who --
GORANI: Yes --
KARADSHEH: For the past decade did not give up on not having a path to justice. They kept working, Hala, collecting evidence, collecting witness
testimony to make sure that when this day comes, when they'll be able to hold the trials, the evidence will be there.
GORANI: And we really hope that these trials happen and that these people who have committed these horrific crimes are one day held accountable.
Thank you so much Jomana Karadsheh live in Koblenz, Germany. Still to come tonight in France, thousands of teachers are fed up with constantly
changing COVID regulations and they're making their frustrations public. They're actually walking off the job.
Plus, Novak Djokovic is preparing to defend his title at Melbourne Park next week, but that's only if he's still in Australia at that point. We'll
be right back.
GORANI: France has announced it will relax requirements for fully vaccinated travelers from the U.K. Starting Friday, travelers will not need
to be required to isolate upon arrival -- you will remember they added that measure in mid-December -- though they will need to present a negative PCR
test less than a day before departure.
Other changes to French COVID protocols are sparking outrage, though. Thousands of teachers across the country went on strike today. One union
leader says constantly shifting guidelines are causing chaos and putting teachers' lives in danger.
Melissa Bell joins me live from Paris with more on this anger from teachers.
And it must be very frustrating for parents because, after so many months of having to, you know, look after their children at home, now they have
some very angry teachers to deal with.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And of course, the government depends on these teachers to stay in the classrooms in order
that the classrooms can stay open and the economy as well.
We have seen everything the last couple years has brought in terms of that and the French prime minister speaking to Parliament this week was clear,
even in the face of the anger from school teachers, that this was what the government's priority was, keeping schools open in order that the economy
should stay open.
What the teachers are angry about, the reason they went on strike so massively today and took to streets in big numbers today in several French
cities, Hala, is, first of all, that they say they weren't kept informed of the changes that were announced on Monday, changes that aim to keep
children in class longer by changing the rules so that it is self-tests that are required before they get back to class, should they have been in
contact with a child who was himself positive.
So a sort of loosening of the rules to keep classrooms open, that school teachers say they were not informed of, they learned of from the media and
it's simply not designed to keep them safe.
So a bit of fear in there, a bit of anger, a lot of frustration, some that predated the pandemic. Many press releases referring to their historic
anger at budget cuts that have meant their profession, they feel, is no longer one they can no longer carry out in the right conditions.
So a lot of anger on the streets today, even as the government trying to find ways of keeping the country open when this Omicron driven wave is
really turning into something of a tsunami.
We're seeing extraordinary figures here in the greater Paris region of an incidence rate of nearly 3,000 per 100,000 people. That's a staggering
rate. Essentially, what authorities are doing is trying to keep the economy open, even as it deals with a wave that has yet to peak.
GORANI: And those are really staggering numbers. So the travel requirements to get into France have been relaxed, just as we're seeing these record
What do people need to know, who are thinking of traveling to France, planning a trip to France?
BELL: Well, that, as you say, you're better off being vaccinated since you're going to avoid that fairly stringently controlled 10-day quarantine,
where you have police visits to make sure you're in the right plane.
The unvaccinated will still have to go through that quarantine and register with the French digital platform before they head to France.
It's really all about for the French authorities encouraging people to get vaccinated as much as they can. And one of the controversial bills that's
making its way through parliament means that essentially the pass that allows you to get into restaurants, bars, cafes in France, where you had
been able to use a PCR test, becomes just a vaccine pass.
And a lot of people this Saturday, if they haven't gotten boosted yet, are going to lose their access to those places. So there's still some tension
there but really the government's drive is all about that, getting as many people vaccinated as they can, whether they're in France or coming from the
GORANI: Just to be clear, do international travelers need to be boosted to be considered vaccinated?
Or are two jabs enough?
BELL: You need to have a full -- what is happening here in France is, from Saturday, it is a full vaccination record you are required to have. That
means a booster as well. That will apply also to people coming from abroad.
They will, even if they have had the full vaccine pass, also have to provide a PCR test as you mentioned. So it still isn't as fluid or as easy
as it could be.
But very much, for the French authorities, the focus is on getting people vaccinated, for those who haven't done it, and getting people boosted
because, given those who went when they should have or when it became possible to get vaccinated, the booster, it is time for that.
And that's what their latest drive is about, making the vaccine pass necessary and that means having been boosted as well, Hala.
GORANI: The thing is that the negative PCR test is going to be a deal breaker for many people, because to get a PCR test result in 24 hours is
extremely difficult and extremely expensive.
BELL: That's right. And of course, it does mean still, even if there is some lightening of these restrictions, even if they're making it slightly
easier for the vaccinated, traveling remains extremely difficult.
Again, we're looking at European countries that have yet to see the peak of a wave that has submerged them. We're talking about extraordinary figures.
Here in France, we saw a record set on Tuesday, nearly 370,000 new cases in a single 24-hour period. That came down to just over 360,000 the following
We're down to just over 300,000 but it is still extraordinary figures. As you said, when you consider the previous waves, when hitting 50,000 new
cases in a 24-hour period was considered pretty remarkable and alarming, that's how fast Omicron is spreading.
And really governments are trying to find how they're can allow as much travel as they can, how they can keep schools open as much as they can and
the economy as open as they can, even though this wave really continues to submerge them.
GORANI: Thank you very much, Melissa Bell, live in Paris.
Quebec is planning to make those who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 pay a tax. Nothing is set in stone yet. It's a proposal but it already seems to
be working. The Canadian province's health minister says appointments to get a first dose are up by a lot.
And it does seem like it's because of this proposal. Officials say the unvaccinated are a burden on the public health system and that the amount
of the tax would be, quote, "significant."
Anger over COVID restrictions has spilled onto the streets of Bulgaria's capital, leading to some very tense scenes. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI (voice-over): These are anti-vaccine protesters, trying to storm the parliament building, pushing back a police cordon and briefly scuffling
with officers. An ultra nationalist party organized this rally. Several people, including police officers, were injured. And these are all people
who don't like vaccines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Chinese authorities are being criticized for a decision to shut down two hospitals in Xi'an. The hospitals were struggling to properly
treat patients while also observing China's strict COVID containment rules. We get more on this story from CNN's Selina Wang.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sudden COVID lockdowns in China have caused all sorts of disruptions, including for romance. For one 30-year-old
woman living in China, a quick get to know you meet-up turned into living at her blind date's house for days on end.
It happened where the woman went to meet her date for a home cooked meal on January 6th. When she was about to go home, the entire neighborhood went
China regularly locks down communities, even when just a single COVID case is found. The woman shared her story on social media, posting videos of her
date cooking meals for her, sweeping the floor, working on his laptop. The videos became a viral sensation in Chinese social media and a top trending
topic Weibo, on a Twitter-like platform in China.
As of Thursday, it's unclear whether the woman is still living at the man's house. The city has reported more than 100 COVID-19 cases. It shut down all
nonessential businesses. This is as China is doubling down on its zero COVID strategy through these types of lockdowns, mass testing and extensive
The city of Xi'an and its residents have been under strict lockdown since December 23rd. There's been a steady outpouring from the city, of desperate
stories on social media, of people struggling to get food, basic supplies and medical attention, including a viral video of a pregnant woman, who was
allegedly turned away from a hospital because she didn't have a valid COVID-19 test.
According to the post, she was admitted hours later but ultimately suffered a miscarriage. The hospital involved in that incident and also another
hospital there have now been ordered by authorities to temporarily shut down -- Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.
GORANI: More news ahead. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Breaking news: in the United States for the first time, federal prosecutors have filed charges of sedition for the January 6th attack on
the U.S. Capitol. The Justice Department just announcing charges against 11 people with a count of seditious conspiracy.
Among them is Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right group, the Oath Keepers. There have been more than 725 people arrested in relation to that
attack last year. Our senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, joins me now live.
Talk to us about how significant these charges are.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, this is a landmark charge for the Justice Department to bring against a group of people. There
are 11 people in all, who are charged with this charge of seditious conspiracy, something that is rarely used by federal authorities here in
the United States.
You have to go back decades, to a group of Puerto Rican nationalists, who were successfully prosecuted under this law. And it is something that the
Justice Department has been building toward.
You can see this in documents against a total of now 19 people, charged with various types of conspiracy.
And what the prosecutors are saying happened was, well before January 6th, that there was a group of people, including Stewart Rhodes, who was the
leader of the Oath Keepers, who participated in training, trying to make sure that people had tactical training to be able to use on January 6th;
that they stockpiled weapons, ammunition; that they organized themselves into what's called a quick reaction force, ready to take action on that
And what this does today is it takes it out of the realm of just a spontaneous riot, which is what I think a lot of Republicans, a lot of the
former president's allies, have been trying to claim, that this is no big deal; this is just a crowd that got out of control.
What prosecutors are laying out now is that this was something that was planned well, well before January 6th. You see they quote text messages on
the Signal encrypted app, in which they talk about civil war, that they were planning to do because they were not going to accept Joe Biden as
President of the United States -- Hala.
GORANI: I mean, planning a sedition or the overthrow, essentially, of a government is one of the most serious crimes you could possibly charge
What kind of sentence would they be facing here?
PEREZ: The maximum sentence is 20 years. And these guys were already facing probably more than a decade if they were convicted of some of the other
charges. So this does bring a heavy, heavy load for them to bear.
And you can see that one of the things that the prosecutors have been doing is working on others. And it appears they have gotten some cooperation to
be able to build some of the charges you see here today.
GORANI: And what about others?
You said the Justice Department has been working on this for a while.
GORANI: Could we see more charges of sedition brought against other people involved in January 6th?
PEREZ: Yes, I think it is possible. I think you heard from the attorney general on the anniversary of January 6th, just last week; he did a speech
in which he talked about the fact that the Justice Department was not going to stop just at the people who ran into the Capitol and were violent toward
They were going to build up. And so this is something that's going to go years, Hala. We know that, as you pointed out, I think 725 defendants so
far; we expect well over 1,000 people are going to be charged with various crimes.
And now the hard work, which is what you're pointing to, which is the hard work is to get to those people, who maybe did not go into the Capitol but
played an instrumental role in fomenting what happened.
GORANI: Evan Perez, thanks so much.
PEREZ: Thank you.
GORANI: And more breaking news out of the United States. The Supreme Court has blocked a move by the Biden administration to mandate vaccines for all
large businesses. But it allowed a vaccine mandate for some health care workers to go into effect across the country.
So the Supreme Court blocking a vaccine mandate that was a Biden administration policy for large businesses.
Still to come tonight, Australia's immigration minister is still debating whether to cancel Novak Djokovic's visa.
Where does it all stand?
We will bring you the latest.
GORANI: The armorer that was working on the movie "Rust" has filed a lawsuit against the company that supplied the guns and ammunition tied to
that fatal on-set shooting in October.
The armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed says the PDQ Arm and Prop Company supplied live rounds mixed in with the blanks, which is how the film's
cinematographer got shot, she contends. The lawsuit also includes allegations that, several others on the set, including the actor, Alec
Baldwin, broke protocol ahead of the shootings. So that's the latest on that.
Now to Djokovic; the Australian Open draw is set. And last year's winner, Novak Djokovic, is at the top of the bracket. He's set to face a fellow
Serb in the first round. But that's only if Djokovic is allowed to play. Paula Hancocks is in Melbourne.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We start with our number one seed, Novak Djokovic.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A slightly delayed but familiar draw for the Australian Open Thursday. And Djokovic was back on
the court, trying to defend his title at next week's tournament.
You could be forgiven for thinking this is a regular grand slam. But it is anything but. The sports world is waiting for this man, Alex Hawk. The
immigration minister has the power to personally intervene and revoke Djokovic's visa.
Prime minister Scott Morrison stood firm, that having a visa is not the only requirement to enter Australia during the pandemic.
SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: That individual has to show that they are double vaccinated or must provide acceptable proof that they
cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Djokovic is unvaccinated but believes his medical exemption of having had COVID-19 last month suffices. A court reinstated
his visa Monday on a procedural issue. The next move has to come from the government.
The Djokovic saga has completely overshadowed this tournament; other top players asked less about their hopes or chances but more about their
opinions on the world number one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really disappointing that Tennis Australia has allowed for this to happen because the Australian Open is more than one
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we should give him the chance to correct the human error or mistake, whatever he has committed. But I think it's good
for every one of us to see him playing on the court.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce offers a blunt view.
BARNABY JOYCE, AUSTRALIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: The vast majority of Australians said -- didn't like the idea that another individual, whether
they're a tennis player or the king of Spain or the queen of England, can come up here and have a different set of rules.
HANCOCKS: A mantra we have heard repeatedly over the past week: rules are rules, no matter who you are -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Melbourne, Australia.
GORANI: The whole saga started thousands of kilometers away in Serbia. CNN's Scott McLean is in Belgrade with more reaction from there -- Scott.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Hala. Look, Novak Djokovic has a friendly draw against his fellow country man in the first round of the
Australian Open. He is trying to avoid, though, facing his fellow country man back here in Serbia, if, in fact he is deported.
There are still some outstanding questions about the COVID test that Djokovic took while he was in this country. And while the Australian border
force is investigating potential irregularities, the health authorities in this country have said precious little to clear things up.
What's really remarkable about being here is how little there is to say. The president was on the state broadcaster last night for a pretty lengthy
interview. And even he was quite reluctant to harshly criticize a man, who is undoubtedly a national hero.
MCLEAN (voice-over): The streets of Belgrade are filled with tributes and memorials to prime ministers, royalty and home-grown heroes. But these
days, no one is revered quite like Novak Djokovic. The world's number one tennis player now struggling to stay in Australia, in large part because
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we are Serbs. We are on his side. So everything he says is right. It's a private thing. So I am vaccinated. But
if you don't want to do that, you know, you -- it is OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it is his personal choice. It is an individual thing. That's how we -- most people see it that way here.
MCLEAN: Serbs are watching this drama down under just as new COVID infections here are hitting record highs. And the Serbian government
continues to struggle to convince people to actually take the vaccine. Even today, less than 60 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated.
MCLEAN: Do you think he should have taken the vaccine?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that vaccine is the poison, so I think that he don't give it to his body.
MCLEAN (voice-over): In Serbia, there's an indoor mask mandate and a mandatory quarantine period after a positive test. But Djokovic admits he
didn't immediately isolate so that he could do an interview with a French newspaper, drawing subtle criticism even from his most powerful defender,
the Serbian president.
ALEKSANDAR VUCIC, SERBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If you know you're infected, you should not go out and infect others.
MCLEAN (voice-over): But in Belgrade, outrage is tough to come by.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't comment, honestly. He's our Novak, after all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, then, it was an error of judgment.
MCLEAN: You're not too upset about it, though?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know but, as he said, he had a mask. He was at a distance and so on.
MCLEAN (voice-over): Court documents show that Djokovic tested positive on November 16th and then negative on December 22nd. His positive result came
after 8:00 pm on the 16th. But he claims he wasn't notified until the next day, after he attended an event unmasked, with children.
MCLEAN (voice-over): We wanted to see how the testing system works. So we had producer Nada Bashir take the same PCR test in Belgrade. Her result was
emailed just two minutes after the result timestamp on the certificate, though others who have been tested say the time for results to be emailed
can vary widely.
The Serbian public health institute did not reply to CNN's attempt to seek clarification. The health ministry directed us to comments from the
government earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA BRNABIC, SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I don't know when he got the test results, when he actually saw them, and at what point in
time he became aware of testing positive. I only know that the date is December 16th.
As for when he got them, when he actually looked at them, I really don't know. It's something that Novak's team should say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: Now also in that interview with the Serbian president, he said that he was proud to have supported Djokovic in his efforts in Australia. He
also said that, in general, people should get vaccinated and that it's been a failure of the state to convince people to take the vaccine; the
president specifically pointing toward social media disinformation for that.
Now in terms of the questions around Djokovic's tests, there will be a press conference tomorrow with some public health officials from this
country. You can also bet they'll take questions about the ongoing pandemic here.
Of course, the Omicron variant continues to push up case counts. This country also hit a pretty sad milestone today; there have now been more
than 13,000 deaths from COVID since the outset of the pandemic -- Hala.
GORANI: Thank you, Scott McLean in Belgrade.
Finally, tonight talk about snail mail, The U.S. Postal Service has finally delivered this letter that a U.S. Army soldier wrote to his mother from
Germany in 1945. Sergeant John Gonsalves had not met his future wife; when he came home, he married her and his widow, you can see there, collected it
from the post office.
Now Gonsalves passed away in 2015, the letter long lost. But the post office said it recently discovered it in a mail facility in Pittsburgh,
found his wife and delivered it in December. His son said it felt like he came back for the holiday season. It is a sweet story after 76 years.
Thanks to all of you for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you next time, tomorrow. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming your