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Olympic Email Threat; Iran Nuclear Program; Ukraine Protests; Mayor Rob Ford -- At It Again; Texas Executes Mexican National Despite Protests

Aired January 23, 2014 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Deadly clashes in Ukraine's capital as protesters call for the government to resign.

And Texas executes its 509th prisoner since the death penalty was reinstated, but this one is causing an international problem.

And Iran's president tells CNN that nuclear technology is part of Iran's national pride and limits are not going to work.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

The pressing question this hour, how safe is Sochi? We're just talking about 15 days to go until the start of the Winter Olympics. And now we are seeing new threats to the games. A wanted terror suspect on the loose, warships ready to evacuate U.S. citizens, all causing a sharp rise in security concerns. Our Nick Paton Walsh, he is in Sochi with all the details and the threats and actually what officials are saying about it as well.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just over two weeks leading up to the Sochi Olympic games, mounting anticipation. Not about who will win the gold, but instead concern about a possible chink in the game's ring of steel.

The latest security threat, an email warning of a terrorist attack sent to the U.S. Olympic organizing committee and several European countries. But the International Olympic Committee quickly quelled the security concerns telling CNN the e-mail, "contains no threat and appears to be a random message from a member of the public."

The U.S. Olympic Committee is looking into it as well, saying, "the safety and security of Team USA is our top priority. As is always the case, we're working to ensure that our delegation and other Americans traveling to Sochi are safe."

The White House, however, says that American travelers should remain vigilant.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have seen an uptick in threat reporting prior to the Olympics, which is, of course, of concern, although it is also not unusual for a major international event.

WALSH: President Obama and the Joint Chiefs continue to offer counterterrorism expertise to Russia with IED detection software, jamming equipment and warships at the ready. All Russia needs is to give the green light.

CARNEY: We are offering the Russians any assistance that they might require or request in a situation like this.

WALSH: In the light of multiple terrorist threats, some carried out in regions surrounding Sochi, sweeps continue for the so-called black widow suicide bombers. One woman killed in a gun battle over the weekend. Another believed to have already bypassed the security corridor of Sochi.


MALVEAUX: Nick Paton Walsh is joining us live from Sochi.

And, Nick, you are in a place where they're calling it inside the ring of steel, this vast security zone around Sochi. Describe what it is like and the kinds of preparations that they are making.

WALSH: Well, Suzanne, where I'm actually standing here is inside one of the rings of steel. It's obviously, in many ways, (INAUDIBLE) with the Olympic villages near the town of Sochi has been pretty well fortified out by the police. And you see when you get off the plane in pretty substantial number. In fact, cars that aren't specifically registered, aren't in fact allowed to pass outside the front of the airport. But I went in today briefly into the inner, inner ring of steel. To get through that, I had to go through (INAUDIBLE) policemen shipped in from a very far province outside of Sochi itself.

There are other (INAUDIBLE) details too about how security's being implemented here. It's impossible to bring any kind of liquid onto aircraft, inside Russia. And Russia's had a bad history of aircraft being (ph) blown out of the sky too in a short period of time back in 2004. But around here, generally, the main thing you notice is how few people there are in streets that you would think would be bustling. It's mostly security personnel, people getting the last preparations done for those games just literally two weeks away, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. And what is the -- what's the mood there? I mean are people afraid? Do they feel prepared? Do they - I mean you look around all where you see there's security everywhere. Is there a sense that they've been reassured?

WALSH: It's a little too early to judge in many ways what the mood will be because, obviously, the athletes and the tourists haven't started arriving yet and they could make things slightly more festive. But right now it's anxiety, frankly.

And I think that's one of the miscalculations maybe the Kremlin made by choosing to have the games here. It's a feat to pull off security and build this amazing apparatus, $50 billion worth behind me. But at the end of the day, people were (ph) looking festivity (ph), for international sport, for international competition. I think now people are - we're all (ph) talking about who's going to win the gold. They're worried about, maybe, how safe their athletes will be, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Hopefully it will all turn out for the best. Thank you, Nick. We appreciate it.

Well, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev is largely downplaying the danger in Sochi. He sat down for an exclusive interview with our own Christiane Amanpour and tried to reassure the world that Russia's security forces will keep the winter games safe.


DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): With respect to threats on public events, there are always some threats. That's all -- not only in this country, but also in others. In this country, they have some specific (INAUDIBLE) consequences. Definitely we are aware of that and we will take that into count during the Olympics.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me just ask you to be specific. The Russian security forces, the government has sent out alert about a specific so-called black widow who may have penetrated even the ring of steel around Sochi already. And hotels are being told to look out for this person. Fliers and posters are being sent around. Given the amount of security that you've put in place, how is it possible that this could happen so close to the games?

MEDVEDEV: You know, we are having very tough struggle against terrorism. This is the relative our life of today. And all those threats, including the ones you have mentioned, occur not in the context - not only in the context of the Olympics. And we keep fighting them every day. Sometimes we have good results, but sometimes we don't have the results we expected. But anyway this struggle will be continued.


MALVEAUX: Some 40,000 Russian police and security personnel, they are actually in the Sochi area right now. This is the broadest security zone that was ever provided for any Olympic event.

Well, Iran is not getting rid of any nuclear production facilities, not taking anything apart and doesn't plan to start. That is another story we are following. That is straight from Iran's foreign minister to CNN. Mohammad Javad Zarif says that the Obama administration is not being 100 percent truthful in describing the nuclear agreement that took effect this week. And that the words used by the White House aren't even in the terms of the deal.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: What Iran has agreed is not to enrich above 5 percent. We did not agree to dismantle anything. What we agreed to was not to enrich over 5 percent. We agreed that. And we're not enriching over 5 percent. But we're not dismantling any centrifuges. We're not dismantling any equipment. We're simply not producing - not enriching over 5 percent.


MALVEAUX: As you might recall, Iran agreed back in November to a temporary deal to freeze part of its nuclear program. Now, in exchange, six world powers would ease some of the sanctions. Now, the action stage of the deal, that took effect on Monday. Fareed Zakaria, he is with us now from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Fareed, you just heard Iran's foreign minister say that the White House mischaracterized the terms of the deal. But you spoke exclusively to Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani. How does he explain Iran's position? What did they actually agree to?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN'S "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Actually, I think he would have - he went even further with me. It's the first time the Iranian government, certainly the president of Iran, has said not just in the interim deal, in any final deal there will be no destruction of centrifuges.

Iran's vision is very clear, you can have as much monitoring as you want. We pledge this will be a civilian program. But we intend to have a robust civilian program that will produce a lot of nuclear energy. No destruction of any centrifuges. Listen to what he had to say.


ZAKARIA: There is a widespread feeling in the United States, in France, in many western countries that Iran should have almost no enrichment capability, that it should instead get its enriched uranium from outside. You said in an interview with the Financial Times, Iran will absolutely retain its enrichment. Do you believe that it will be possible to bridge this gap by allowing Iran to have a small enrichment capacity, but for the most part to forego enrichment?

PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (through translator): Iran will not accept this. When it comes to nuclear technology, the Iranian people are very sensitive. It is a part of our national pride. And nuclear technology has become indigenous. And recently we have managed to secure very considerable prowess with regards to the fabrication of centrifuges.

So in the context of R&D and peaceful nuclear technology, we will not accept any limitations. And in accordance with much less or parliament law, in the future, we are going to need 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power. We are determined to provide for the nuclear fuel of such plants inside the country at the hands of local Iranian scientists. We are going to follow on this path.

ZAKARIA: So there will be no destruction of centrifuges -- of existing centrifuges?

ROUHANI: No. No. Not at all.


ZAKARIA: That was the president of Iran.

MALVEAUX: And, Fareed, I mean that's a very important distinction that he makes there. Obviously there's going to be a lot of back and forth and debate in terms of what kind of progress is made.

I want to turn the corner, talk again about something else that you addressed in your column on, also in "Time" magazine today. You called it the case for snooping. And you say that foreign surveillance is absolutely necessary. Tell us what the balance is here. Because a lot of people are looking at that and they think the NSA, the Obama administration, went too far in terms of its own spying, its own snooping on allies and neighbors and that kind of thing. But there is that pushback in that sense, that for need for privacy.

ZAKARIA: Here's the part I think people don't understand. The international context. So let me give you an example. The nuclear -- the National Nuclear Administration, that is the American agency, the government agency that oversees our own civilian nuclear energy program, gets 10 million cyber-attacks against it every day.


ZAKARIA: That's 3.65 billion every year. So now you say to yourself, OK, well, we need to defend against that, right? Well, we get these kind of cyber-attacks, not on that scale, but in your banks, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase. So you want to defend against those, right?

Well, the only way you can defend against those is for the NSA or some agency like it to be able to get into those systems in the first place. You cannot defend against cyber terrorism, cyber theft, cyber warfare without allowing the U.S. government some access to the telecom and computer systems.

We live in this cyber world and we think that somehow we -- it's like a government-free zone. It ain't. If you want freedom, just like in the real world, you're going to have to have police.


ZAKARIA: So that's the piece we need to understand. Of course you've got to draw some balances and put some constraints in, but if we want to defend ourselves, it's going to have to happen with some involvement of the government.

MALVEAUX: Yes, it's all about trade-offs. Fareed, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

I want our viewers to also know as well that Fareed's full interview with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, this weekend it will air on "Fareed Zakaria GPS." That is Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, then again at 1:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

And here's more of what we are working on, on AROUND THE WORLD.

Israel says it has broken up an al Qaeda plan to bomb the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.

And Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits he had a minor setback after video surfaced of him apparently drunk and babbling.


MALVEAUX: The political crisis in Ukraine has now entered a deadly new territory. At least four people are reportedly killed and hundreds injured in the latest fighting between anti-government demonstrators and police. There's a truce right now as opposition leaders are meeting with Ukraine's president.

Protesters, they've been demanding new elections since the president refused to sign an agreement with the European Union and adopted pro- Russian policies.

But the situation now has spiraled out of control since new laws went into effect that limit the right to protest.

More now from our Diana Magnay.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These demonstrations, for the time being, characterized more by noise than by violence, but there have been clashes overnight. One protester was shot dead, a very serious escalation in the violence.

Fury at the turn this day has taken. You have no right to kill him, this woman screams. In a makeshift hospital we learn that more have been killed. The doctors say that they had wounds to their chests, one of them shot directly in the head.

We don't know yet what with. It could have been plastic bullets. The prime minister says that the riot police are not equipped with live ammunition.

But plastic bullets fired into crowds are clearly dangerous enough, even if these crowds are brave and push back, no matter the consequences for those unlucky enough to end up in police hands.

We're wearing all of our protective gear not least because the protesters keep telling us the riot policemen don't care whether you're press or whether you're a protesters.

We've seen the evidence of that ourselves, video where riot policeman pointed a gun directly into the camera and fires.

At least 200 injured on the police side, also, the anger against them and the government who have banned all protesting feels universal.

Young and old brave the freezing cold. Lending a hand to the makeshift barricades, the makeshift weapons. This line of fire, burning tires, has formed a very effective barricade between the protesters and riot police who are lined up on the other side.

They've been pushing these burning fires further and further up the road, and as you can see now, they're getting their missiles ready, stones. We've seen them preparing and making Molotov cocktails to throw through the smoke at police.

The battleground of the most primitive kind, but still dangerous, still deadly, nonetheless.


MALVEAUX: Diana Magnay is in Kiev, and she joins us now.

The main thing is they want the government to hold new elections. Do we think that is something that's going to happen? Is that even realistic?

MAGNAY: Well, the president has shown no sign of being prepared to hold new elections any earlier than they are scheduled for, which is in March, next year. He's held pretty firm for the last two months, and he does not appear to be willing as far as the opposition leaders say who've been sitting in talks with him yesterday and today to consider that.

But the question is, what happens if he doesn't? The people are very, very angry, and this violence looks as though it is spiraling out of control, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Diana, we are hearing shouts in the background. I assume that those are protesters who are still out there late at night on the streets?

MAGNAY: There are thousands of protesters in Independence Square behind me. That is a man who is on the stage now speaking to them. There is also a separate area where we had all these clashes, which is about ten minutes away. They've erected barricades there too.

Suzanne, I just want to tell you one thing that we've learned from our reporting today, very serious allegations of torture by the police.

We talked to one 17-year-old boy who says he was just watching the protests. He was dragged away by police, beaten very, very badly, stabbed in the thigh with a knife. His arm is broken.

And we have some very disturbing video that has been circulating online of a man who was also stripped naked in detention behind police lines in this very, very cold weather and beaten by police. The interior ministry says that it is investigating that video and has issued an apology.

But Human Rights Watch, who we were also talking to today, said they do not think that these are isolated incidents. MALVEAUX: It is only getting worse there, Diana. Please be safe. Of course, we'll be following all the developments, the protesters and those accusations of torture now.

Thank you, Diana. Appreciate this.

We're following this, as well, at least three people dead. Up to 30 are missing now. This is after a fire broke out at a home for senior citizens in Quebec.

Police are afraid that some of those missing were trapped inside the building. They are hoping that some made it out and are with their families. You see the pictures there. It's just horrifying.

The fire broke out around midnight, burned for hours. We don't know how it started, ad part of that facility is set aside for assisted living, and some of the residents might have not been able to actually escape.

And a couple hours from now, NSA leaker Edward Snowden is going to answer some questions from the public. This is an online chat. They can be submitted on Twitter at #asksnowden.

Now, Snowden's responses are going to be posted on the website Snowden will almost certainly comment on a second NSA review that's due out today that has determined the massive collection of U.S. cell phone and e-mail records is not legal.

The privacy and civil liberties oversight board which advises the president dismissed NSA's data haul as useless in thwarting terrorism.

This next hour, the five-panel member says we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counter- terrorism investigation.

And Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he had, quote, "a minor setback" when he was apparently drunk in public Monday night.




MALVEAUX: It's just sad. The minute-long video, he's incoherent. He railed about Toronto police chief, other things, as well.

Asked about his bizarre behavior the next day, well, here's how he explained it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you drinking last night?

FORD: Yes, I was. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were drinking last night.

FORD: A little bit, yeah. I was with some friends and what I do in my personal life is between my personal friends.

So I speak with some of my friends.


MALVEAUX: Ford has admitted smoking crack in the past, but denies any drugs were involved in this latest incident.

A bond hearing set next hour in Miami, this is for the troubled teen idol Justin Bieber. You see the mug shot there. He was pulled over earlier this morning for racing his Lamborghini against a Ferrari. This is in Miami Beach. Police said that Bieber became combative, failed a field-sobriety test and then was arrested. Besides DUI, Bieber, 19-years-old, is also charged with resisting arrest and driving without a license.

And a cop killer from Mexico, put to death last night in Texas, could his execution affect Americans charged in other countries? That is a big debate that's going on right now. We're going to have that story, up next.


MALVEAUX: Texas has executed 509 people since 1976, but the latest has the international community talking and debating, raising concerns about how it could affect Americans overseas.

It was last night that Texas executed 46-year-old Edgar Tamayo. He was a Mexican national sent to death row for killing a Houston police officer back in 1994.

But the Mexican government claimed that the execution violated international law, and even the U.S. government cautioned against it.

Secretary of State John Kerry said, "I have no sympathy for anyone who would murder a police officer. This is a process issue I am raising because it could impact the way American citizens are treated in other countries."

I want to bring in our Pamela Brown to talk about this and discuss this here. What is Secretary Kerry talking about when he says the process?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, Kerry is referring to the international agreement under the Vienna convention that basically states a foreign national will be guaranteed counselor assistance to ensure the best defense possible.

In this case, Mexican officials contend Tamayo's case was tainted because he wasn't informed that he could get legal help from the Mexican consulate after his arrest, they allege, and they argue that, as a result of that. he wasn't given the best defense possible that could have prevented him from being put on death row.

Now, 10 years ago, Suzanne, the International Court of Justice ordered the review of Mr. Tamayo and 50 other Mexican officials whose rights were violated, the courts have said.

Kerry has said, as a result, not living up to the international obligation is extremely detrimental to the interests of the U.S.

MALVEAUX: So, Pamela, hasn't Texas executed Mexican nationals before where the same concerns essentially were raised?

BROWN: Right. So in 2008 and 2011 Texas executed two other Mexicans convicted of murder, Suzanne, and their cases actually raise similar claims.

Now, the Supreme Court refused to delay either of those executions and actually issued an opinion in the 2008 case saying that the hearings urged by the International Court in those inmate cases could only be if Congress implemented legislation to do so, which it hasn't done so yet.

And in Tamayo's execution, the Supreme Court denied a motion to halt the execution last night, and then shortly after that he was given the lethal injection in Texas.

MALVEAUX: So, Pamela, ultimately, how is it that this could impact Americans overseas?

BROWN: Well, it could have a profound impact on Americans overseas who are arrested, according to U.S. officials.

Basically I spoke to legal expert Paul Callan and he says it all depends on how far Mexico wants to take it.

Obviously, this could put a strain on diplomatic relations with Mexico, but also Mexico has economic interests at play here, as well.

So this could be just, you know, them talking about the fact that they're upset about the execution of Tamayo, but not actually, you know, putting those words into action when it comes to a U.S. citizen arrested abroad.

But they very well could mimic the actions of the U.S.