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CONNECT THE WORLD
World Shocked As Al Jazeera Journalists Found Guilty In Egypt; Disabled Boy Tied To Mumbai Bus Stop Symbol Of Broken System; OPCW Removes All Declared Chemical Agents From Syria; Interview with Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman; Group B, Group A Finish Play Today In World Cup Action
Aired June 23, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A critical moment for the future of Iraq -- the U.S. Secretary of State in Baghdad calling for unity as ISIS rebels
continue their assault across the country.
Also ahead, jail for journalists. An Egyptian court is facing international condemnation after sentencing al Jazeera staff to prison.
And the OPCW says it has removed the chemical weapons stockpile from Syria, but just how did they do it? I'll speak to one of the key
architects behind the operation.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Well, this story is in a moment. It is 7:00 here in the UAE. I want to update you first on a story that we have been following for
you in Sudan. A woman there sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her faith. Well, she has been freed. CNN is confirmed through her lawyer
that a court has ordered the release of Mariam Yeha Ibrahim (ph). She was condemned to be hanged after refusing to declare herself a Muslim, the
religion of her father.
He left the family when Ibrahim (ph) was young and she was raised a Christian. But Shariah Law considers her to be still a Muslim and does not
recognize her marriage to a Christian.
Again, CNN just learning that a women in Sudan sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her faith is now free.
More on that story, of course, as we get it.
Well, let's turn to Iraq this hour. America's top diplomat is trying to stem the tide of Sunni militants with political pressure on the Iraqi
This map for you highlighting the towns under the control of what is known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
Now most recently, the insurgents have taken control of what is a large swath of Iraqi territory in western and northern Iraq. Now U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki as well as both Shiite and Sunni leaders we are
told. He's calling for a more inclusive government that represents all Iraqi people.
Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson joining us live from Baghdad.
What he actually said to al-Maliki was rise about these sectarian motivations, as it were. What is the likelihood at this stage that
anything is going to change in Iraq in the near future?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Secretary Kerry did say that he got a commitment from Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister,
to halt the constitutional time line to begin forming a new government as of the first of July. The first issue is to appoint a speaker, then a
president and then following that about a month and a half later it will be appointing a prime minister. So he says he's committed to that.
It was a long meeting with Nuri al-Maliki, about an hour and 40 minutes. So clearly getting into items of substance. The prime minister
telling him of need of Iraqis for additional security help at the moment. Secretary Kerry (inaudible) that the United States remains committed to
Iraq and the Iraqi people and the agreements they have to continue a steady stream of -- a steady stream of military help and equipment coming to the
But perhaps overall the tone of this was very much that President Obama, Secretary Kerry said, was not going to wait necessarily for the
formation of the government to target ISIS. He reserves the right to target at any time when he's ready, such is the considered the threat of
ISIS to not only to Iraq's stability right now, but also to the region in the near future and the threat of ISIS terrorism going beyond that.
So, really the message here was two-fold. To all the politicians, keep to that constitutional time table, form a government fast, because
your problems are very immediate. But at the same time, we won't necessarily wait for it to start striking ISIS ourselves as we see fit.
That was the message, Becky.
All right. Well, we're going to have more on the battle for Iraq. Thank you, Nic.
Later on Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, we're going to take a look at the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq and how
the Peshmerga there are protecting their territory.
And we'll also talk to the former head of the Kurdistan Socialist Party about the future of the region. You'd be surprised to hear his
opinion, I think, about a united Iraq. That is coming up later on Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Well, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also condemned Egypt for handing down stiff prison sentences to three al Jazreera journalists. Have
a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES WATTS, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT: I'm sure my government will make its own statement about the outcome of this trial today. But for now,
I can say that of course we're deeply disappointed at the outcome.
From the start, we've had deep concerns about the process being applied to the trial. And we've conveyed those concerns to the Egyptian
authorities on separate occasions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: OK, clearly not John Kerry, one of the British spokesman. There are a number of journalists who have been involved in this trial,
some as you see in court today, some tried in absentia. Just hours ago, an Egyptian court found Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Bahar Mohammed guilty
of spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.
Rights groups and world leaders say they will keep pressure on Egypt to free the men. But for now, the journalists' only option seems to be an
Let's turn to our Iran Lee in Cairo.
And what is next at this point? I mean, due process to many people may seem like an oxymoron when we're talking about Egypt these days. But
what is the process that they face at this point?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I talked to the family members of the defendants, Becky, and they said that they are going to
appeal this verdict and Egypt has a long lengthy appeals process that can take months and over a year to carry out as well as they're going to talk
to the president of Egypt directly, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi asking him to pardon the defendants. And they say they hoped he will although we
aren't hearing anything from the president's office.
But they're all very much distraught and upset over this verdict. Going into the courtroom today talking to them, they were optimistic,
upbeat that they could be vindicated and found innocent. But that wouldn't be the case.
I talked to Peter Greste's brother, Michael, just outside the courthouse. This is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL GRESTE, PETER GRESTE'S BROTHER: We are at a bit of a loss for words. I am perplexed, flummoxed, disappointed. It's beyond our
comprehension, really, with just struggling to pick ourselves off the mat. But you know we're determined to continue to (inaudible) Peter's innocence
and we'll have to decide where we go to from here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: And Becky, really, a lot of the shock is around the lack of hard evidence in this case. Following it, we've seen the prosecution bring
forth little bits of evidence here and there.
Let me give you just kind of a brief rundown of some of the things we've seen from the prosecution. One thing is footage of a trotting horse
that was aired on Sky News Australia, a BBC podcast and a documentary on Somalia by the BBC, neither of this evidence pertains to Egypt or the
defendants, but the prosecution thought it was relevant and brought it forward and apparently they judges did too. And that's where we got the
seven year sentences for the journalists as well as Bahar Mohammed getting a 10 year sentence, three additional years because he had one live round of
ANDERSON: Ian Lee is in Cairo for you this evening.
Well, Israel's military says it has struck targets inside Syria in retaliation for an explosion that killed a teenager.
Now a spokesman for the Israeli military said air strikes hit nine Syrian military sites, including headquarters and launching positions. The
group monitoring -- or a monitoring group says 10 Syrian soldiers were killed.
Israel says it was firing back after an attack on a civilian vehicle in the Golan Heights on Sunday.
Ben Wedeman is in Ramallah with the very latest -- Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, that airstrike overnight was the result of this hit from the Syrian side of the
demarcation line in the Golan Heights where according to Israeli officials and anti-tank missile was fired from an area. It's not clear if it was
controlled by the rebels or controlled by the regime.
It's the first Israeli fatality since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in March of 2011 and Israeli officials consider it the most
serious incident so far.
As you said, they struck nine military targets inside Syria and according to the Syria Observation for Human Rights 10 soldiers were
killed, two tanks were hit as well.
Now just to give you a background so you're probably wondering what's behind me. We're in Ramallah where this is a demonstration in solidarity
with Palestinian prisoners, which has been a very hot topic recently, certainly since Israel has detained more than 400 Palestinians since the
12th of June kidnapping of those three Israeli teenagers.
And of course this demonstration also has an anti-Palestinian Authority tone as well, because of the anger among many Palestinians that
the Palestinian Authority is cooperating, coordinating, some say collaborating with the Israelis in this search -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman in Ramallah for you this evening.
Still to come tonight, did Syria remove all of its declared chemical weapons arsenal from its territory? We're going to hear from the watchdog
group in charge of overseeing that process. That's up next.
ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson out of the UAE at about quarter past 7:00 here.
The advance by the Sunni military group ISIS in northern Iraq stops at the border of the autonomous region of Kurdistan. That doesn't, though,
mean it's not trying.
Arwa Damon spoke to the commander of armed Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga who says they clashed with the militants after the Iraqi fled a
DAMON: 24 hours before we arrived south of Tutormatra (ph) ISIS had attacked, catching the Kurdish Peshmerga unit off guard. It won't happen
Peshmerga commander Colonel Hakim Karim Ahmed (ph) watched ISIS appear just an hour after the Iraqi army withdrew, casually staking their claim
without firing a single shot.
"That used to be with the army." He points out a two story building just a couple hundred meters away.
That's the ISIS flag right there.
Another planted on the water tower.
The battle lines drawn, but for over a week not crossed. Then came the ISIS assault.
"They came at us from three directions," Colonel Ahmed (ph) tells us. "The battle lasted for six hours."
In the distance, an Iraqi military vehicle commandeered by ISIS.
The intersection that this combat outpost is protecting is incredibly strategic. Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in that direction, to the
north the oil rich city of Kirkut, Soleimani (ph) in Iraqi Kurdistan to the east and then to the south a two hour drive, a straight shot to the
There were gunmen with them, people from the area, Colonel Ahmed (ph) remembers. It was ISIS fighters and also people from the tribes.
It's a murky, dangerous alliance, opening multiple fronts towards Baghdad and testing the Peshmerga's resolve in the north.
They had two casualties during the firefight, one of them happening right here, one of their commanders was killed. And he was just saying
that this is some of the blood stains. They're still here.
The Kurds, a population with a long and tormented history, vow they won't give up this land as ISIS and Sunni fighters carve out their
territory, the Kurds are making sure they stay out of theirs.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Salahideen (ph) Province, Iraq.
ANDERSON: I want to dig a little deeper into the future of Iraq and its Kurds in the northern areas. The area remained relatively safe and
stable despite the violence. The Peshmerga have succeed in protecting the region from advancing ISIS fighters.
So what's in the best interest of the region going forward independence or continue to be part of Iraq?
Well, joining me now from London is Mahmoud Othman. He's a veteran Kurdish politician and former head of the Kurdistan Socialist Party, now an
independent Iraqi MP.
Before we talk about what the future for the Kurdish area of Iraq is, what is the immediate future for the entire country hold at this point, do
MAHMOUD OTHMAN, FRM. HEAD OF KURDISTAN SOCIALIST PARTY: Well, I think the future of Iraq would be -- we take it from both sides political and
The political aspect -- I think there should be a formation of a government soon, a government of consensus between the blocs, the winning
blocs of course after the parliament convenes soon, and then there should be a prime minister -- one, we should add components agree, of course.
That's one of the main problem, because since 2010 there was a government. Everybody was in it, in parliament, government, but they were
always adversaries and problems and they never got together easily. They should have had at that time, a government of a majority and opposition in
Now there should be a government everybody should agree on.
And secondly, militarily, I think all of them should agree on fighting dash (ph), on fighting the terrorists, because terrorism is a danger to
everybody. But first they should settle the issue politically between themselves.
ANDERSON: OK. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been accused of following divisive policies in Iraq, of course. And some believe that's
fed the Sunni discontent that we're seeing today.
My colleague Ivan Watson first spoke with Iraq's former vice president, a man who of course clashed with Mr. Maliki and was accused of
targeting Shiite politicians earlier. Just have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you support this ISIS offensive.
TARIQ AL HASHEMI, FRM. IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT: Not definitely. First of all, in fact, ISIS is just part of the spectrum. They are not
representing the entire revolution. This revolution is a clear cut (inaudible) oppression. It's an Arab Sunni community revolt.
We do have a case. We reached a breaking point either to be or not to be, our existence, our identity, our dignity being threatened by Nuri al-
Maliki over years and especially after two years when the uprising started in six provinces and we achieved nothing.
So we reached a point that we have to go into a revolution and try to be -- to unfortunately switch from peaceful demonstrating, asking for
demands into -- into the force -- violence that we have no other option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Sir, many people, not least his own foreign minister imploring Maliki to form a unity government at this point, rise above
sectarian motivations. Others saying that the country should simply split up.
Now you offer (inaudible) that in the past has looked for independence as a semi-autonomous region. Is that what you are looking for, a
Balkanization of Iraq at this point?
OTHMAN: Well, I think of course have the right to self-determination in a state. But for the time being we are talking about Iraq. The
constitution should be implemented. It's a federal state. According to (inaudible) there should be federal regions in different areas according to
the constitution and people should have the right to run their local affairs. And there, there should be a federal government in Baghdad. If
they apply that and the constitution is fully applied, then that would create a sort of a situation in which everybody could live together and
there should be a peaceful existence and they could work together through parliament, through government through consensus, of course.
ANDERSON: So many people might be surprised to hear that you are still looking at a united Iraq.
We are talking here with Mr. Maliki about a man who was the compromise candidate who took power in 2006 after having lived in exile for nearly a
quarter of a century in Syria and Iran. He's failed to follow through on power sharing agreements in the past, refused to include prominent Sunni
leaders in his government. He's strained relations with the Kurds. I mean, what is the likelihood that this man is going to be prepared to run a
unity government, or play any part in a unity government going forward?
And I asked you again if that were not to be the case, this is a civil war in the making, surely.
OTHMAN: Well, surely the Sunnis are rising up in the areas. Kurds are unsatisfied. Inside the Shiites population there are differences.
That's why I think this government couldn't be a government of unity.
There should be a new government. And the prime minister, which will be elected by the Shiites, because they will elect somebody, a candidate,
it should be agreed on by the Sunnis, by the Kurds, by Turkmens, by everybody so that you can run the country. And that's to me seen very soon
after the parliament convenes and after the dialogue between the Iraqi political blocks, reach an agreement. That's the most important thing
Otherwise, if they cannot satisfy the Sunnis and then the Kurds and then the Shiites, then they -- that man, whoever it is -- he can't run the
country, he can't be a successful prime minister as we have seen in the past.
ANDERSON: Sir, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for your analysis.
I just want to get you back to one of the stories we were talking about at the top of this hour -- thank you, sir. The al Jazeera
journalists sentenced today in Egypt. Earlier, we played some of the sound for you which was from James Watts, the British ambassador to Egypt
expressing his government's disappointment with the verdict and plans to address the issue with Egypt's government.
Well, live from Abu Dhabi this is Connect the World.
Coming up, India's invisible, the shocking case of a boy with cerebral palsy who was tied to a poll while his grandmother went to work. The case
raising awareness of disability in one of the world's most populous countries.
ANDERSON: Well, it's the world's largest democracy, but there's one part of Indian society some are calling all but invisible: the disabled.
One shocking case is now, though, being brought to light. Mallika Kapur with the story.
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lakan Kali (ph) has cerebral palsy, is deaf and mute. he spent many days and nights tied to a
pole by this lady, Sakubai (ph). She's his grandmother.
This is a bus stop Lakan's (ph) grandmother used to tie him to. In fact, the rope she used you can see it's still here. She says she had to
do it, she had no choice.
"If I didn't tie him up, he'd wander off," she says. "He can't hear traffic coming. If he ran onto the road, he'd be killed."
She couldn't leave him at home, because this is where she lives -- the sidewalk.
She and others desperately poor like her sleep and eat here. All her belongings fit into these two bags.
Sakubai (ph) is Lakan's (ph) only caretaker. His father is dead. His mother deserted the family. The grandmother says no one came forward to
help, not even the VIPs who pass this way every day, she says.
The bus stop is a stone's throw away from Mumbai's main government office.
Last month, these pictures appeared in a local newspaper, and the local police took Lakan (ph) to this social worker.
MEENA MUTHA, MANEV FOUNDATION: When I saw him first I did feel he needs help. He needs a home.
KAPUR: She took him to this government home. We were not allowed to film inside.
Across Mumbai, there are many children with special needs without access to resources faced with the same stigma.
In Taraviya (ph) slum, we meet 12-year-old Abdel Razak (ph). He suffers from a severe case of cerebral palsy.
When his mother goes to work, sometimes she locks him inside their home.
Dr. Shabnam Rangwala says addressing the needs of the disabled is not a priority for the government.
SHABNAM RANGWALA, ADAPT: We just need to do a lot of implementation of our policies. They are there on paper and on rhetoric, but in reality
they're not getting translated. Disability is being left out.
KAPUR: In a heaving city of nearly 20 million people, children like Abdel (ph) and Lakan (ph) are almost invisible.
Lakan's (ph) grandmother says, "I miss him. But if I die tomorrow, at least he has a roof over his head."
That's more than she could give him on the sidewalk.
Mallika Kapur, CNN, Mumbai.
ANDERSON: Well, your latest world news headlines are just ahead.
Plus, an Egyptian court hands down stiff prison sentences for three international journalists. We're going to take a look at how this
conviction could affect how journalists report inside Egypt.
And the last of Syria's declared chemical weapons materials are loaded onto a ship. Did the Damascus authorities meet the deadline? Details up
ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Baghdad for meetings with Sunni and Shia government officials. This comes as Sunni militants gain
more territory on their way to Baghdad. Kerry is pressing Iraqi leaders to rise above religious or ethnic divisions.
Well, a court in Sudan has ordered the release of a woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her faith. Mariam Yeha Ibrahim (ph), raised
a Christian, was condemned to be hanged after refusing to declare herself a Muslim, the religion of her father. Shariah law considered her to still be
a Muslim. Her lawyer says she's already been returned to her husband, or reunited with her husband.
Well, a number of world leaders are condemning the convictions of three al Jazeera journalists in Egypt. They were found guilty of reporting
false information and aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Three men deny the charges. They're expected to appeal the sentences.
Israel's military has confirmed that it struck targets inside Syria in retaliation for an explosion in the Golan Heights that killed a teenager.
A spokesman for the Israeli military said air strikes hit nine Syrian military sites, including headquarters and launching positions.
Well, a watchdog group in charge of overseeing the destruction of Syria's acknowledged chemical weapons stockpile says, and I quote, now all
chemical weapons material that Syria declared has been removed.
Damascus agreed to have its chemical weapons stockpile destroyed as part of a deal reached with the U.S. and Russia. The Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons with the UN agreed to monitor the project.
Now Syria blames problems with security for missing several deadlines.
Well, let's get more on this announcement. Sigrid Kaag joins us now from Nikasiya (ph) in Cyprus. She's the head of the joint UN mission with
the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons.
I want you to clarify something for me, is this as far as you are concerned mission accomplished?
SIGRID KAAG, ORGANIZATION FOR THE PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS: No, the job isn't done yet, but what has been important is that 100 percent
of Syria's declared chemical weapons material is now out of country, and what was destroyed in country has been destroyed.
It was a big milestone. The job from the join mission is not yet done, because we're still working with the Syrians on two areas, what we
call now residual activities, which is fine tuning, revisiting the declaration based on some -- some anomalies, some clarifications that are
needed and that were identified in the progress of our work together. And the second area is agreement on the destruction methodology for tunnels and
But de facto, most and almost all of Syria's declared chemical weapons program in its entirety is no more. And that, in itself, of course is a
big milestone for the international community, but we also hope in a very modest way when looking at the human tragedy in Syria for the people of
Syria and the region.
ANDERSON: Right. And we should at this point applaud the staff working in very demanding and trying circumstances there to achieve what
has been achieved to date.
Can you just very briefly describe the work that they were carrying out?
KAAG: Yes. No, thanks very much, Becky, for really pointing to that.
My big commendation goes first and foremost to our national staff who take great risks even to turn up in the office, who have to travel
throughout the country. They accompany us. They sort of enjoy us and endure us, I hope.
Basically it's going to site visits, is being exposed to chemical weapons material, it is verification, sampling, it is conducting road
missions wherever in country wherever it takes. And for most of the staff of the joint mission being in country nine months sort of relentlessly,
full dedication, commitment in order to get the job done.
The time frame, as you know, was also unprecedented, and the conditions are without equal.
ANDERSON: Now, John Kerry has just spoken in Iraq. He's doing a tour of the region. Clearly there are stories roiling all over this region. He
talked about the chemical weapons leaving Syria and noted, and I quote him here, "that as we mark the moment of removing these weapons, we understand
our work is not finished," he said. There are still, and I quote, "serious issues remaining, including the reported use of chlorine gas on people."
So, correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I understand, the facilities that were used to produce these weapons do still exist, so who
is to say that the Syrians don't still have the capability to produce new weapons?
KAAG: Well, there's a distinction between the work that is being carried out by the fact finding mission looking at the allegations of use
of chlorine gas. They've issued a preliminary report.
In terms of the overall declared chemical weapons program, those facilities have been destroyed. We've verified that. They've been
inspected. It's been reported on.
I think it's very important as also the secretary-general has noted from the outset that any allegations of use is properly investigated and
then obviously that due process has to follow.
But the fact finding mission is fully in charge of that. And they are still continuing their work from The Hague.
ANDERSON: Sigrid, removing chemical weapons material is one thing, actually destroying it, of course, is a much different story. I visited
while I was in London recently a chemical lab at the University College of London to find out about the process of actually destroying these weapons.
I want our viewers to just get a sense of that. So hold on for a minute while we play just a little bit out of that interview that I
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To destroy these things, what you really need to do is to tear them apart. And to do that, what we need to do is to use the
same chemistry, interestingly, as you would use to make a bar of soap.
When you make soap, you talk olive oil, or alternative you take bacon fat or animal fat, and you combine it with caustic soda, or lye, and you
essentially dissolve that into warm water. That's what you're going to use to actually destroy your chemical weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Right. These chemical weapons that have now left the country will be, what, on boats in other countries and they will at this
stage and going forward be destroyed.
How tough is that job?
KAAG: Well, I can't comment it from a technical perspective, but I think the explanation you just got has got it down to a tee. It's done by
means of hydrolysis aboard the U.S. Cape Ray (ph), especially fitted for that purpose. It takes about 60 days, so it gives you a sense of I think
the complication nonetheless. Even the technology has been tested, it is known and there's careful preparation has been undertaken. And it's done
with all due regard for safety, security and of course environmental health.
So, I think it's not an easy job, but it's doable, otherwise also the U.S. would not have offered. And they are very confident that it will be
done in the proper way.
OPCW inspectors will be there to make sure it is done in the correct way and also in line with the convention.
We've heard from John Kerry today. And I say -- I've quoted here there are serious issues remaining, as he says, including reported use of
chlorine gas on people in Damascus.
So take me back inside the country. What sort of cooperation have you had from the Damascus authorities? And what do you expect for this next
stage going forward on the ground?
KAAG: No, I think from the outset of the mission we've been able to speak to constructive cooperation and that hasn't changed. When it comes
to supporting country, meeting our requests, clarification and also I would say through the ups and downs of any mission when the going wasn't as good
as was initially planned or foreseen, when pressures had to be exercised. It's always been constructive and we've been able to get the job done with
At the end of the day, it is always the state party, in this case also the Syrian Arab Republic, that had to do the bulk of the lifting so to
speak in country. We've been there to assist, to verify and inspect.
Now what I anticipate, I don't speculate. I think we build on the cooperation that has been established. I think what we need to achieve is
very clear. And I think it's not wise to speculate on possible difficulties. It's challenging, regardless. This is a country at war. The
region is facing very difficult times and we just need to focus on our goals.
ANDERSON: Sigrid, it's always a pleasure. We thank you very much indeed for joining us today on what is a pretty significant day for your
organization and indeed for the people of Syria. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
Still ahead, jailed for doing their job, three al Jazeera journalists are convicted in Egypt. We ask what this means for the profession that I'm
in -- freedom of speech as a whole: freedom of the press, freedom of speech, that's next.
ANDERSON: The families of three al Jazeera journalists are still in shock after an Egyptian court sentenced them to up to ten years in prison.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Bahar Mohammed have been jailed since December on charges of false reporting and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.
But at least one rights group suspects Egypt is using the charges as a way to get back at one of its rivals, that being Qatar.
Now you see al Jazeera is based in the emirate, which also has links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Well, Egypt has come under scrutiny for its treatment of journalists since President Mohamed Morsy was ousted last year.
Lina Attalah is the chief editor for Mada Masr in Egypt. She joins me now from Cairo.
Much talk today on the back of this court case and these convictions and these jail sentences that it is impossible to be a functioning
journalist in Egypt. Is that true?
Lina, can you hear me?
LINA ATTALAH, MADA MASR: Yeah, I can hear you.
ANDERSON: Yeah, good, OK. Carry on. I was asking you what it's like reporting in Egypt today.
ATTALAH: Yeah, definitely today's verdict sets a precedent on what kind of restrictions journalists will be facing in the future in Egypt.
You haven't seen anything like that before. Egypt has seen a set of restrictions on journalistic practice in the last decade both before the
revolution and after the revolution, but definitely this verdict set s a whole new precedent criminalizing a very basic (inaudible) practice, the
kind of thing that today's defendants were charged with is basically the kind of thing that we're doing every day -- filming, interviewing people,
reporting about stories.
So definitely everyone feels, everyone who is involved in the journalistic practice both local and international in Egypt today feels
extremely touched and affected by what happens.
ANDERSON: I was reading your reporting, or your organization's reporting on these convictions as they hit the wires, as it were, earlier
on today. And you, for example, called this a harsh sentence.
But even using the term harsh sentence, does it worry you that you will be under more pressure going forward? I'm trying to get a sense on
the ground of just how much pressure there really is at this point, for example, compared to a year or so ago?
ATTALAH: Definitely when we heard the sentence, the first thing that came to mind is, of course, we see it very strongly for our colleagues who
are behind bars today, but also the first thing we thought of is what we will be doing, how would it be possible for us to carry on and do this job,
particularly at a time when a local independent news organization is anything but tolerated in Egypt.
However, by no means what happened today is going to really deter us from doing our jobs in the sense that we have no other option but doing the
job the way we do it all the time. And basically just to come to the circumstances.
I feel that even though today's verdict shook us to a great extent, I doubt to be honest, how it would deter us from actually doing the kind of
reporting that we're accustomed to doing, except that we know that why we're doing it now the price may be much -- more costly than before.
Now there is a chance of this conviction, or these convictions being overturned on appeal. There is also a chance of a presidential pardon. I
wonder what you think the prospects for either of those are and how this is being reported in Egypt by the state press. Can you describe it?
I mean, if (inaudible) being reported at this point?
ATTALAH; Basically in terms of the anticipation for the verdict being overturned, it's really hard to anticipate, because there is a level of
unpredictability when the whole judicial process is completely and profoundly flawed.
So if we're talking about a possibility of an appeal or a possibility of a presidential pardon that's basically the product of some political
machinations that are completely untransparent to us as journalists. So it's very hard to anticipate the extent to which this ruling may be
overturned. It seems that Egypt is not -- or the Egyptian administration is not intimidated at all, or deterred at all by the amount of
international pressure that has been posed by the international coverage that this ruling, or this court case in general has been receiving.
In terms of how it has been covered in the local press, basically the local press -- sorry.
ANDERSON: Go on. Go on. Carry on.
ATTALAH: Oh -- so, the local press -- in terms of the local press coverage, basically the local press (inaudible) the state media and the
privately owned media have basically adopted the state narrative when it comes to this case by calling it actually the (inaudible) the way it was
(inaudible) or the way it was labeled by the judiciary and by the state media from the beginning of the case, which in and of itself incriminates
the defendants before the case was being heard to the judges and before it was investigated.
And basically there is no questioning whatsoever of the process that was actually made public from the beginning, in terms of the evidence, in
terms of the hearings, in terms of the investigation. So nothing of these things were mentioned was criticism from the local media. The local media
is just reporting on the news as if it's the judiciary reporting on its own verdict.
So, the press coverage -- the local press coverage has been quite partial to the state on this case as part of (inaudible) against the Muslim
Brotherhood and what is the need to be a case of defendants affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood and a network that is affiliated to the Muslim
Brotherhood, which is quite unfortunate.
ANDERSON: With that, we're going to leave it there. It's very difficult for our viewers to hear you with the noise of Cairo in the
background, but we thank you very much indeed for joining us and making such valid points. Thank you.
Coming up on Connect the World with me Becky Anderson, we're going to go to Brazil to see how local artists are making their mark on what is the
World Cup. Thank next.
ANDERSON: Well, it was playing out like an American dream at the World Cup on Sunday when this goal from Clint Dempsey put the U.S. ahead 2-
1 against Portugal. But just when it looked like the European giants were on their way out, this man, Christiano Ronaldo crossed to Varela to head
the equalizer with just seconds to spare literally. His goal in the 95th minute means it's all to play for in Group G.
Well, that is Jurgen Klinsmann who is German, but is the coach of the U.S. team. We're only halfway through this World Cup and there has already
been enough drama to last another four years.
World Sport's Don Riddell is at CNN Center with more, because clearly after that match, which disappointed so many in the U.S. and delighted so
many on I guess this side of the pond, I used to say in London, but, you know, in Europe. And fantastic. I mean, here the fans are just supporting
whoever is playing great football here in the UAE.
Listen, tonight, let's move on. More to come.
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. I mean, you say tonight. It's actually just in about five minutes time that we're
going to have the final games played in Group B.
This is actually quite a straightforward group to figure out what's going to happen. Some of them, i.e. the USA's group are very complicated.
But this is how things stand in group B, Becky. We already know that Australia and a very disappointing Spain, the defending World Champions,
are out of this tournament. They are playing in a dead rubber (ph). The way Spain have been playing I would actually fancy Australia to get
something out of that game, which would really complete Spain's humiliation.
The Netherlands and Chile will go head to head to determine who goes through as group winners in Group B. A draw in that game would give the
Dutch the win.
And then in a few hour's time we've got Group A. Brazil playing Cameroon -- you'd expect them to win that game and go through from Group A
as group winners.
ANDERSON: Nice one. Thank you.
And tonight's parting shots, then, away from the matches the World Cup has been the inspiration for some colorful street art. Fred Pleitgen shows
us how local artists are showing off their passion for painting and football.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Far away from the glamorous World Cup stadiums, the soccer tournament is inspiration for
street art. Spray painters are customizing 20 giant footballs that will be shipped to cities across Brazil.
We caught up with curator and artist icon Marcelo Ment.
MARCELO MENT, GRAFFITI ARTIST: They tried to get some element of (inaudible), you know, some (inaudible) elements or some nature elements.
And for sure use bright colors and show some positive to people that goes to see the ball.
PLEITGEN: The project is called (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) "Energy To Cheer" and it showcases the color and the diversity of the World
Cup's host nation. The artists have very different styles. And while we were there, we got the curators to do a little art work for us.
Masio (ph) has agreed to spay paint one of our pelican cases, which is something that a company does on all our shoots. And he's going to make a
customized one for CNN and the World Cup.
Thank you very much, sir. And I look forward to it.
Colorful and with a Brazilian flavor true to the exhibition's motto.
We have our personalized CNN flight case. It's going to be the envy of all the CNN crews in the world. Now we can't wait to take it to Syria
But there's also a serious side to all of this. Many don't feel the games are for everyone with ticket prices out of reach for many here.
MENT: We have a horrible system of politics. People think it's normal. It's still make advantage from you in some way, you know. That's
not normal, you know.
PLEITGEN: In the midst of all the World Cup hype, this project looks to take this country's passion for football and merge it with grass roots
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. I'm going watch some football.