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Wildfire in Southern France; U.S House of Representative Agree to Sanctions For North Korea, Iran and Russia; Cardinal George Pell Hearing in Melbourne; North Korean Warning Statement to U.S. Aired 3- 4a Aired 3-4a ET
Aired July 26, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating wildfires are raging across Europe in the summer heat as tourist from all over they were on holiday. Now thousands are being evacuated.
Donald Trump is souring on the attorney general and his legislative agenda haphazardly advances through Congress.
And later, a top adviser for Pope Francis is in Australia for his day in court for charges of historical sexual assault offenses.
Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Max Foster, and this is CNN Newsroom.
We begin in the south of France, where raging wildfires have prompted mass evacuations. Authorities say at least 10,000 people have left Bormes-les-Mimosas after a new wildfire broke out on Tuesday night. Crews are already tackling several fires that spark in and around the French Riviera from earlier this week. Hundreds of hectares have burned so far in the western Portugal, fires burned into the night.
Portuguese media report that two wildfires force authorities to evacuate 10 villages near the town of Macau.
Alina -- Lisa Minot joins us now from southern France. She's a travel editor for The Sun. Just describe what it's like there, Lisa.
LISA MINOT. TRAVEL EDITOR, THE SUN: Well, there's a lot of very exhausted people sitting on the beach now, waiting to be told when they can go back to the camp site. We were evacuated at about 2 o'clock this morning when we could see the flames, a huge orange glow in the sky above our camp site. And we've had to remain on the beach ever since. It's been quite terrifying.
FOSTER: You know, these fires aren't uncommon, but it does feel as if they're out of control this year. How would you describe the extent of the fires?
MINOT: I think it's been made worse this year because obviously the fires has been very strong. These are the winds that they get every year in the south of France in the summer and we had monsoon winds went for three days. And when you have these monsoon winds, they're huge gusts and the wind changes direction very quickly. And that means that the firefighters can't anticipate where the fire's going to go next.
And it's meant that obviously a very dry atmosphere as well, not much rain recently, and it's a heavily wooded area. The camp site is full of pine trees. The pine trees has been falling to the floor for the last few days because it's been so windy with the pine needles and we've already heard the two camp sites near to where our camp site is, have already been destroyed.
FOSTER: So you're just being left on the beach until they know whether or not they can control the fire going towards the camp site?
MINOT: Yes, that's right. We were told about now going to the next hour is critical, and that we were to remain on the beach. We haven't had any information. But to be honest, the information has been a bit scarce all night, but I think that's mainly because they just don't know what's going to be happening.
We're sitting on the beach. It should be a bright, blue sunny day, there's a clear sky but the ball of smoke that's still hanging over the sky from the fire that raise through the night means that the sun is almost, it obliterated in the sky. And there's a lot of very, very tired people on the beach here.
FOSTER: And this is the busiest time of year, isn't it, for that area?
MINOT: That's right.
FOSTER: People come from all over Europe down there?
MINOT: Yes. Camp sites like this are full this time of year, we've got tourists here from Britain, but also from Holland, France, from Germany, and all of (Inaudible) trying to make the best of it as we can. We've been basically giving out tea and coffee to people, because we're lucky to have friends here. We have for people here off the beach. So we took in a lot of the children at 2 o'clock this morning as they down onto the beach.
We took the children and tried to get them some shelter in the caravan and chairs to sit on, and tea and coffee for the families. But it's been a very, very long night.
FOSTER: OK, Lisa, wish you well. Thank you for joining us. Hoping you get back to the camp site soon.
Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is now with us, because you've been looking at what causes and also what happens next.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right. So we take a look again at the overall expense in the fires. Here is your map of Europe in general. We zoom in again to that southern France, along the coast. Again, you've St. Tropez here, Marseilles over here and again, you got several areas of fires kind of dotting this region, but it's not just in France. That's the thing, all of southern Europe, we've been looking at some
fires around Italy, fires into Portugal, fires into so many regions into the south. Because this is where we've been having the problems.
And, yes, as she mentioned, winds have been a huge factor with a lot of these fires, not necessarily triggering them, per se, but allowing them to expand incredibly quickly. So the forecast wind gusts as we go into the day, Wednesday, Thursday, and into Friday, notice the winds really starts to increase especially between that central bay in Marseilles area, again, we're talking 30 to 40 kilometer per hour wind gusts.
[03:04:59] That may not necessarily seem like huge numbers for you, but it's enough to take some of the current fires and spread them very quickly, which unfortunately it's not what the firefighters need at this point.
We've also been watching some of the fires over in Portugal. Most of the big ones are just to the north and east of the Lisbon area. Again, notice along the coastline and starting to spread inland, we're also starting to see an increase of those winds, this one of the images coming to us out of Portugal.
Again, the flames, they are trying their best to contain these fires as they can here. Taking a look at some NASA imagery, you can actually see some of the smoke into portions of Spain and also into Portugal.
Now here's a look at the forecast. We have rain in the forecast, at least for Italy in terms of where some of the fires have been, but the real heavy rain is going to stay well off to the north and east, away from the areas that desperately need to see it.
Again, you can see the heavy rain off to the north, some of it may trickle into portions of Italy, where they're experiencing some fires over the last couple days. But areas of southern France, areas of Portugal, southern Spain, even Croatia, where they have been experiencing fires than they desperately need to see it, those are not the areas that are going to get it.
We've talked about the Italian drought that has been ongoing in some parts for as much as the last two years. We are 80 percent below average for rainfall. This has been huge in terms of agricultural losses, which have been estimated at about 2 billion euros, or about $2.3 million U.S.
Again, his is an image coming out of Corsica. You can see the flames off in the background. And again, here's a look at Italy. The other side of it, not just the fires, but the lake levels being incredibly low.
So, Max, it's kind of both sides. You know, this is a huge tourist season right now. Not only are they having to contend with the fires, but also, the fact that a lot of the lakes are much lower than they normally would be this time of year.
FOSTER: Allison, thank you. We'll keep an eye on that of course. Now, even by the new normal standards of the Trump White House, Tuesday was an exceptionally busy day in Washington in a wide ranging interview for the Wall Street Journal. Donald Trump blamed Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russia probe for the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
When asked whether Mr. Mueller's job is safe, Mr. Trump responded, "I have no comment yet, because it's too early, but we'll see. We're going to see." He made a similar comment in the Rose Garden about Sessions' future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should not have recused himself. Almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have quite simply picked somebody else. I told you before, I'm very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: The president also downplayed Sessions' early support of his candidacy, saying it was all about the crowds Mr. Trump was attracting. He looks at the 40,000 people and he probably says, "what do I have to lose?" So it's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.
But republican lawmakers are stepping up to defend Sessions and sources say White House officials are urging the president to stop the criticism.
And on Iran, Mr. Trump said he believes the country will be judged not compliant with the 2015 nuclear deal and he's prepared to overrule his own advisers. He said, "We've been extremely nice to them, saying, they were compliant. If it was up to me, I would have had them -- I would have had them non-compliant 180 days ago."
President Trump discussed the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare as well, saying "The trouble with straight repeal is, you'll have millions of people out there that will say, well, you know, how do we know we're going to have to -- we're going to have healthcare? And I hate to do that to people. So I'd rather see replace. I'd rather add the replace. And we have a very good plan."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're now one step closer to liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare. And delivering great healthcare for the American people. We're going to do that too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Although the Senate did vote to hold a floor debate on healthcare Tuesday, it rejected a republican proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare.
One of the central figures in the Russia investigation is avoiding testifying in public at least for now. The U.S. Senate judiciary committee has dropped its subpoena to force Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to appear at a public hearing on Wednesday. Instead, Manafort provided documents to the committee and has agreed to be interviewed in the future.
He also met in private on Tuesday with a different Senate panel. He addressed a meeting he attended during the campaign with a Russian lawyer, promising compromising information about Hillary Clinton.
[03:10:00] Leslie Vinjamuri joins me now. She is a senior lecturer of international relations at the University of London. Quite a lot of information there.
LESLIE VINJAMURI, SENIOR LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: There's a lot out there.
FOSTER: What stands out to you today?
VINJAMURI: Well, there's clearly a big push in Washington and from the White House to try and accomplish something. Remember that Donald Trump is past the six months' point, coming up to August holidays, it's not quite clear where to go.
The White House is, of course, there's a hovering of the Russia investigation, this question of Sessions. But of course, Donald Trump still wants to be able to demonstrate that he's achieved something. The first thing he's wanted to achieve is to repeal and replace. So moving that forward.
But he's in a tricky position, if you think about Sessions, because he's wanted to play to his base. And Jeff Sessions has been critical to his base, to many of his core policies, taking a tough line on immigration, taking a tough line on crime, and Sessions has done these things.
And in fact, for many people, the most honorable thing that Sessions did was to recuse himself from these investigations and it's the one thing that he's being attacked for by the president. So, I think Trump is looking for a win but it's not clear where he's going to find it at this point.
VINJAMURI: He gets the sort of discussion going on healthcare, but then of course he immediately loses in terms of, you know, how are we going to replace it. And it's not at all clear that will be successful in the next few days.
FOSTER: What do you think he's doing with the Sessions narrative, as it were? Because he's obviously building up to something here. Is he testing the water to see if it's OK for him to fire him? What do you think, he's actually just building up to fire him?
VINJAMURI: Or perhaps he's looking for a resignation from Sessions, which doesn't seem like it's going to be forthcoming. It looks like they'll come to a head, a resolution. There's been talks of whether they can get together and resolve this. It doesn't look likely.
But it seems to be the case that what the president really wants to do is to try and control these investigations. They're getting close to his family. He takes family loyalty very seriously. We know this. And it's been a huge distraction, something that takes very personally.
So, moving Sessions aside and getting some control over the Justice Department and over Mueller and over the broader investigation, this is deeply problematic, but this is clearly what the president feels that he needs to do, in order to have some control over his ability to govern going forward, because this is -- this is really the big distraction that's kept him from, in his mind, I think achieving tax reform, right?
He's now said he wants to move forward with reforming the tax code, incredibly complicated, no clear plan. But again, another one of his big ticket item starting out that there's been no progress on. So, again, I think he's just trying to clear House if he can. But it's coming to a head, and it doesn't play well again because Sessions is actually very popular with many people in the space and have support on in Congress.
FOSTER: And he can't get rid of the investigation, can he?
FOSTER: Can he replace Mueller?
VINJAMURI: Well, this is, you know, this is a question that many people are asking. Can he -- can he actually try to get rid of Mueller? Legally perhaps, but politically, think about how that would play, right? To get rid of the special counsel that's been appointed to look after an investigation of Russia's interference, right? Which should be at the heart of America's democracy, protecting the electoral process.
And to then get rid of that person that's been given the ability to really look into that, very damaging politically. But clearly, this is the direction that he's thinking about, right? How does he gain control of those investigations? He's got people set up in the White House looking after this, and he wants to have some degree of control. Very difficult to do. Not clear what's going to happen.
FOSTER: And that is to say, he's trying to deal with Obamacare at the same time. He's so crucial in terms of what he promised the American people. Just explain where we are with that. Because last week, we were told it was dead.
FOSTER: But it's not quite dead, right? VINJAMURI: Well, I mean, remember that in the Senate, a lot of this
has taken place behind closed doors, and then suddenly we're looking at a vote last night where people weren't even sure what they were voting on.
McCain comes back, makes a very passionate speech, saying, we must work together, even if we're not -- we don't know what we're going to do. We have to at least agree to discuss this.
The interesting thing here of course, is that over the course of the Trump presidency, what we're seeing in the polls is that the public support for the Affordable Care Act, for Obamacare, has actually grown. It hasn't...
FOSTER: Amongst republicans?
VINJAMURI: Amongst republicans. And that's partly because the numbers that are coming out are suggesting that 20 million-plus people stand to lose their healthcare. And of course, at the heart of the debate is the expansion of Medicaid, so aid for medical care for those with less income.
It's crucial and at risk in these proposals, in these proposed reforms. So it's very controversial. It's unclear which if any of these plans will actually get any support in the Senate. And so the president once again stands to lose, potentially, in a very significant and very public way. If that happens, that will go very badly.
FOSTER: OK, Leslie, thank you very much, indeed. Leslie there for joining us.
VINJAMURI: Thank you.
FOSTER: The White House is reviewing a new sanctions bill as well, targeting Russia, North Korea and Iran. The measure passed with overwhelming support in the White House -- in the House of Representatives, rather, on Tuesday. It blocks any effort by the White House to weaken sanctions on Russia.
[03:14:57] Russian sanctions target banks, oil, and defense. They're in response to the 2014 annexation of Crimea, as well as interfering in the U.S. election. And sanctions against Iran were imposed in response to its ballistic missile tests and human rights abuses.
And North Korea sanctions target the country's shipping industry and goods produced by forced labor and their punishment for the multiple nuclear tests carried out by Pyongyang.
We've got team coverage following the story for you. CNN's Clare Sebastian joins us now from Moscow. And our Will Ripley is live for us in Seoul, South Korea. Let's start, though, with you, Clare. Any response on this today? CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, we've
heard in recent days from the Kremlin that they find this, they view this extremely negatively, they find it counterproductive and harmful.
Today we're hearing from several information of Russian lawmakers, one in particular, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign relations committee in the upper House of parliament, the federation counsel. Now he is coming out with a list, the long statement on his face that they have a list of what he thinks Russia should do about this.
The first thing he says is, stay calm, don't panic because the bill hasn't been signed yet. The second one, I just want to read you a quote from him, he says, "Prepare a reaction, because there must be one. Asymmetrical, but painful for the Americans."
So, it's clear Russia is ready to retaliate to this we certainly have heard hints dropped on that in recent weeks. He goes on to say that that retaliation would not just be for this latest round of sanctions, but for previous actions including the confiscation in December of two of Russia's diplomatic compounds in the United States and the expulsion of 35 of its diplomats.
You'll remember at the time Russia didn't retaliate, something then- President-elect Trump called a very smart move. But you really get the sense here now that their patience is running out and that they are ready to adopt a more defensive posture.
Having said that, the official reaction today is more measured. We heard from the deputy foreign minister talking to a Russian state news agency, TASS, he said that while this bill is quite a serious step towards destroying the prospects of normalizing relations with Russia, they are still ready to look for areas that they can work together with the United States and find compromise, Max. So, a variety of reactions, but certainly this is something that Russia is watching extremely closely.
FOSTER: OK, Clare, thank you. Will Ripley is in Seoul in South Korea. When it comes to sanctions against North Korea, there wasn't really much to work with here, was there? Will it make a big impact?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT CNN: It's already such a heavily sanctioned economy, Max. If you think there have been six rounds of progressively harsher sanctions and they have done little to slow North Korea's missile testing. They tested an ICBM on the Fourth of July, and their economy grew by 4 percent last year, largely because of trade with China despite sanctions.
And I witnessed some of that growth because I was in the country just last month, especially in the capital, Pyongyang, people's living standards continue to increase, they actually have more electricity, more consumer goods. Out in the countryside, much less different story, much less infrastructure, but nonetheless, the government continues to provide for certainly the privileged citizens in the country and they continue to develop and test these weapons.
And there are indications, Max, they could be preparing for another missile launch tomorrow, Thursday the 27th of July. It would be certainly a possible day for them to do that. It's the marking of the Armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953. It's a major holiday in North Korea. Intelligence has shown that there have been missile components being brought to a launch site.
And then of course also, there is the North Korea fury over those comments by the CIA director in the United States, Mike Pompeo, saying that the United States hopes for regime change and even saying that the North Korean people would hope for their supreme leader Kim Jong- un to be ousted from power.
That drew a very strong response from Pyongyang state media, promising a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the mainland United States. And analysts believe they are getting closer to their goal of having a missile, a nuclear tip warhead capable of delivering a nuclear bomb to the United States, the mainland possibly within a year, Max.
FOSTER: OK. Will in Seoul, Clare in Moscow, thank you both very much indeed. Coming up, one of Pope Francis's most trusted advisers is facing
multiple charges in Australia. Cardinal George Pell at a court just a short while ago, and we have details for you next.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
FOSTER: A close adviser to Pope Francis plans to plead not guilty to multiple charges of historical sexual offenses. Cardinal George Pell appeared at a hearing at the magistrate's court in Melbourne, Australia just a few hours ago. His next court date is October 6th.
Our Anna Coren is at the court, CNN's Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher is in Rome. Anna, first to you.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, extraordinary scenes here earlier today outside Melbourne magistrates court, when Cardinal George Pell walked from his lawyer's offices about a hundred meters from where we are, up the steps of the Melbourne magistrates court, in through security.
He was whisked away into a private meeting room, before being taken into the small courtroom packed with journalists. Obviously those scenes of him walking into the courtroom, he was flanked by police who were protecting him against the media scrum.
People here in Australia say they haven't seen anything quite like it. The level of intensity really just surprised so many. But at the end of the day, this is one of the most powerful people at the Vatican, who was here to face charges of multiple historical sexual assault offenses.
Now, Max, he didn't have to be here today. This was a preliminary, routine hearing. But as one of the pope's closest advisers, Cardinal Pell knew what he had to appear in the hope of fighting for his innocence, fighting for his reputation, and obviously fighting for his survival.
COREN: For decades, George Pell has been a senior figure in the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, an institution which has been mired by sexual abuse allegations for many years.
But after a two-year investigation by Australian police, the 76-year- old cardinal himself was charged in June with multiple sexual assault offenses. Sending shockwaves through the Vatican and around the world.
SHANE PATTON, VICTORIA POLICE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: Today Victoria police have charged Cardinal George Pell with historical sexual assault offenses. Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect to historic sexual offenses and there are multiple complainants.
COREN: Cardinal Pell is one of Pope Francis' top advisers. As the secretary to the economy he is in charge of the Vatican's finances. He was also hand-picked to sit on the pope's advisory council, set up to address issues including sexual abuse within the church.
Reading a statement from the Vatican hours after the charges were laid, Cardinal Pell says he has endured a relentless character assassination and that he is innocent.
GEORGE PELL, ADVISER TO POPE FRANCIS: I'm looking forward, finally, to having my day in court. I'm innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.
COREN: Last year, Cardinal Pell said he wasn't able to return to Australia to testify before a royal commission into the church's mishandling of sexual abuse. Instead, he gave four days of testimony from a hotel in Rome. His doctors saying he was too ill to fly.
Cardinal Pell has retained the services of top Melbourne Q.C. Robert Richter, who has been described as the Rolls-Royce of criminal defense lawyers. The archbishop of Sydney confirmed the church won't be covering Cardinal Pell's legal costs.
[03:25:02] So Australia's most senior Catholic cleric will be relying on donations from sympathetic parishioners while footing the hefty bill himself.
He flew back into Australia early this month, where he was met by security and whisked away from a barrage of media. But it will be near impossible to avoid the spotlight as he fights to defend himself, and in his words, clear his name.
COREN: Now, Max, the appearance was all of eight minutes in the dock. Cardinal Pell said nothing. His barrister, however, Robert Richter addressed the court saying that if there was any doubt, Cardinal Pell will be pleading not guilty.
Now this was quite a surprising move, it was something that he didn't need to do. As we know the committal hearing will be taking place in October, on the 6th of October. So this was seen as a bit of showmanship, if you like. Cardinal Pell obviously pulling out all stops in the hope of clearing his name. Max?
FOSTER: OK, Anna in Melbourne, thank you very much indeed. We're going to hear to Delia Gallagher now, she's got the view from the Vatican of course. And Delia, I guess it's difficult for the Vatican to give their response until they've got a result from the case. But what are you hearing from that?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Max. There's been no response as of yet from the Vatican today on the proceedings. But of course when Cardinal Pell issued his statement last month, just after the charges were announced, he said that he has kept Pope Francis regularly informed throughout this process, so we know that the pope and the Vatican are well aware of what is going on in Australia.
And indeed last year, Pope Francis was directly asked about allegations against the cardinal, and he said he will speak once justice has spoken. Which presumably means once a verdict has been rendered.
But of course, Max, what has happened since the charges have been announced, is that the spotlight has once again turned back to the Vatican and Pope Francis and what they are doing here at the Vatican about sex abuse cases.
Just in January, Pope Francis said there was a backlog of 2,000 cases at the offices in the Vatican. And then shortly thereafter, one of the prominent members of his committee to protect minors, the sex abuse committee for the pope, resigned, saying that the Vatican offices were not cooperating with the committee's recommendations.
So there's clearly still, even after all of these years that the Catholic Church has been dealing with the sex abuse crisis, some work to be done at the Vatican.
One of the things that has happened, Max, between the time that the charges were announced and today is that Pope Francis removed the head of the office that deals with sex abuse. It's called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It doesn't only deal with sex abuses. It deals with all manners of church teaching.
But he did removed the head of that office. There is now a new man in place. The removal may not have been directly related to the problems in the office for sex abuse. Nonetheless, there's a new man in charge now, and therefore, a new opportunity for the Vatican and Pope Francis to show that it is a priority for them to get some of these cases processed. Max?
FOSTER: Delia Gallagher from Rome, thank you very much indeed.
Still to come, we had -- we head to Turkey where many are calling a trial and holding opposition on this, a crucial test of press freedoms there. Details next.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster in London. Let's update you on our top stories this hour.
Raging wildfires in the south of France have forced a mass evacuation. Authorities say 10,000 people have had to leave Bormes-les-Mimosas after a new wildfire broke out on Tuesday night. Crews are already battling several fires that sparked in and around the French Riviera earlier this week. Hundreds of hectares have burned so far.
U.S. President Donald Trump is offering a cryptic time will tell on to such questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' future. The president is furious over Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation and the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
The opposition in Venezuela is calling for a nationwide strike on Wednesday and Thursday against President Nicolas Maduro's government. They are also pushing to disrupt Sunday's vote to elect the special assembly that could give more power to Mr. Maduro and take power away from his opponents. Months of protests against the referendum and the president have left close to 100 people dead.
Two rival leaders battling for control of Libya have agreed to ceasefire after talks hosted by France's president, country's prime minister, and its eastern commander, also committed to presidential and parliamentary elections and they pledged to use armed force only for counterterrorism.
Seventeen staff members of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet are on trial in Turkey, it's being seen as a test for press freedom in the country. The journalists and other employees have been charged with terror offenses related to last year's failed coup.
Our Ben Wedeman has more from Istanbul.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They hold up a banner in Turkey saying, Cumhuriyet will not be silenced, outside an Istanbul courthouse where many of the paper's staff stand trial.
Seventeen journalists, executives, and lawyers are charged with allowing these staunchly secular opposition newspaper, founded in 1924, to be taken over by the network run by Fettulah Gulen, the U.S.- based Turkish cleric the government claims masterminded the July 2016 failed coup d'etat.
They're also accused of ties with the banned PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party, at war with the Turkish state since 1984. Yeonja Sheikh (Ph), wife of defendant and investigative journalist Ahmed Sheikh describes the trial as a farce.
"They came up with a cocktail of terror charges," she says, "but we see the indictment is empty and today it collapsed in court and Ahmed will say that in his defense. It's a tragic comedy."
Eleven of the paper's staff have languished in pre-trial detention for the last nine months. Columnist Barc?n Yinanc she's attending the trial. Press freedom in Turkey she says is a glass half full, half empty.
BARCIN YINANC, COLUMNIST, CUMHURIYET: So that proves to us that there is critical journalism in Turkey that makes political forces unhappy. That's the half full. Half empty, obviously our colleagues are behind bars, and they should not be behind bars because of expressing their views and because of being critical to the government.
WEDEMAN: This trial is part of a creeping crackdown on the media by a government critics say wants to dictate all the news that's fit to print.
In recent years, the Turkish government has shuttered around 150 media outlets and imprisoned 160 journalists. Turkey which once had a fairly vibrant press by Middle Eastern standards, now ranks a dismal 155 out of 180 in the world press freedom index, compiled by the group, reporters without borders.
At this rate, Turkey is likely to fall even farther.
Steven Ellis is here from the International Press Institute.
STEVEN ELLIS, DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY, INTERNATIONAL PRESS INSTITUTE: We're concerned because this appears to be an attempt to criminalize journalism, it appears to be an attempt to silence dissent and chill any sort of questioning or criticism of the government.
[03:34:59] WEDEMAN: Police keep an eye on a small protest outside the courthouse. Whatever they say and write, the state is watching and waiting.
FOSTER: Ben joins us from Istanbul now. So the evidence here is what they've written. How does that translate into terror law?
WEDEMAN: Well, it's not just what they've written. More it's sort of the communications that were intercepted by the government and collected afterwards, after the paper was raided on the 31st of October last year. But even there the evidence is somewhat thin, shall we say?
For instance, some of the communications were on a social media app that the journalists were using to communicate with their contacts. And they say the platform they used, the app was an app that was popular with members of the Fettulah Gulen network. But just because they use that app doesn't necessarily implicate them as being members of a terror organization, which is one of the accusations against them. Max?
FOSTER: In terms of what happens after this trial, obviously the international community not getting involved because it's an independent case. But if they're found guilty here, do you think this is going to blow up into something bigger internationally? WEDEMAN: Well, this isn't the only case against journalists that's
ongoing in Turkey. Many other cases are pending. Now, until now, the international sort of reaction to this crackdown has been muted, particularly from Europe because, of course, there was that March 2016 agreement, I think it was, between the E.U. and Turkey on the movement of migrants, that Turkey would make an effort to prevent the sort of mass movements we saw in the summer of 2015 from the Middle East to Europe.
But because that agreement hasn't really worked out now, there's the fear that -- so, I mean, basically Europe doesn't want to pressure Turkey on the issue of press freedom when you have this very sensitive agreement on migration that's trying to be implemented.
So there could be, if these 17 are found guilty, there could be more of an impact. But at the moment, it's being muffled for other political considerations.
FOSTER: OK, Ben, thank you.
There are calls in Jerusalem for Israel to remove all security measures. Israel has removed metal detectors at the entrance to Temple Mount, or Noble Sanctuary. Those detectors were installed after two Israeli security guards were shot.
But now Israel is installing smart cameras and adding more security personnel. The U.S. is supporting that move. Meanwhile, tensions are rising over a shooting at the Israeli embassy in Jordan. Israel's prime minister met on Tuesday with the Israeli security guard who came under attack. Two Jordanians died in the incident. And earlier CNN spoke with the Jordanian foreign minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I have to say here that it is absurd some of the reactions that are coming from Israel, which are trying to show this as if the ambassador and the suspect were under siege and they are somehow liberated and celebrating them as he is coming back home. This is really absurd.
This is a criminal case and I think it's in everybody's interest that it's pursued as such, that justice is allowed to take its course and to respect the fact that two Jordanians were killed. Jordan acted legally and morally.
It's up on Israel to do the same and allow for justice to take its course and to stop provocative kind of behaviors that is again to distort the facts here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Oren Liebermann joins us now from Jerusalem. In terms of the tension on the ground, has that dissipated somewhat now?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That has not. And that's where our focus is today and certainly will be over the next few days as we lead up to Friday prayers and then Friday protests. Will they be as bad as they were last week? That would certainly be an indication that this will continue that the wave of tensions then some of the increasingly violence we've seen that that will continue.
In terms of the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Jordan, we just heard from the Jordanian foreign minister, that, it seems, has essentially been solved and Jordan has been quite engaged with Israel and with the Palestinians.
But now the tension is between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the Muslim worshippers not to go into the Noble Sanctuary, to not to go into the Temple Mount and to keep their prayers outside in public places. That is a function of protest.
And if those prayers are as big as they were last week, which is thousands of people in numerous places in and around -- or I should say around the old city of Jerusalem, we could see just as much tension and just as many clashes between thousand protesters and Israeli soldiers. This Friday which would be an indication that there's very much, the tension has very much not gone away here.
[03:40:00] FOSTER: And what about the tension between Israel and Jordan?
LIEBERMANN: That for the most part has been solved at this point. It was essentially a diplomatic crisis, not only over the Temple Mount Noble Sanctuary, but also with the incident over the security guard and the Israeli embassy in Amman. That escalated very quickly. And for 48 hours there were behind the scenes contacts.
We've learned from the prime minister's office between the Israel and Jordan to get that and solved as quickly as possible. First, the first step was the Israeli security guard and the embassy team in Amman returning to Israel. The second step was Israel removing metal detectors and security cameras.
So now the focus is what are the relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President has made it clear that as of right now, contacts between the Israelis and Palestinian governments, are still frozen.
FOSTER: OK. Oren, thank you.
North Korea threatening to aim a nuclear strike at the heart of the U.S. if Washington tries to remove leader Kim Jong-un. The threat comes after CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration needs to find a way to separate Kim Jong-un from his growing nuclear stockpile.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES CIA DIRECTOR: It would be a great thing to denuclearize the Peninsula, to get those weapons off of that. But the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today. So, from the administration's perspective, the most important thing do
is separate those two, right. Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart. I'm hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: North Korea release the statement, "The DPRK legally stipulates that if the Supreme Court dignity of the DPRK is threatened, it must pre-emptively annihilate those countries and entities that are directly or indirectly involved in it by mobilizing all kinds of strikes means including the nuclear ones."
Meanwhile, a new report show China is fortifying its border with North Korea. The two countries are historic allies, but rising tensions along the border are straining that relationship.
CNN's Matt Rivers joins us live from Beijing. So what are we talking about here, Matt?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the information that we're getting is mainly from two reports that were published online by the army's official newspaper here. And what those reports said was that China was creating a newly formed border defense brigade and that also it was increasing surveillance in what they call its northern command.
It's a huge portion of northern China that includes borders with Mongolia, Russia, and of course, with North Korea. The North Korea in particular, that border is about 880 miles long. And analysts that we've spoken to that have looked at those news reports and seen where that defense brigade is being created, said it's probably very -- it is very likely that those efforts are being focused on the North Korean border, given the kind of tensions that we continue to see in the Korean Peninsula.
We asked the ministry of foreign affairs here in China specifically about those reports, about what appears to be a beefing up of its troops and its resources along the border, and the ministry of foreign affairs would only say that they are operating on normal security levels.
And so what it appears is that China is now looking at this situation on the Korean Peninsula and reacting to it in what could be described, Max, as a new normal for China's military.
FOSTER: And that would have a big impact, wouldn't it, if the relationship weakened between the two countries, big impact on North Korea?
RIVERS: Yes, it certainly would. And that's the big question here, what is the relationship here between China and North Korea moving forward? Really it's been a love/hate relationship for China. They have a strategic interest in propping up the Kim Jong-un regime for a number of reasons, not the least of which would be that if the Kim Jong-un regime were to collapse at some point, after some future conflict, that millions of refugees would likely spill into China. And so one of the reasons analysts are telling us that there is this
build-up along the border is not only because China fears some sort of conflict there perhaps at some point in the future, but also for what might happen with that kind of refugee crisis. China wants to be prepared if that were to happen. And in China's view, that's a worst case scenario.
FOSTER: It would also bring the South Korean border towards them potentially. And that would mean American presence coming closer to the Chinese border.
RIVERS: That's exactly right. And that's the other side of the coin. When analysts tell you what China fears the most, why they want the Kim Jong-un regime to stay propped up, what they talk about is number one, the refugee crisis but also the strategic advantage that the United States would have if it were to have a unified Korea.
Unified Korea would likely come together under a pro-western government. And so the United States could even have troops right at the Chinese border. That's something that hasn't happened since the Korean War back in the early 1950s, Max. And that's something that makes China very nervous.
So despite what it has to put up with the Kim Jong-un regime, with the constant testing of missiles, with the relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons technology, China does have a strategic interest in propping up this regime.
[03:45:07] FOSTER: OK. Matt Rivers in Beijing, thank you.
Now the owner of a building that collapsed in Mumbai in India is now under arrest, he's accused of making illegal renovations. At least 17 people were killed when the five-storey building tumbled to the ground on Tuesday. Fourteen people have been pulled from the rubble and crews are searching for more people who may be buried in the debris.
We may now know more about what happened in the minutes before a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, fatally shot an Australian bride to be. The woman was shot after reporting a possible sexual assault near her home.
According to a search warrant obtained by Minneapolis public radio, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, she was killed after she apparently slapped the back of a police car. One of the two officers at the scene has said his partner was startled by loud noise before opening fire. The officer who fired the fatal shot, and his partner, are now on administrative leave.
Up next, brick kiln workers in Cambodia are paid just fractions of a cent. In CNN's Freedom Project we'll speak to laborers who say it's impossible to make -- to pay off their debt with such meager wages.
FOSTER: All this week the CNN Freedom Project is investigating and exposing the use of children and bonded laborers in the brick hills of Cambodia. Construction is powering Cambodia's booming economy, but the brick kilns are being plagued with allegations of debt bondage a form of modern day slavery.
CNN's Alexandra Field now reports.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what progress looks like. Cambodia is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. Construction is booming making brick kilns, one of the country's largest economic sectors. It all starts here in the factories, largely outside the capital Phnom Penh where life looks very different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I hope that the brick kiln owner will close this kiln when they run out of the clay so I can get rid of the debt and stop working here.
FIELD: Conditions are tough, toilets are rare, so is running water. Entire families live right here at the factories. The work is seasonal and some of the workers have to return most of the meager wages they earn.
Every worker we talked do tells us that they owe the factory owner money, either a thousand dollars, sometimes even a few thousand dollars. It's money they borrowed to pay for medical expenses, for funerals, to support their children, or sometimes to pay off higher interest loans.
In order to pay down this debt, they come to work here in the brick kilns.
[03:49:57] In a scathing report, a Cambodian NGO Likato (Ph) said the widespread practice amounts to debt bondage, a form of modern day slavery. Illegal under Cambodian law. The Cambodian labor ministry disputes those findings, they say the kilns are closely inspected and they haven't found any cases of debt bondage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): All of my workers owe me money, not some of them, but all of them.
FIELD: A factory owner we spoke to on the outskirts of Phnom Penh says it's just an advance loan that's being worked off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translator): The lives here are good because the bills are put on me. When they give birth, we pay. When they get married, we also pay. So their debts increase because they borrow our money.
FIELD: She said she pays her worker three Cambodian reels per brick. A fraction of a fraction of a cent. At other kilns laborers say it's impossible to pay off what they owe with the wages they earn. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have to work here our
whole lives because we borrowed money from the kiln owner and we have nothing to reduce the debt.
FIELD: A cycle they say they're trapped in where they have to borrow more just for basics. When the debt grows, some become desperate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): All my children started working since very small like this one. They all have to work. This little one helps to carry the bricks.
FIELD: We meet whole families who say everyone must pitch in. Adults who tell us they'll never pay off what they owe. They fear they'll pass it on.
Alexandra Field, CNN, Phnom Penh.
FOSTER: Well, tomorrow the CNN Freedom Project we'll introduce you to a young survivor of child labor at a Cambodian brick kiln.
FIELD: Peter Chanteng (Ph) is 16 and only in first grade, but his teachers believe in him. He's done harder work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When I was 11, I started working at the brick kiln. It was very difficult. I loaded bricks on the cart, and then I pulled the cart full of bricks to dry. But one day when I was putting clay on the machine I slipped and my arm got caught in the engine.
FIELD: Chanteng (Ph) was 14. His mother says she was in debt to a brick factory owner. The whole family was making bricks to pay it off.
FOSTER: For more on his story and the problem with child labor in Cambodia's brick kiln, tomorrow only on CNN. More news after this break.
FOSTER: Now before he became U.S. President Donald Trump offered his business advice in his book "The Art of the Deal." Now his art of the skyline is up for auction.
Jeanne Moos gives us a preview.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We see him sign executive orders, we see him sign autographs. It looks like seismographs, but have we ever seen President Trump draw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's in fantastic condition. MOOS: Up for auction, a New York City skyline drawn by Donald Trump
for a charity event back in 2005. Of course that's Trump Tower center stage.
I think the Washington Post said that Trump Tower is really 64th in height in New York, and it kind of looks like it's right up there among the tallest in this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's shoulder to shoulder with the big boys of the skyscrapers in this drawing.
MOOS: And with what did the artist draw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is sort of like a golden magic marker.
[03:55:01] MOOS: The drawing is up for bid at Nate D Sanders Auctions along with items ranging from JFK's driver's license application to a ticket for Bill Clinton's Senate impeachment trial.
But Trump's drawing is getting five times as many views as anything else, even this autographed photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue, with a minimum reserve bid of $100,000. As for bidding on the Trump skyline?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's already met its minimum reserve of $9,000.
MOOS: It's not the only Trump drawing up for bid. Another auctioneer, golden auctions is offering another Trump skyline created for a different charity event.
The Twitter account Trump draws, has been mocking the president by showing him holding up childish drawings with childish misspellings and online posters are taking shots at the president's skyline. I think this needs to go back on the refrigerator that it once graced. But the auction manager disagrees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not bad.
MOOS: He calls the lines assured, bold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not a lot of hesitation in the skyline.
MOOS: Some don't hesitate to find hidden meaning. "It looks like a bunch of middle finger salutes. Somebody some trim those fingernails."
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.