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CONNECT THE WORLD

Mohammed Moris, Ahmed Shafik To Battle In Egyptian Run-off; Anti- Immigrant Sentiment Rises in Tel Aviv

Aired May 25, 2012 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: And tonight on Connect the World, pitting Egypt's old guard against the new. On your left, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, on your right a former prime minister, a face from the past: the likely two candidates for Egyptian president.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Well, no one said the road from a dictatorship to democracy would be easy. Tonight, the bitter battle for Egypt's future.

Also this hour, it's the case which transformed how the United States dealt with missing children. Exactly 33 years to this day after this little boy vanished. Why the suspect in his disappearance now won't appear in court.

And love it or hate it, it's that Eurovision time of the year again. What, though, makes a winning song? That's coming up.

Well, first up tonight, opinion polls in Egypt didn't see this one coming. According to partial results at least in this week's historic presidential election, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate is currently in the lead. Things clear that Mohammed Morsi won't win a majority of votes, meaning he'll have to compete in a run-off next month. Right now his competition appears to be Ahmed Shafik, a former Air Force general who also served as prime minister under Hosni Mubarak.

Well, these men are the most polarizing candidates in the race. And they offer Egypt a stark choice between an Islamist who believes religion has a role in state affairs and a secularist from the very regime that was overthrown.

Hala Gorani for you once again in Cairo tonight -- Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. In fact you just said it. Very polarized political landscape in this country. If these results hold, we're expecting official confirmation from the electoral commission by Tuesday, by next Tuesday. But these results that are unofficial seem to confirm each other between those estimates, from the semi-official state newspaper Ahram, to the parties themselves. The Muslim Brotherhood has essentially said that it expects a run-off between its candidate, Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik who is, as you mentioned there, a regime, an old regime holdover of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the prime minister in the dying days of the regime, and the aviation minister for almost a decade.

What does this mean essentially, and that is of a centrist candidate have lost in this race. If the results are confirmed. I'm talking, of course, about Amre Moussa who many had predicted would end up in the run- off as well as Abdul Moneim Aboul Fatouh who was the more moderate Islamist candidate.

This is an extremely stark choice that are Egyptians are going to have to make. And revolutionaries are not happy. This is a nightmare scenario as far as they're concerned, either an Islamist who wants to inject more of Islam into politics or a remnant of the old regime, that very regime they fought and some of whom died to overthrow -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Hala, thank you for that.

If Moris, then, wins the run-off it would be a huge coup for Islamists there. They already control parliament. Many observers had written off the Brotherhood in this race, but our correspondent explains how they capitalized on the long reach of what is a grass roots organization.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fatima (ph) couldn't make it up the stairs to vote, she had a stroke a few months ago, so election workers brought the papers, the ballot, and the ink to her.

"I want the scale," she says, referring to the electoral symbol for the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi.

In a country where almost a third of all adults are illiterate the symbol is key.

"We want him to fix the country," she tells me. "We want him to look after the Muslims and care for our children."

The Brotherhood's popularity is based upon a network of social services the Egyptian state can't or won't provide and the perception among many that the brothers are pious and untainted by corruption.

Since its founding more than 80 years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood has struggled against successive regimes in Egypt. And since the revolution have flexed its muscles in the parliamentary elections and now in the race for the presidency.

Given that this is Egypt's first ever truly free presidential election, there's very little that can be predicted with any certainty. However, one thing is certain, and that is that the Muslim Brotherhood is this country's best organized and largest political bloc.

Once again, the Brotherhood has managed to mobilize the faithful like no one else. Women, religious and secular, wait in line patiently to cast their ballots at a school in the working class Cairo suburb of Shubra el- Khaima (ph). There's strong support for the brother over here, though not necessarily strong awareness among some of the voters.

I asked this woman who she'll vote for.

"The scales," she says looking down at a scrap of paper.

You mean Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, I say. What do you like about him?

"I don't know," she replies. "But I've heard he's good."

Mohammed says of the Brotherhood candidate, "he's an Islamist. He'll fix the country with his own hands."

The appeal to religion does not, however, win over everyone.

"The Brotherhood had no connection with Islam," says Hossein, a construction worker. "We're all Muslims. I don't have to grow a beard to be a Muslim."

Mechanic Ahmed Abdelnebi (ph) is voting for Morsi of the Brotherhood, but warns his support shouldn't be taken for granted.

"We'll give him a chance," he says. "if there's freedom and progress. If not, after four years we'll get rid of him."

Even those who claim to have god on their side need the voters.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Shubra el-Khaima (ph), Egypt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, some Egyptians fear an Islamist take over of their government. Of course there's no track record to go by, but we can look to Tunisia where the Arab Spring, of course the uprisings began. The mass protests last January forced what was a secular dictator from power. And moderate Islamist party won elections soon after and like the Brotherhood in Egypt. That party had always been banned from politics. So people weren't sure what to expect. The party is now honoring its commitment to democratic rights.

Replacing dictatorship with democracy certainly isn't easy. I want to talk about that and the challenges that it poses.

A prominent Tunisian journalist and human rights activist Sihem Bensedrine is president of the Tunisian Center for Transitional Justice. And she joins us now from Tunisia.

We've asked you onto the show. There has been a debate not altogether healthy I think from the west about the influence of Islamist parties and politics on countries that are evolving from the Arab Spring. Can you explain, or describe the influence that you've seen from your new politics in Tunisia?

SIHEM BENSEDRINE, PRESIDENT, TUNISIAN CENTER FOR TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE: Hi. I think the Islamist were repressed during decades. This repression is now the way that the society is expressing itself, because these political parties, these Islamist parties are winning because they represent the alternative to dictatorship. And for the present right now in Tunisia they are living the governance (ph).

ANDERSON: The reason that we've seen such support for the Brotherhood, for example, in Egypt is because let's face it, it ran a grass roots organization, a sort of social welfare organization for years for those who felt they weren't being represented by the government. Is that reflected as well in Tunisia?

BENSEDRINE: Yes. Yes. For sure, because they are much more organized than the secular parties where -- who are completely repressed and also marginalized from the political days. And on the other hand the Islamist group are using most lies like priest (ph) where policy where politics is in debate and is used to influence grass roots and people.

But these chance is not given to secular groups, because they didn't benefit from public space...

ANDERSON: A radical Islamist republic is a very different thing from a country emerging from a dictatorship and adopting a fairly moderate Islamic politic within a sort of new democracy. What can Egypt, do you think, learn from your experience over the last, what, nine, 10 months in Tunisia? And what do you think the future for the region is at this point?

BENSEDRINE: I don't think the Islamist (inaudible) -- Islamist (inaudible) will be the future of the region. I don't think so. It's just -- not exactly a permanent situation, it's alternative situation because we are going from a dictatorship and this is an heritage of the dictatorship. But I think the democracy with international (inaudible) will be implemented in our country. And if I look at the Tunisian process we are going in the right way. And for instance when the first articles of the constitution were discussed in the constitution assembly, we excluded using these (inaudible) to the Shariah in our constitution.

And it was accepted by all political party including the ruling party, the Islamist one.

And I don't think it will be a permanent situation going through Islamist republics in the region. I think people are much more needing to change the behavior from the dictatorship imposed during decades to them.

ANDERSON: Sihem, your analysis is much appreciated here on CNN this evening. We thank you for your time. Sihem Bensedrine here on Connect the World.

Our top story tonight is early -- early indications to suggest no one candidate has won an outright majority in the Egyptian presidential elections. Ready yourselves for a runoff ballot in June, a vote that will likely pit the old guard against the new and dictate whether a new dawn really is in the making.

Still to come this evening, things get a little out of hand in Ukraine's parliament. (inaudible) fists were flying between these politicians.

And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE ECCLESTONE, CEO, FORMULA ONE: Just got (inaudible) all the current teams to sign up to 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: A race to the finish, Bernie Ecclestone is Formula One is here to stay in an exclusive interview with CNN. All that and much more when Connect the world continues. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, back with Connect the World here on CNN. There's your music. It's six minutes past 9:00 in London. I'm Becky Anderson.

A man arrested in connection with the notorious killing of a 6 year old boy who vanished decades ago, will now not appear in the New York court room today. Instead, Pedro Hernandez is to be arraigned from his hospital bed. He is in Belleview. A law enforcement source says he is on suicide watch.

Well, police say he confessed to the murder of Etan Patz who went missing 33 years ago today transforming how an entire nation searches for its missing kids. A little later in the show we're going to talk live to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids in the United States, a guy called Ernie Allen on what may be a big break for police.

A look at all that and some of the other stories connecting our world tonight.

And Spain's trouble with lender Bankia has asked the Spanish government for a bailout of 19 billion euros, that is more than 23 billion dollars. The Spanish government said early on Friday that it would help the bank in order to boost confidence in the whole of the country's banking sector. Now if it agrees to Bankia's request, the government will take control of almost 90 percent of that bank.

Well, a brawl broke out in Ukraine's parliament over a hotly contested language law. A politician was taken to hospital after the fight erupted in the main chamber. Politicians you notice there were debating on a bill that would allow Russian to be an official language. Now that bill has divided opinion with many seeing it as a threat to the Ukrainian language.

Well, the issue of immigration dividing people in the streets of Israel. Demonstrators turned out in Tel Aviv on Thursday in support of the country's immigrant population. Earlier this week you may remember there were riots in the same city when some protesters attacked foreign workers and vandalized shops mainly targeting those from an African background.

Sara Sidner has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORRESPONDNET: Amene Tekele Haymanot has a lot on his mind. He thought he had made the right choice for his safety when five years ago he escaped his conflict torn country Eritrea and opened a cafe in sunny Tel Aviv. But he and his countrymen are again the center of conflict.

"Now I'm afraid here. I cannot live this way. I'm afraid for my life," he laments.

This is what he's afraid of, anti-immigration sentiment erupting in a south Tel Aviv neighborhood -- Jews targeting illegal black immigrants that the government describes as infiltrators.

This is what happened to Haymanot's shop during an anti-immigration protest -- windows smashed, his cafe looted. The Israeli protesters chanted slogans such as infiltrators get out and Tel Aviv: a refugee camp. Anger over the estimated 59,000 illegal African immigrants in this country and Israel's inability to deal with them has been simmering for a long time.

Illegal African immigrants are being blamed for increasing crime, suffocating the infrastructure, and changing the fabric of Israel. During the protests, several Israeli politicians showed up, members of the right- wing Lahud Party, party of the governing coalition. One quoted as saying the Sudanese are like a cancer in society. Israeli police arrested 17 Israeli demonstrators, charging them with property damage.

In the aftermath of the attacks and arrests, the visual reminders of the tension are gone, but not the sentiment. Attorney Asaf Weitzen works for an immigrant support hotline.

ASAF WEITZEN, IMMIGRANT SUPPORT HOTLINE ATTORNEY: There is a very big pressure on the neighborhood (inaudible) people that came here in such a very short time. And the differences of mentality of people, and no language.

SIDNER: And the changes are threatening to send Israelis who fear Jewish culture will be marginalized.

"Someone has to take over the law," community activist Dror Kahalani says. "The government must, must in every meaning for the word starting tomorrow morning, gather them all together, build them a tent city and give them solutions, food, medical, everything they need, give it to them, but not here," he says.

As he spoke, a crowd of long-time residents gathered saying they're afraid of the influx of African immigrants.

DAVID OVADYA, RESIDENT: I alone am afraid.

SIDNER: But some in this Tel Aviv neighborhood have made sure that Africans like Haymanot are also afraid.

"They told me I will kill this place, I will kill you too. I will burn this place," he says.

With no official refugee status, he now wants to close his coffee shop and move somewhere where he can run a cafe in peace.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Tel Aviv.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: We're going to take a very short break at this point here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson.

When we come back, an exclusive chat with the F1 boss as he tries to clear the air with one of his teams. That is coming up after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, ahead of Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone's exclusively told CNN that all the sport's teams have settled on terms for a new commercial deal that will run to the year 2020, eight years from now.

Let's get to Mark McKay at CNN Center. This is big news, Mark.

The current so-called concord agreement, of course ends at the end of this season. And there had been reports of discontent and a possible breakaway by some of the constructors. What do we now understand?

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: According to Mr. Ecclestone, Becky, who spoke exclusively to CNN's Amanda Davies, everything is set for that concord agreement to continue. Everyone is on board until the year 2020.

Now there was a belief that Mercedes wouldn't agree. So that appears to be now in the past. But Amanda was curious as to why Red Bull, Ferrari, and McClaren were offered a seat on the board, but not Mercedes. Here's Mr. Ecclestone's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE ECCLESTONE, CEO, FORMULA ONE: I appreciate Mercedes and support Mercedes probably more than anyone. They do a fantastic job with Formula 1. And can't say we wouldn't have been where we are if they hadn't have been there. But probably would have been. They've done a good, good, good job. And we're appreciative.

But the way the whole thing was constructed was on results. And we couldn't falsify the results, because we did other people would complain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKAY: The bottom line, F1's financial system based on results. And the likes of Red Bull, McClaren, even Ferrari have done a whole lot better than Mercedes recently. And so therefore the seats on the board for those three.

The entire chat, Becky, can be seen on World Sport. We will also look ahead to racing. There's the business side of F1 and then there is the racing side to F1. Big race in Monte Carlo this weekend. We will talk about who is hot and who is not coming up a little later.

ANDERSON: That's right. In an hour from now, World Sport.

Before you go, while Ecclestone is determined to hold a slew of teams together in his sport, Barcelona's most successful coach football wise is currently managing his final game with the club. This is the end of a real era isn't it?

MCKAY: Ah, it sure it, Becky. And ironically enough, this era comes to an end in the city of his team's greatest rival, that being Madrid. But Barcelona is not playing Real Madrid tonight, instead its Pep Guardiola's team going against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey, or the King's Cup final.

Should Barcelona prevail tonight, it would be Guardiola's 14th trophy with the team. He may be done with Barcelona, but Guardiola is not done with coaching. And he said as much on the eve of the King's Cup final.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEP GUARDIOLA, BARCELONA MANAGER: I have received calls, of course. And -- but for the next month I have to charge my batteries, to charge my mind. And I want to rest. And I will wait -- I will wait. And when I will be ready if one club wants me, if they seduce me, I will return again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKAY: At 41 years of age you know he's going to come back once those batteries are charged. But Becky don't you know these players loved that guy and it's evident, it's not even halftime in the King's Cup final and look at that, Barcelona already ahead 3-0.

I tell you what, Becky, this could be one big scoreline before this match ends. We will continue to follow it of course next hour on World Sport. That could be -- that could be one lopsided final with Guardiola going out on top, huh?

ANDERSON: Oh, I'm just looking at who scored, Messi by chance. He said if one club wants me, I might be prepared to think again about coaching. Every club will want him, right?

MCKAY: It's all about (inaudible). And you know -- and you know they still haven't decided on what's going to happen in Chelsea. Wouldn't that give Chelsea a bit of encouragement if they don't put the job in Roberto Di Matteo's hands. But, you know, you've got to take Guardiola at his word, Becky, he's going to recharge the batteries, sit back and then let the seduction process begin, huh?

ANDERSON: Good for him. He needs a break, to be honest.

Mark, thank you for that. Mark back in an hour with World Sport. More on Connect the World here this hour.

A suspect in the abduction and death of Etan Patz is waiting to be arraigned. We'll show you how a six-year-old in the state transformed the landscape for America's missing children. And we'll be interview live from the U.S.

Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng tells CNN his fight isn't over. That all coming up. Hang on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson. These are the latest world news headlines. It's just after half past nine in London.

Egypt's historic presidential election appears headed for a runoff between an Islamist and a former -- from the former regime. Partial results show Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy in the lead. Former prime minister Ahmed Shafik is in second place.

Reports from international inspectors say they have found traces of uranium at an Iranian nuclear site enriched to 27 percent. That is 7 percent more than Tehran has admitted to in the past. That announcement follows a round of international nuclear talks. The world powers are trying to stop Iran from developing any capacity for nuclear weapons.

French president Francois Hollande has delivered a message to Afghanistan's president and French troops there: French forces are going home. Mr. Hollande spent Friday in Kabul reinforming -- reaffirming his pledge to bring home some 2,000 French soldiers by the end of this year.

And it's been an historic day in space. The first commercial capsule to reach the International Space Station is now connected and ready to unload its cargo. The SpaceX Dragon's mission opens a new era for the US Space Program as it moves to rely on private industry to deliver cargo and eventually people -- you and me, maybe -- to space.

No apparent motive and no prior criminal record. Suspect Pedro Hernandez is now in a New York hospital at this hour, where a source says he is on a suicide watch. This man is waiting to be arraigned at his bedside in connection with the murder of Etan Patz, who was a six-year-old who vanished 33 years ago today, changing the way the US searches for missing kids.

Now, police say Hernandez has confessed to killing the little boy, so this could be a big break in a case that spawned America's National Missing Children's Day.

Susan Candiotti joins us live, now, from New York. Hernandez had been expected to, Susan, show up in a Manhattan courtroom today until he was taken to a hospital. What do we know at this point?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're still waiting for word on what's going to happen with this hearing today, but we have now learned that Pedro Hernandez is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at New York's Bellevue Hospital, here.

This happened after he was initially brought from the jail earlier today over to the hospital to get some medications that weren't available at the jail, not considered to be drugs that were psychiatric in nature.

But once he arrived at the hospital, according to a law enforcement source, he started making statements including "I want to die." And that's why they put him under a psychiatric evaluation and also undergoing a suicide watch at this time.

So, that called into question for right now whether there will indeed be an initial court appearance and whether prosecutors still intend to file paperwork today on exactly what they're going to charge this man with. Becky?

ANDERSON: Susan, this is a story that a generation of Americans will have grown up with. It will be -- have been slightly unfamiliar to our international viewers. We're talking 33 years, and then almost to the day, a man declares that he may have committed a crime. What's the background for this? What sort of police history and what sort of case developed over those years? Did they never have any leads?

CANDIOTTI: Imagine all the leads they had and how many cases you hear about over time where a lot of people make claims that they were responsible for a particular death.

And then, this case going back 33 years, it really threw this city into an uproar because it started a national conversation, really, about protecting children and keeping an eye on our children, and trying to find people responsible for child abductions and the best way to try to get the word out about that.

That's how far back this case goes. And yes, there were a number of leads over time, including a lot of speculation that a man who's currently in jail on an unrelated child molestation charge was responsible for this man's death.

This is someone who was a boyfriend of the nanny who worked for the Patz family. But that man was never charged. However, a civil court judge did find him responsible for Etan's death in the ensuing years.

Still, the family never has had any resolution. In fact, they still live in the very same place where they did 33 years ago. Never changed their phone number in hopes of some answers.

And it's still not clear whether they have an answer at this point, as we still wait to find out whether there was a motive and what kind of physical evidence there might possibly be in this case. Becky?

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Susan Candiotti with some analysis and background of that case. And lest we forget, Etan Patz would be nearly 40 this year if he'd been allowed to live. And his story, well, it's been a force for change.

The little boy's disappearance, as Susan suggested, inspired US president Ronald Reagan at the time to declare May the 25th the day Etan vanished, National Missing Children's Day in the States.

In 1989, Ernie Allen, co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That center has helped find more than -- get this -- 169,000 youngsters since it was set up. He joins us now live from our Washington bureau. Take us back. This case has had such resonance, hasn't it, in the States?

ERNIE ALLEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: It really has, Becky. It awakened a nation. Frightened parents, they sat at home and saw this little boy disappear on the first day he was allowed to walk to the school bus stop by himself. It made millions of parents think, there but for the grace of God go I or my child.

And it also illuminated the fact that America did not have an effective system for responding to missing children. You couldn't enter missing child information into the FBI's database. Police had mandatory waiting periods. So, Etan's story helped change the way America searches for missing children.

ANDERSON: Since then, your center alone has helped find more than 169,000 youngsters. That number is quite phenomenal. I only worry about the amount of kids who haven't been found versus those of those who have been. You say that this was a game-changer, as it were. How effective is the system now?

ALLEN: Becky, it's enormously effective. Today, there's a national network. When a child disappears, there's instant notification, communication, distribution of photos. The best measure of that is that our recovery rate of missing children in 1990 was 62 percent. Today, it's 98 percent.

So, the vast majority of America's missing children come home safely today, and much of that is part of the legacy of Etan Patz.

ANDERSON: Stay with me for just a moment. We've got viewers, of course, watching around the world. You'll remember other cases that have yet to be solved, of course, most notably the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, the British girl who was nearly four years old and vanished during a family holiday Portugal. UK police said as recently as last month that she may still be alive.

In 1991, toddler Ben Needham disappeared from a Greek island. His money has been writing to every UK prime minister asking for a British-led investigation since the Sheffield child went missing 21 years ago.

And Australia's still grappling with its most infamous cold case, the Beaumont kids, three siblings, all under the age of 10, haven't been seen since they disappeared in Adelaide in 1966.

It is gratifying to hear how the system has -- has been established and how it works in the States. When you listen to just three of what will be thousands of stories globally, what's your sense? Are we learning enough and quickly enough around the world about what we do about what are horrific, horrific crimes?

ALLEN: Well, I think we have a long way to go. I've personally said to Kate and Gerry McCann and many of these other families that there is hope, particularly when children are taken when they're very young. They don't know that they're missing. They believe that they're where they're supposed to be.

We just had a case in which we were able to identify a man who's 34 years old who was abducted when he was a three-week-old infant. He went to our website, saw an age-progressed photo, called us and said, "That's me." And DNA proved that that was, in fact, him.

So, we are recovering children after longs periods of time. Jaycee Dugard after 18 years. Elizabeth Smart after nine months. So, there is hope for these families.

I think the most important message in the Etan Patz case is the New York Police Department was still searching for Etan 33 years later. And we hope that's an inspiration for families and for law enforcement around the world.

ANDERSON: Never give up. Ernie Allen, pleasure to talk to you this evening, thank you.

Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, after years of alleged brutality, Chen Guangcheng is free and did his first television interview in the US. CNN's Anderson Cooper finds out how his freedom has come, well, let me say, at a price. That's coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, he was held captive for almost six years, first in prison, then under house arrest. Well now, the Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is free and he's in the United States. But that doesn't mean his family's suffering is over.

In his first television interview since arriving in America, he told my colleague Anderson Cooper that he won't be silent. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the night of April 22nd, a blind activist in China makes a daring escape. Chen Guangcheng a self-taught lawyer and advocate for the poor, had been a prisoner in his own home for more than 18 months. During that time, he and his wife were periodically and savagely beaten by their Chinese guards.

In his first television interview, Chen says he needed to find a way out.

COOPER (on camera): You were under house arrest. What was that like.

CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE ACTIVIST (through translator): I want to correct one thing here. When we talk about my situation in the future, let's not use the word "house arrest," but instead, let's use the term "illegal detention." It's hard for me to describe what it was like during the time, but my suffering was beyond imagination.

COOPER: Did you feel like there was an end to it? Did it feel like it was just going to go on and on?

CHEN (through translator): I didn't see much hope.

COOPER (voice-over): Chen is known as the barefoot lawyer in China, a well-known activist who became a government target after he filed a class- action lawsuit in 2005 on behalf of poor women who say they were subjected to forced abortions and sterilizations as part of China's one child policy.

Soon after filing the lawsuit, Chen was arrested and jailed for more than four years.

COOPER (on camera): You filed a class action suit on behalf of these women. Did you know that the state would arrest you? Did you know that you would get in trouble?

CHEN (through translator): It would be dishonest of me to say I had never thought of it. But I didn't imagine they would disregard the law so blatantly.

COOPER: Why did you begin to speak out?

CHEN (through translator): It was very natural for me. I feel it's in people's nature to want to stop evil and embrace the good, so there's really nothing special there. It was just how I reacted naturally.

COOPER: You say it's natural to want to speak out against evil, but many people remain silent.

CHEN (through translator): I only feel it's a natural reaction from my heart. My nature wouldn't allow me to sit idly be and disregard what was going on. I think everybody should act that way.

COOPER (voice-over): After his release, he was detained in his home. Activists, friends, and journalists tried to visit him over the years, only to be violently repelled by the guards who were always outside.

Actor Christian Bale was with a CNN crew in 2011 when he tried to go to Chen's house to talk with him.

CHRISTIAN BALE, ACTOR: Why can I not go visit this man?

(SOUNDS OF SCUFFLE)

BALE: Why can I not go visit this man? Tell me why I cannot go to visit him, he's a free man.

COOPER: After months of planning, Chen scaled the wall around his house, slipped past his guards, and wandered through the countryside for more than 20 hours, falling down some 200 times, he says, injuring his foot.

Finally, he was able to call a friend for help.

CHEN (through translator): After evading danger and obstacles, I was able to get out of Dongshigu village, and then, I called my good friend Guo Yushan in Beijing. He quickly led a team to find me and drove me to Beijing.

While in Beijing, he found me a safe place to stay temporarily, but then we started to worry about my safety because of my experience in 2005.

COOPER: Worried for his safety, Chen's friends helped him seek refuge in the US Embassy..

CHEN (through translator): When a group of people come together and accomplish something, they often fight for credit. But in my case, all those people who want to Shandong to pick me up, when the news broke, they were fighting for risk instead of credit. They were all trying to claim responsibility to make others safer. I think this shows me hope in the growth of civil society in China.

COOPER: After negotiations between the US and China, Chen was finally allowed to leave Beijing, flying to American on a one-year student visa.

COOPER (on camera): I understand that on Sunday you spent some time out in the sun, and it was the first time you'd been able to sit out in the sun for a long time.

CHEN (through translator): I hadn't been able to feel nature for a long time. On that day, I had some time to soak in the sun and feel the breeze. I had missed out for too long.

COOPER (voice-over): Chen has not sough asylum. Though he's enjoying his temporary freedom, he worries for his friends and family back home.

COOPER (on camera): Your nephew's been charged with intentional homicide for defending himself against the people who broke into his house as they were searching for you. What do you think is going to happen to him? Are they trying to punish you through him?

CHEN (through translator): You can already see what's happened to him. It's clear they want to convict him.

COOPER: Your mother's also still in China. There's reports your brother actually escaped illegal detention back in his home village. Do you worry about them as well?

CHEN (through translator): Of course I'm very worried. You can see their retribution against my family since my escape has continued and been intensified.

COOPER: Do you regret speaking out? Given all you've been through, arrested for four years, illegally detained in your home, you and your wife, do you regret speaking out?

CHEN (through translator): No, I have no regrets. But I also want to thank all the friends who helped me, including my family members and supporters. I'm very concerned about the safety of some of them.

COOPER (voice-over): Chen, his wife, and two children have only been in the US for less than a week. Whether he'll ever be able to return to China is unclear. He vows he will continue to speak out.

CHEN (through translator): I don't feel much pressure. It's just a matter of time. I've only been here for a short time. If the pressure in Shandong couldn't silence me, I don't think any other pressure would be able to silence me.

COOPER: Anderson Cooper, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: You've watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson. When we come back, they say you either love it or hate it, and it's always pretty controversial. We're going to take a look at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: As we gear up for this weekend's Eurovision Song Contest, Spanish singer Pastora Soler joked that she was urged to go for "nul point" for fears that her country won't be able to afford staging the contest next year if she were to win.

Well, when you think that it costs upwards of $200 million to host the competition, it's not really that funny, is it?

Well, love it or loathe it, the contest will be all over our televisions screens on Saturday night. CNN's Neil Curry takes a look at what it takes to win.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC - "WATERLOO" BY ABBA)

NEIL CURRY, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Abba's 1974 hit "Waterloo" is considered by many to be the best Eurovision song ever written. The winner of this year's title is decided on Saturday night.

It's a battle for hearts and votes. Eurovision contestants have been busy ahead of Saturday's final making pop promos and performing live.

At this year's Eurovision party in Amsterdam, catchy key changes and powerful vocals were on display.

(WOMAN HOLDING LONG NOTE)

CURRY: This kind of exposure to the huge Eurovision audience allows a song to resonate across the continent before Baku, but not all of them can make songwriting history.

With a Grammy, Golden Globe, and multiple other accolades, American songwriter Diane Warren wanted to add Eurovision glory to her list of achievements. As the author behind hits such as Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," Warren knows how to craft a hit song.

(DIANE WARREN SINGING "I DON'T WANT TO MISS A THING")

DIANE WARREN, SONGWRITER: When anybody ever asks me what's your secret? I show up, I go to work every day. I don't know what my creative process is, I just do it.

CURRY: After a succession of disappointing results, in 2009, the United Kingdom called upon Warren and stage musical maestro Andrew Lloyd Webber to put their reputations on the line and fight for a UK win.

WARREN: We wrote a song called "It's My Time." I was really proud of the song we wrote, and it was just -- it was a wonderful experience. I went to Russia for it. It's just crazy. It's over the top. But it's -- that's what so great about it. It's like, I hate sports, but it was like being at the best kind of sporting event.

CURRY: "It's My Time" wasn't quite Warren's time. The uplifting ballad finished in a respectable fifth place, but unable to challenge the legacy of this man in black.

A three-time winner as both performer and writer, Johnny Logan is affectionately known as "Mr. Eurovision."

(JOHNNY LOGAN SINGING)

JOHNNY LOGAN, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Eurovision's the vehicle, because that was an opportunity to be seen all over Europe. Winning the song contest was like, just a dream. And when the voting happened and I won, it was just like an explosion. All the stress and everything just disappeared. It's like winning the lottery or something, just -- it was more than I dreamt about.

CURRY: The secret to Logan's Eurovision success is his ability to communicate heartache within the three minutes allowed for each entry.

His second win in 1987 with "Hold Me Now," and third in 1992 with "Why Me" were both songs of love.

LOGAN: Everybody experiences heartbreak, and I think it's something that -- it's a real, instant emotion, and it's something people feel on a fairly regular basis. Joy, too, but I think that tragedy and luck are two arrows from the same bow.

CURRY: Logan believes that a Eurovision win can be simplified to three rules.

LOGAN: Great songs, great melody, great singer. If you do that, and you put all three things together, it's just the works.

CURRY: Neil Curry, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: We think Neil was taking it a bit seriously. Because it's quite a lot of fun, that Eurovision Song Contest, we all look forward to it, Saturday night.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines, of course, here on CNN are up next, that is, after this very short break. Stay with us.

END