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Julian Assange Granted Asylum In Ecuador; Typhoon Set To Make Landfall In Southern China; Lebanese Clan Kidnaps 26 Syrian Rebels; Robin Van Persie Sold To Manchester United

Aired August 16, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet. And we begin in Syria where the United Nations says millions need humanitarian aid as civilians continue to suffer from the violence.

Also ahead WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is just moments away from finding out if Ecuador will grant him asylum. Now the case has already strained relations between Ecuador and the UK. We'll be live with the announcement.

And a life and death decision. A man campaigning for the right to end his own life awaits what could be a historic court ruling.

The Syrian people have suffered too much, too long. We cannot go on this way. Now those words from the UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. The Syria's civil war shows no sign of ending. Human Rights Watch is condemning the Syrian regime where a fighter jet bombed a residential neighborhood in the northern town of Azaz.

Now the group says two bombs obliterated an entire street of houses, killing more than 40 people. Survivors combed through the rubble looking for loved ones. And a rebel commander tells CNN at least 60 civilians were killed or wounded when shells hit people lined up outside a bakery nearby Aleppo today.

Not even a hospital and its patients are safe. Ben Wedeman and his crew witnessed an hour long assault by military fighter jet on a rebel held hospital in Aleppo. And Ben filed this report for us from the area. And a warning, what you're about to see is disturbing.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 12 year old Mohammed screams out in fear and pain. Shrapnel ripped through his right leg in an air raid on the Dara Shifa (ph) hospital in Aleppo's Shar (ph) district. Three passers by, including Mohammed, were wounded in the attack.

The task of treating the wounded here harder by the day, nurse Abuse Mael (ph) tells me.

"Half of our equipment no longer works," he says.

For almost an hour, Syrian government jet bombed and strafed the area, twice striking the clearly marked hospital. Out of view, rebels fired back fruitlessly at the plane.

In an entrance way across the street from the hospital, the blood is still wet where Mohammed, wounded, took cover. Nerves still on edge at the possibility the plane will strike yet again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go in. Go in. Go in. Go in. Go in.

WEDEMAN: Anyone in the next (inaudible) entrance.


WEDEMAN: Mohammed's brother, Abdul (ph), fled the emergency ward in panic after the second attack on the hospital and is afraid to go back in.

The shelling and air raids have no rhyme or reason. The rounds smash into crowded neighborhoods far from the front line.

Mohammed Rajaal (ph) was in a back room when his apartment was hit. He had sent his family away just a few days before.

"Thank god they weren't here," he says, "but what am I going to do? Where am I going to live?"

His neighbors clear away the rubble with exhausted resignation.

The random nature of the shelling and the air raids on the rebel controlled parts of Aleppo means that any building, anywhere in this part of the city could be hit at any time. In fact, this building was hit just 20 minutes ago.

For many of the residents of Aleppo, it's simply time to leave.

Some go by foot, most by car of pickup, taking the bare minimum.

"The shelling," answers Abu Ahmed when I asked why he and his family are leaving. "We don't know where it's coming from.

Their destination is what they hope is a safer part of the town. But here, no place is truly safe.


LU STOUT: And that was Ben Wedeman filing that report from Aleppo.

Now the violence in Syria is spreading across its borders to Lebanon. A Lebanese clan says it has kidnapped 26 Syrians in Lebanon and it's threatening to take more hostages. Now the group says it's in retaliation for the kidnapping of one of its kinsman in Damascus by Syrian rebels. And now Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations are urging their citizens to get out of Lebanon immediately for their own safety.

Let's get more about this from our Nick Paton-Walsh. He is monitoring developments from Beirut and he joins us now.

And Nick, the Syrian turmoil is just spilling into Lebanon now with the abduction of multiple Syrian nationals there. What's the latest?

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this morning it does appear to have quieted. The major concern overnight was that the protests blocking the main artery roads in the capital towards the airport may still be blocked in the morning. This morning that dissipated. They appeared to be open, secured by the military according to state media. The Lebanese president Michel Sulaiman coming out and saying that 11 Lebanese pilgrims, abducted as part of this tit for tat kidnappings are in good health.

And it is understood that the Mikdad clan are now speaking -- or at least contemplating speaking to the Red Cross to try and mediate through this.

But what really happened yesterday was a flaring, I think, of panic and fear that these -- this sort of sectarian violence may sustain, may grow out of control, may spiral, and that could drag Lebanon back into its dark past. The Mikdad clan themselves powerful in the eastern Bekaa Valley in southern Beirut here, said many of them to be allied to Hezbollah, one of the strongest political and in many ways militant forces in this country as well.

It was clear from how they reacted to yesterday wanted some political clout from it, but at the end of the day they want to see the release of their relative. And that will now form part of the complicated standoff with these 20 plus alleged Syrian Free Army soldiers or so in their custody, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Can you tell us more about the el-Mikdad clan who is behind these abductions? Who they are? Where they're from? What their objectives are?

PATON-WALSH: As I said, they're predominately based in the eastern Bekaa Valley and in southern Beirut. They are -- apparently have allegiances, some of them, with the Hezbollah group here in Lebanon. It's clear they wanted high profile political discussions after they took these Free Syrian soldiers to occur. It's clear they want some political clout from this. But their final objective is the release of their relative. And it really spirals into this weeks long now pattern of fear of these tit for tat abductions causing that sectarian violence in evidence across the border to spill over into Lebanon, Kristie.

LU STOUT: OK. Nick Paton-Walsh there joining us live from Beirut. Thank you.

Now let's go back to the story that we brought you about the hospital in Aleppo that was under attack. Ben Wedeman joins me now from western Syria. And Ben, in your story we meet Mohammed who sent his family away just days before his house was hit in Aleppo. That was, truly a miracle. Where did his family go? And Ben, where do families displaced by the violence in Syria go to find shelter and to seek refuge?

WEDEMAN: Well, Mohammed told me that his family had gone to a village outside Aleppo. But really they're going to three different sort of places. Some are going to other parts of rebel held Aleppo that are not under such intense bombardment, others are going to government controlled areas, some like Mohammed's family, go to villages outside of Aleppo in both rebel held and government held areas. And then even more in fact go down this road and straight into Turkey where they are sent immediately to refugee camps.

Obviously in all these cases there are hardships. Those who are sent to other parts of Aleppo, they have to pay rent. Many people don't have much money because they haven't worked in well over a month. Going to a refugee camp in Turkey means that sort of you lose everything. You are living in a tent under very difficult conditions. This time of year is very hot. Water is scarce. In a few months, winter is going to set in. It's going to be cold and rainy.

So, really, people are stuck, Kristie, between a rock and a hard place. They stay in Aleppo. They stay in their homes. There's a very good chance if they could be killed in an air raid in one of these random, this random shelling that goes on around the clock. In fact, today it's been particularly intense in many of the areas of Aleppo we're in.

If they leave, they're really destitute. They're at the mercy -- or they have to live off the kindness of strangers, off of refugee agencies, charities and others. So it's really a horrific situation regardless of where you go in this -- in Syria -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And Ben, also in your story, and we're re-airing the footage just now. We see the video of yet again a Syrian fighter jet in attack mode, you know just another proof there of Syrian troops fighting from the skies. Unfortunately we're going to have to wrap up the discussion there. But Ben Wedeman joining us live from western Syrian, thank you for that.

Now we have to go straight to Quito in Ecuador now. The foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, he is expected to announce a decision on the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's request for asylum. It's a decision that's supposed to be coming in right now. Let's listen in to that.

RICARDO PATINO, ECUADOR FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Good morning ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for being here today. I'm going to make a statement on behalf of the Ecuadorian government in two parts. First of all, making reference to the -- to what has been denounced by the Ecuadorian government yesterday in relation to the threat we have received from the United Kingdom related to our diplomatic mission in London. And secondly, I will speak about the answer of Ecuador to Mr. Julian Assange diplomatic asylum request.

First, we will like as the Ecuadorian government, we like to ratify and to stress our position in relation to the threat that yesterday, Wednesday 15 of August, the UK government made against our country. We cannot allow that process of steady and friendly conversations with the United Kingdom in relation to this case and request of political asylum by Mr. Assange is hindered. And official communication that is an assault on Ecuador.

We cannot also allow that the reaction of the spokesmen of the United Kingdom in relation to our complaint becomes a (inaudible) statement that they only having (inaudible) comments. The document handed officially to our government stated the following in (inaudible) comments: "you must be aware that there is a legal basis in the UK, diplomatic and consular premises act of 1987 which enables us to take action and to arrest Mr. Assange within the Ecuadorian embassy premises in London." And it also says, "sincerely, we hope we don't have to do this, but if you don't sort this matter in relation to Mr. Assange within your premises, this is an avenue open to us."

This is more or less -- this means more or less I'm going to hit you hard, but if you behave well maybe I'm not going to hit you that hard. It depends on how you behave.

It seems that the government has expressed an open intention to use at their discretion law and rule tools and also the use of force to resolve the situation that until now has been dealt with on a friendly basis and through diplomatic means.

Throughout the process of our talk in relation to Mr. Assange's case, the United Kingdom has not give in at all in helping to find a solution satisfying all parties. Their message yesterday is a clear attack against Ecuador as a sovereign nation to the site on these diplomatic issues and on their request of asylum without coercion or manipulation of any kind.

It's also astonishing that amongst -- that was denounced before the UN council, the United Kingdom is a permanent signatory member. This intrusive intervention is unacceptable. It is also press note issued on the 29 of November 2011. In this case the affected nation was the United Kingdom and it's a legal tool the Vienna convention section (inaudible) was applied. And this treaty establishes the non-breaching the diplomatic premises that they must be respected and protected by those countries signatories.

We also have the mention their resolution of the United Nations council for 5/7 of 1979 and for '61 of the 31 December '79 in the light of the crisis of the U.S. embassy in Sudan, again, the legal instrument used was the Vienna Convention agreement in relation to diplomatic personnel and premises on their country. And so we cannot accept double standards used by the British authorities.

There isn't any law that can be used to justify in no case instruction in an interference in diplomatic presence anywhere in the world, let alone be used to send threats and blackmail against the willingness of a sovereign country. So the outcome is extremely dangerous for any country. And so Ecuador requested immediately the regional bodies for a meeting of all the heads of state in order to deal with this threat and to coordinate an answer in the whole area.

To deal with this I've answered clearly in the face of this action, Educador wants to thank publicly all the support it's being given and solidarity by so many other countries and heads of state of political activists sent to us and given to us in the afternoon.

The U.S. government spokesmen have not acted as they should. They have not apologized to us. They have denied the statements. We are going to give a firm answer applied to the principles of right and respect between countries. Ecuador is a free and democratic state. We are not subject to blackmail from outside. We are sovereign in our political and judicial decisions. And we also (inaudible) a position to respect to international law and rights to establish and to have dialogue amongst governments to solve conflicts.

This statement has to do with what happened yesterday. I'd like just to read the press note of the 29 November 2011 in relation to the attack the United -- to the UK (inaudible). The UK mission in Iran, the communicado (ph) was given by the UN security council chairman. Let's not forget the UK is a permanent signatory and member to the United Nation council and has a right to a veto. From the chairman Mr. (inaudible) the following, to members -- the council members, I want to say this so the UK government doesn't forget it. The members condemn strongly all the attacks against the UK embassy in Tehran, Iran, that is also in instructions in the diplomatic mission causing serious damages to members of the security council make an appeal to respect of the fundamental principles of non- breaching the consular premises and governments whose embassies are in their territories as is stated in the Vienna convention of '61 relating to diplomatic relationships and also the 1953 convention.

All the measures necessary must be taken in order to protect the diplomatic and consular missions against all damage and instruction and to avoid disturbance of peace or anything causing detriment.

We express our consternation against such attacks. And we call for the Iranian authorities to protect the diplomatic missions in its country and the foreign personnel and to respect its international obligations in this matter.

And now we go to make the statements in relations to the request made by Mr. Julian Assange.

On the 29 of June, 2012 an Australian citizen, Mr. Julian Assange, went to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to request diplomatic protection by the Ecuadorian government in accordance to the diplomatic rules. He based his request, because he feared political persecution he could suffer in a third state after being extradited to Sweden and then from there be sent to the third country.

The Ecuadorian government have acted seriously and have assessed and examined all the aspects in relation to it, especially the arguments presented by Mr. Assange in order to rack up the fear he has upon a situation that he perceives as a threat to his life, his freedom, and his personal safety. It's important to think allowed that Mr. Assange decided to seek asylum in Ecuador, because of the accusations against him of espionage and also treason, so he fears for his life and the possibility of being handed over to the U.S. authorities by the British and Swedish, or Australian authorities, because he said Mr. Assange that country, the U.S., is persecuted him after he disclosed classified U.S. information.

He requested that he's a victim of persecution in several countries that arises not only from his actions and ideas, but also out of his work publishing classified information that is compromising and revealing the corruption and abuses of human rights of citizens throughout the world. And therefore they invitation of political -- the -- he's facing a situation that is imminent danger in order to explain the fear he feels of his political persecution from to stop this becomes breach of his rights and because of risks to his personal integrity and safety, the Ecuadorian government considers the following:

It finds that Julian Assange is a professional communication who has been (inaudible) internationally because of his fight against -- for freedom of speech and for human rights in general.

Secondly, that Mr. Assange has shared with the world privileged, plus inside information (inaudible) from different sources that affected organization's, countries and officers.

Thirdly, that there are serious indications of retaliation by countries who produced information disclosed to Mr. Assange and retaliations can be taken, which could erase his integrity and life for that despite the diplomatic action by the Ecuadorian government, those countries whose guarantees have been requested have denied requesting.

And fifth, that there is certainty by the Ecuadorian authorities that the extradition of Mr. Assange is likely to happen to a third country outside the European Union without any guarantees to his personal integrity and security.

Sixth, that the judicial evidence shows clearly that if extradited to the U.S., Mr. Assange will not have a fair trial. He will be tried by a special, or even military courts. And cruel treatment and the (inaudible) will be applied and he may be sentenced to life imprisonment or death.

Seventh, that Mr. Assange must answer by the Sweden investigation, but Ecuador is aware that Swedish attorney's office has been -- has (inaudible) attitude in relation to his defense.

Eighth, that Ecuador is convinced that the legal process rights have ended.

Ninth, that Ecuador has (inaudible) that Mr. Assange has no protection that should be given by the state he belong to.

Tenth, after several public and diplomatic statements made by the British officers and Swedish -- and the U.S. offices, we have inferred that those governments will not respect the international treaties and conventions and that they will apply first of all internal and domestic laws that are not universal.

And eleventh, if Mr. Assange is (inaudible) arrest in Sweden, a change (inaudible) will evolve, there will not be protection in order to avoid extradition to a third country.

And therefore, the Ecuadorian government has considered all these arguments support the fear of Mr. Assange that he will be a victim of political persecution as a result of his defense of freedom of speech and of press freedom, and also his reputation of abuses from those in power in certain countries. Mr. Assange thinks that susceptible situation can arise at any moment and he fear for his life and personal integrity and safety.

All this fear has led him to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. In section 41 of the Ecuadorian constitution, it is defined clearly that we must have deep asylum, this contains the rights to asylum in accordance to the international law according to the section it's (inaudible) that those who are seeking asylum will be granted special protection to exercise their rights. And our government will respect the principle of not giving them back.

The right to asylum is also acknowledged in section 4.7 of the Ecuadorian act which establishes that the foreign ministry has the right to apply and give asylum according to international law. It is important to highlight that our country in the last year has guaranteed asylum to a lot of people who have sought asylum. We have respected the principle of not sending them back, neither discriminating them. And also we have taken measures to grant asylum in accordance to each specific situation of those requesting asylum, especially Colombians fleeing the armed conflict in their country.

The United Nations has expressed support for the Ecuadorian policy for granting asylum and for the work we've done after integrating those seeking asylum in Ecuador into the society.

Ecuador has also worked with judicial organizations. And we believe that granting asylum is a fundamental factor. So this principle should be applied in accordance with international law.

So, as recognized by all the states and as stipulated in several international instruments this are the following:

Aslyum is a human -- is a fundamental human right that leads to obligations for all the states and governments. Diplomatic asylum, or refuge and the rights to be extradited or sent back. These are human rights based on the same principles of human protection, non- discrimination, not giving the person back for his race, sex, belief, or religion, or his political opinion, for his (inaudible), or any other condition, or any other singular criteria.

The protection happens when the state or government protecting consider there is risk of fear, that the person seeking asylum could be the victim of political persecution so the government has to assess the causes of asylum, and in the case of extradition to assess the evidence.

The asylum is a fundamental human right. And it belongs to the system of imperative rules and rights recognized by the international community that do not admit agreements to the contrary. The lack of international legislation of governments cannot be used to limit, or to deny the right to asylum.

Ecuador considers that the right applicable to Mr. Julian Assange covers all the principles, norms, and mechanisms as stated and are stipulated in all the international human rights instruments within the right to seek, to find, and to be granted asylum. Out of political reasons the conventions that regulate the right to asylum and to refugees not to be sent back or given back when there is founded fear of political persecution the convention that regulates the right to extradition from the recognized it when there is also the element of political persecution.

There is no doubt that the state or international governments have tools and the obligation to provide asylum and protection to those persons persecuted for political reasons and have expressed their willingness to establish judicial institution to safeguard human rights in a practice that gives these obligations an imperative character as they are linked to protection, respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Some of these instruments are mentioned as follows: The United Nations charter of 1945, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the American Declaration of Rights of 1948, the Geneva Convention of 1949, the Refugee Status Convention of 1951, and also New York Protocol of 1967, the Diplomatic Asylum Convention of 1954, the asylum of 1954, the European Agreement for Extradition of 1957, the 23/12 Declaration of 1967, the Vienna Convention of Rights of 1969 that establishes that the rules and principles that are fair amount for international law cannot contradict itself, and if there is a conflict between one of the rules that arises a new ruling for existing agreements in conflict with this rule is to be nullified and ended.

It also adds that the application of these section leads to authority of a state to demand its fulfillment for the international court of law even without the requirements of the state being questioned.

Also, the American convention of Human Rights of 1969, the European Convention for Repressing Terrorism in 1967. The state -- the required a state to have the capabilities to refuse extradition if there is a risk the person can be punished and persecuted because of his political opinion and also the Inter-American Convention of Extradition of 1981, the African Charter if '81, the Cartagena Declaration of 1954 and also the charter -- the European Charter for fundamental rights of 2000 -- the Ecuadorian government thinks it's important to highlight the norms and principles and knowledge in the international law stated and in other multilateral agreements prevail over the internal rights of the state, because they are based on a universal law, intangible principles that should be respected for the protection of human rights against attitudes by a single state which will lack efficiency to the international community and so that the respect of human rights is consolidated.

On the other hand, since Mr. Julian Assange requested political asylum, lots of dialogue has been happened between Ecuador, Sweden, and the U.S. And during these talks our country has appealed to the UK so that guarantees are given so the Mr. Assange can face, without any obstacles, the legal -- his legal case in Sweden.

These guarantees include that he is never extradited to a third country from Sweden, there is a guarantee that he's not extradited to the U.S. Unfortunately, and despite all the efforts, the United Kingdom never showed any commitment to reach political compromise. The lawyers representing Mr. Assange requested Swedish authorities to consider the statements made by Mr. Assange. Ecuador provided the statement of Mr. Assange to the Swedish authorities in order to facilitate their judicial process that is happening in Sweden.

This is a legal measure, legally possible, which has been used by Sweden before. And Sweden did not agree.

On the other hand, Ecuador also wanted the Swedish government to provide guarantees so that Mr. Assange is not extradited to the U.S. Again, the Swedish government denied any commitment in relation to this.

Finally, some communication was sent to the U.S. in order to find out about their position in relation to Mr. Assange. One, whether there existed a legal process ongoing to (inaudible) this trial against Mr. Julian Assange.

Two, in the case of the previous being true, what kind of legislation, and under which conditions which will be the maximum penalty to which he will be subjected.

Three, whether they intend to extradite Mr. Assange to the U.S.

And the answer given by the U.S. has been that they cannot provide information in relation to this to Mr. Assange's case alleging that it's a matter between the Ecuador and the United Kingdom.

With all this, the Ecuadorian government has felt they need to protect those seeking asylum. And so we have decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Mr. Assange.

So Mr. Assange, after the petition was made to the presidential republic, after reaching documents signed on the 12 of June from London, and again on the 25 of the June. So the Ecuadorian government, after making a fair...

LU STOUT: OK. That was the Ecuador foreign minister Ricardo Patino speaking at length there in Quito.

Now the headline, the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has been granted asylum in Ecuador. Mr. Patino, leading up to that moment when he made that announcement that was followed by applause. He said that Assange could be extradited on to the U.S. if the UK gives him to Sweden, and that the U.S., quote, "would not give him a free trial."

Now Assange, he has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June after he put in that request for political asylum. The Ecuadorian foreign minister, we also heard him angrily addressing the British government, the British foreign office earlier said that the UK has a legal duty to extradite Assange even if he is granted political asylum. And you heard him moments ago, Mr. Patino's response was this, quote, "throughout the process of our talks, the UK has not given at all in helping to find a solution that satisfies all parties. Their message yesterday was," again this is in his words, "a clear attack to Ecuador as a sovereign nation."

Now the Ecuadorian foreign minister, he also added that, quote, there isn't any law to justify an interference in diplomatic premises anywhere in the world.

Now again, Julian Assange, he has been granted political asylum by Ecuador. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June requesting political asylum. And he has been granted that. It's not clear if the UK will allow him to leave.

Our Atika Schubert, she is reporting outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London and she joins us now.

And Atika, first, has the news reached there, because I know that there are a number of protesters and Assange supporters there.

ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are a number of protesters. And there was a little bit of celebrating earlier when it certainly seemed like the Ecuador was building the case for granting asylum. But it doesn't -- it's not clear that fundamentally changes the situation at the moment. It may be good news for Assange and his supporters that he's been granted asylum by Ecuador, but he's still stuck inside the embassy there. And there's no indication that even though he has been granted asylum that if he steps out he won't be arrested by British police. And this is the dilemma that's still out there.

Now Ecuador has pointed out, they say that they feel that Britain has not been helpful. They have asked Sweden to question Assange inside the embassy. That has been rejected by Sweden.

And just to remind you that the allegations that he faces are basically allegations of sexual assault of unlawful coercion in Sweden by two different women.

So he has not been charged with anything yet. He's simply wanted for questioning. So even if he has been granted asylum, it doesn't resolve this problem that he, one needs to be questioned by Sweden. He can't leave the embassy. And it's not clear even if he does somehow leave the embassy, that he won't be arrested by British police and extradited to Sweden.

So even if there was asylum granted, it doesn't clarify anything in terms of where Assange stands legally.

LU STOUT: Atika, is there any way Julian Assange can get himself out of the embassy, out of London, out of the country and on to Ecuador. Bottom line, even though he's been granted political asylum in Ecuador, can he even leave?

SCHUBERT: I think the short answer to that is no. There are -- there are possible ways, for example Ecuador could make Julian Assange a diplomat to the United Nations, but that is a very long and involved process, which will give him enough diplomatic immunity, for example to leave the country. But again, these don't seem like feasible options.

If he simply leaves on his own, if he just walks out the door, then he's on British soil and British police could arrest him.

So it means that effectively even though he's been granted asylum in Ecuador, he can't leave the embassy. There's no way for him to get to Ecuador without crossing over into British soil and facing arrest.

LU STOUT: All right. Fascinating case. What's going to happen next? It's all up in the air. Atika Schubert joining us live for this breaking story. Thank you very much indeed.

Again, Julian Assange, he's been granted political asylum in Ecuador. Unclear whether he will be allowed to leave the embassy there in London, even leave the country.

Now up next here on News Stream, we'll look at another case being closely watched in Britain and around the world. A severely disabled man is fighting for the right to end his own life. We'll have more on his landmark case when we come back.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now this is a landmark case that is both heartbreaking and highly divisive. Now today, British court will essentially decide whether Tony Nicklinson should be allowed to die.

Now paralyzed from the neck down after a severe stroke seven years ago, he says that life has become miserable. And he wants to ensure that doctors will be immune from prosecution if they help him end his own life.

Let's bring in Matthew Chance from our London bureau. And Matthew, the law against assisted suicide there in the UK is well established, so how has Nicklinson and his legal team argued their case?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a very important challenge to that legal situation in Britain when it comes to assisted suicide. It's not currently allowed. This challenge to the legislation goes even further than previous challenges as well, because it's not as if Tony Nicklinson would be able to take, for instance, a lethal cocktail of medicines if he were given that medicine by a doctor, which is the normal situation in assisted suicide cases. He's not capable of actual physical movement, so it would involve somebody, a doctor injecting him with those substances potentially, and that would be tantamount to murder in this country.

And so if this challenge is accepted. And we're expected to get a decision over the course of the next 15, 20 minutes or so in the high court here in London, then it would be a major turnaround in the law in Britain. And that's why many observers of this, many analysts, including his own legal team, are not expressing a great deal of optimism that we'll see a positive result in terms of the challenge of Tony Nicklinson.

And so it's something that's being very widely watched. It's -- Tony Nicklinson is somebody who is at the forefront of this debate about the right to die with dignity at a time of his own choosing. He does have this condition. He's been in it for seven years. He described his life as a living nightmare. He says he's of sound mind and wants to bring it to an end.

We're waiting now for the next 15, 20 minutes as I say to hear what the high court has to say about whether that can take place.

LU STOUT: The decision to come out very soon.

And Matthew, what if he is not allowed to die? Has Tony Nicklinson made any comment about what the future holds for him if he does not win this case?

CHANCE: Yeah, there have been indications, statements that he's given in the past -- he's able to communicate through an electronic device which reads slight eye movements and lip movements he's able to make -- and he's managed to communicate to the outside world via that machine over Twitter and in other ways, too. And he's indicated he will go to appeal. His legal team have said that as well. And he won't give up.

He's also said there are avenues open to him such as starvation, which he may consider to bring his life to an end, but obviously that would be something that would be agonizing and not something that anybody wants to see.

LU STOUT: This is such a heart wrenching case. It's a highly divisive one as well. How many people across the UK support suicide as a legitimate choice for a person to make?

CHANCE: Well, suicide has been legal in Britain since the early 1960s. So it's not an issue of whether somebody can commit suicide or not. Unfortunately, people do that all the time, but obviously there's a school of thought that believes that's a failure in the sort of social welfare in a country when people commit suicide and they should be subjected to therapy to try to get them out and get a different perspective on their lives. So suicide itself isn't illegal.

What's at stake here is essentially the murder laws, because for somebody to administer, you know, assisted suicide or to help somebody commit suicide in this way under British law at the moment, that's considered to be murder. So it's the review of the murder legislation that it's currently in dispute.

There have been instances in the past where people have been allowed to die. For instance, individuals who have been severely ill, kept on ventilators for instance, doctors have been committed after pleas from the family to turn the ventilating machines off.

But this is something very different. You know, Tony Nicklinson is of sound mind. He can communicate with the outside world. He says he's made this rational decision to end his life when he sees fit, but that would involve bringing in somebody else as well, so it's not a simple case of suicide, it's basically allowing somebody to end somebody else's life.

LU STOUT: Well, Matthew, thank you for lending clarity for this sensitive story. Again, a decision is going to be out 15 to 20 minutes from now. We'll be sure to bring you up when the decision is released. Matthew Chance there reporting for us.

You are watching News Stream live from Hong Kong. And let's take a look outside of our studios here at Victoria Harbor as we await a typhoon making landfall, if not already, here in the southern tip of China.

You're watching News Stream. We'll be back after this.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the transfer of a star striker sending shock waves throughout the world of football. Let's head to London where Pedro Pinto has got all the details -- Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I do, indeed, Kristie. Robin Van Persie is leaving Arsenal to join Premier League rivals Manchester United. A deal was agreed between the clubs on Wednesday evening. And the Dutch international is expected to complete the move later today after passing a medical and agreeing personal terms as well.

Van Persie leaves the Gunners after eight seasons. He was the Premier League's top scorer in 2012 as he hit the back of the net 30 times. The 29 year old was in the last year of his contract and had already expressed his desire to leave Arsenal. That's why Arsene Wenger decided to cash in on him now. The deal is reportedly worth $37 million.

Van Persie was Arsenal's captain last season. And he's the club's fifth straight skipper to leave in strange circumstances, we could say. Check out these guys. That's right, Patric Viera and Thierry Henry were both surprisingly sold before they hit the age of 30. William Galas right here, he was stripped of the captaincy before he was released. And then he joined Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham. Cesc Fabregas left last season after seasons of speculation linking him with his local club Barcelona. He eventually went to Barca.

With Van Persie's departure, Arsenal are now without their club captain for a fifth time.

The year's final grand slam tournament won't feature Rafael Nadal. The Spanish star announced he was pulling out of the U.S. Open on Wendesday. Nadal has been battling tendonitis in his knees. It's a problem that's dogged him for months and forced him to pull out of the summer Olympics. Nadal was hoping to recover in time to play at Flushing Meadows, but in a statement, he said that he simply is not ready to play.

A few weeks ago, Nadal told me how tough it has been to deal with his knee injuries this summer.


RAFAEL NADAL, TENNIS STAR: It's one of the tougher decisions that I take in my career, because always play Olympics was a big goal for me, was a big -- emotions always because there's only one time every four years, because it's the most important event in the world of sport, and I was very excited to represent my country.

PINTO: This is a low point, no doubt, that you've had. You've had many high points this season: the clay court season was fantastic. The victory over your rival Novak Djokovic at the French Open was historic, a record seventh title.

NADAL: Last month was a hard month for me, because my knee didn't respond well after Roland Garos. I had a lot of problems. But since the beginning of the season, in Australia and then Roland Garos, I think I had a great season, one of my best seasons. The level of tennis was very high.


PINTO: A tough time for Rafael Nadal. It's only the second time the Spaniard has pulled out of a grand slam tournament. He had to withdraw from Wimbledon in 2009 also because of his ongoing knee issues.

Kristie, we just hope to see him back on court as soon as possible.

LU STOUT: That's right. We all do. Pedro Pinto there, thank you so much indeed.

Now Typhoon Kai-Tak is right now on China's shores. And here in Hong Kong we are definitely feeling the effects of the storm.

Mari Ramos joins us now with more from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORREPSONDENT: Hey, Kristie, it's been quite a light show across Hong Kong. At this time yesterday you had pretty intense thunder storms. Right now things are actually pretty quiet considering how close the storm actually is.

Let's go ahead and take a look outside. Yeah, look at the wind there kind of going pretty quickly.

You know what, as far as the wind is concerned over Hong Kong the strongest wind so far has been close to 118 kilometers per hour, so that's almost at typhoon strength. And at the airport, right now it's about 43 kilometers per hour, that just gives you an example of what we've seen.

And because the storm is a little bit more compact, those outer bands are actually farther out toward the south. So you guys have had some pretty strong rain and thunderstorms, but it's kind of come and gone. And you can see the clouds there in the background. What a beautiful, beautiful view. It almost looks like a post card.

Come back over to the weather map. So the storm is still way out here, but when you see right over here the circulation starting to get a little bit closer, so some of that rain will be affecting you. It won't be as heavy as what we were talking about yesterday, because the storm has moved a bit farther toward the south and toward the west. So that's good news for you, but bad news for western parts of Wendong (ph). Very heavy rain now for western Wendong (ph) and back over toward Hainan and even northern parts of Vietnam with this storm.

So you've got to remember that a tropical cyclone is not one point on a map, it's a large system that affects a wide portion of area. And that is precisely what we're looking at right now.

The center of the storm should be making landfall in western Wendong (ph). It's taking a little longer because the track that it's taking.

I want to show you something very quickly right back over here. You see that track kind of went up and then went back to the south and now it's going kind of back up. So this is the track we're expecting it to take as it moves closer to land.

It still could intensify a little, because it's still out over the water, still a minimal typhoon. The main threat, aside from the wind, will of course be the rain, which in Hong Kong could be maybe 5 centimeters? That's still significant. Everybody else could get even more than that.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: All right. Mari Ramos there. Thank yo.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.