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Europe Searches For Escaped Gangster; North Korea Pauses To Celebrate; Gitmo Prisoner Writes Op-ed; At Least 25 Killed in Iraqi Bombings; Cuban Rappers Make Political Statement; Big Step Towards Allowing Women Drivers in Saudi Arabia

Aired April 15, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Welcome, everyone.

MALVEAUX: We begin in North Korea where threats of nuclear war give way to celebrations today. They are marking the birthday of North Korea's late founder, Kim Il-Sung. His grandson is the current leader, Kim Jong-Un, and he appeared publicly for the first time now in weeks. Secretary of State John Kerry had a message for him. If he wants to hold talks with world powers, he needs to ditch North Korea's nuclear program.

HOLMES: In Venezuela, he was once a bus driver, now he will be the president. Shortly before his death, Hugo Chavez tapped Nicolas Maduro to be his successor. Using that leverage, Maduro narrowly won yesterday's election.

MALVEAUX: He squeaked by with 50.7 percent of the votes. His opponent, Henrique Capriles, is refusing to concede. He is demanding now a recount.

HOLMES: In China, a four-year-old boy carrying the bird flu virus, but not showing any symptoms. Doctors there are taking a close look at him now to figure out how to treat others, perhaps using him as a case. Two more people have died from bird flu, bringing the total death toll to 13.

MALVEAUX: The World Health Organization is trying to find the source of the infection. It could be China's poultry market. Several cities in eastern China have suspended trading in live poultry.

And in France, and across Europe, the search is now on for a gangster who used explosives to blow his way out of prison. A lot of people talking about this story.

HOLMES: It's an extraordinary -- how do you get explosives into prison? That's what everyone's asking. That's the guy we're talking about there. His name is Redoine Faid. He held four guards at gunpoint at a prison, this is in northern France, before bursting his way to freedom. It all sounds, of course, like something out of a Hollywood movie blockbuster. But this is far from it, actually. MALVEAUX: I want to go live to France. This is where our Dan Rivers is outside that prison. And tell us about -- a little bit about him. And he's a notorious figure in France. And what was he locked up for? And how on earth did he manage?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is a notorious figure, Suzanne. He has courted publicity. As you say, he's said his inspiration for his life of crime was taken from films like (INAUDIBLE) and "Scarface." He's written an autobiography. He's done on camera interviews with French TV channels in the past boasting about what a great armed robber he has been.

He's done 10 years of a 30-year sentence in the past. Right now he'd been in this prison here because he'd broken the terms of his parole while awaiting another trial for master minding, if you like, an armed robbery in which a French policewoman was shot and killed. So some serious -- pretty serious case he was facing. But his publicist said he couldn't stand being in jail for a moment longer and that's why he broke out.

Now, this prison is not a supermax prison, but it is, nevertheless, a detention center. And it's, as you can see, pretty secure. But somehow he managed to get explosives. Enough explosives to blow not just one door, but five consecutive doors off their hinges. The last one of which is right behind me there. You can see they've been repairing it all day, but there are armed guards there now. Pretty menacing guying in ski masks. They weren't there when he came out. He'd taken four people hostage, four guards hostage. He finally made a run for it, got to a local freeway. And there was a getaway car waiting for him and they drove off. That car was later found burned out. And now the trail really has gone cold.

HOLMES: Of course, Dan, the thing now with Europe, it's borderless. I mean you can't like seal off France anymore. I mean he could be in any one of 26 countries, couldn't he?

RIVERS: He could be anywhere from here to the (INAUDIBLE) Danube (ph), exactly. I mean a huge area is open in France. And this is a real issue in cases like this.

Now, Interpol has issued what they call a red notice, an arrest warrant, to try and track him down. And, obviously, across Europe and beyond, they will be on the lookout for him. But, you know, one would think, if he'd orchestrated this level of detail of plan his escape, he will have had a plan of what he was going to do next, of where he was going to go and hide out and lay low.

I think the big question here, as you mention, is, how on earth he got those explosives into the prison in the first place. No one knows how that was done. Clearly someone brought it in. Was it one of his visitors? Was it some sort of inside job with a guard helping him out? That's what they're focusing on right now.

HOLMES: Extraordinary. Dan, thanks so much. Dan Rivers there in Lille in France.

MALVEAUX: You can imagine he had like a network -- he's got to have a network of supporters inside and outside.

HOLMES: Oh, he had to have. Explosives, a gun, four host hostages.

MALVEAUX: I mean, unbelievable.

HOLMES: Yes, he knew what he was doing.


HOLMES: Yes, probably another book when he gets done with it all.

MALVEAUX: Yes, he has another book to write.


MALVEAUX: Korean peninsula. We are watching that very closely. The world watching for the next move by the communist North. This is, of course, comes after weeks of nuclear threats against the United States and South Korea by North Korea. Well, today, as you know, a very big day for the North Koreans.

HOLMES: It is. They're celebrating the birthday of the country's founder, the man they call the eternal president, Kim Il-sung. Our Anna Coren joins us now from the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Anna, North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong-un, he appeared in public for the first time. Everybody's been waiting to see what would happen, the rhetoric building up, and pretty much nothing happened, right?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. But as you say, his first public appearance in weeks following a month-long of war-like rhetoric day after day. He paid his respects at the mausoleum where his grandfather and father both lie in state. And then North Koreans, they turned out in droves to lay wreaths at shrines and monuments around the country.

But, Michael, no rhetoric whatsoever out of Pyongyang and certainly no missiles. Those two Musudan medium-range ballistic missiles are still positioned on the east coast of the country. They are fueled up and ready to go, but so far no movement whatsoever. And analysts sort of say that today would have been highly unlikely for them to fire those missiles because, firstly, they wouldn't want to upstage festivities and, secondly, they wouldn't want room for error. They wouldn't want a failure on such an auspicious day.

MALVEAUX: Anna, do we think that Secretary of State John Kerry, his trip to the region and also his statements about talking to North Korea if they give up their nuclear ambitions, has weighed into this at some point?

COREN: Well, it's interesting, Suzanne, that you ask that because perhaps we are starting to see a sign that maybe his words, his message of diplomacy is finally getting through to Pyongyang. There was some -- quite interesting rhetoric that came out of North Korea yesterday where they made reference to dialogue with South Korea as an empty shell -- the words were an empty shell and that it would have to change its attitude for North Korea to consider entering into talks.

Now, certainly no indication that they're prepare to go to the negotiating table just yet, but they didn't rule it out, which some analysts believe might be a shift in the thinking of Pyongyang. But as you say, John Kerry, he reiterated his offer for diplomacy before he left Tokyo for the United States this afternoon and basically said, we will talk to you if you are serious about denuclearization. The problem being, ,Suzanne is that North Korea has said it is a nuclear state, its nuclear weapons program is not up for sale, it's nonnegotiable. So here in lies the problem.

MALVEAUX: All right, Anna Coren, thank you very much. It's always been a game of carrots and sticks.


MALVEAUX: You know, whether or not they can really influence North Korea's power.

HOLMES: Well, if you're going to predicate talks based on doing away with the one thing that he says he will not do away with, that's not a lot to talk about at the moment.


HOLMES: Yes. We'll see what happens.

MALVEAUX: All right.

HOLMES: And, don't forget, we've got more on the mounting tensions there on the Korean peninsula. A special edition, again, of "The Situation Room" tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Don't miss that.

MALVEAUX: The op-ed is entitled "Gitmo is Killing Me." This is a very powerful piece. It's published in "The New York Times" by a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. And in it he writes, "I've been on a hunger strike since February 10th and have lost well over 30 pounds."

HOLMES: Yes, he says, "I will not eat until they restore my dignity." Now, this prisoner says he's been jailed for more than 11 years, has never received a trial. He's not even being charged with anything, he says. "I could write - I could have been home years ago," he said. "No one seriously thinks I'm a threat, but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a guard for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense." He goes on to say he became sick last month and refused to eat. In the op-ed he describes being force-fed.

MALVEAUX: "They tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night as late as 11:00 p.m."

I want to bring in our Chris Lawrence from the Pentagon to explain this.

Very unusual that you hear from a prisoner of war in an op-ed. How did this come about? And is there any response to what he is going through or what he alleges he is going through inside Gitmo?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This isn't normal, first of all, Suzanne, but there's nothing normal about the situation down at Gitmo, especially recently. I mean just over the weekend, there was violence broke out between some of the inmates and the guards because of what the inmates consider that hunger strike. Basically what had happened, in speaking to some of the officials, is the inmates had disabled some of the cameras in their cells, in their individual cells. And so the decision was made to move them out of these communal areas and put everyone into sort of single cells. That didn't go over so well with some of the prisoners. I'm told at least one of the prisoners was able to fashion a sort of baton made out of shredded water bottles and Scotch taped up. There were some bruises on several of the prisoners in the altercations with the guards. Also, one of the prisoners suffered a laceration. So this has been a period of heightened tension, so to speak, between some of the prisoners who are on this hunger strike and then some of the guards as well.

HOLMES: Yes, Chris, I suppose, politically, it's a difficult one for the U.S. too. It's sort of, how does the U.S. criticize other country's human rights when they've got somebody in their custody saying I haven't even been charged with anything for 11 years. You've been down there. You've seen the conditions there. Tell us about it.

LAWRENCE: Well, let's lay it out. First of all, there are 166 prisoners left right now at Guantanamo Bay. I talked with an official here who said, look, despite what was written in the editorial, he said all of the so-called sold-in-prisoners are long gone. Those are the guys who got ratted out by rivals trying to get them in trouble. He said they're long gone. He said the people who are left now, the 166, are the ones who need to be there. They continue to be a danger.

Of those 166, 43 are determined to be hunger striking right now. But only 13 are being fed intravenously like this prisoner is having done. They say -- the officials here at the Pentagon say most of those 13 just sit in the chair, they get the meals usually twice a day, and it doesn't happen like that. There is no fighting. There is no, you know, sort of altercation. But they say they do follow the Bureau of Prisons protocols in that if they are being detained, they feel they have an obligation to make sure that they are being fed. And if they miss more than nine meals, they're considered to be on a hunger strike and they have to be fed.

MALVEAUX: So, Chris, what are they going to do with this particular detainee? I mean how are they explaining how this has all come about?

LAWRENCE: Well, basically they're pushing back on this whole op-ed. I just want to read a little clip from one of the Pentagon officials pushback on this who say, "unlike those in the press who willfully pass along enemy propaganda under the guise of an editorial, and unlike a few members of the defense bar who would hold their detainee clients up for public curiosity, the department does not discuss these individual detainees who are not currently before the military commissions." So in other words, he's not before a commission right now. But, again, that ties into his argument saying, you know, I've been here for 11 years and I'm still not before trial. HOLMES: Yes, extraordinary. Chris, thanks so much. Appreciate that. Chris Lawrence there at the Pentagon. Really does hurt U.S. in terms of what it can say to other countries about human rights. They can turn around and say that.

MALVEAUX: And it's so controversial. I mean every administration, you know, President Bush, now President Obama, they've been trying to close Gitmo down and it is a very difficult thing for them to do.

HOLMES: It is.

MALVEAUX: I mean lots of negotiations with various countries. So (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: Yes. Indeed.

All right, here's more of what we're working on this hour for AROUND THE WORLD.

MALVEAUX: More back and forth over Jay-z's trip to Cuba. A U.S. senator criticizes him and now a Cuban-American rapper weighing in with a rap of his own. We're going to hear from both.

HOLMES: More rapping.

Also, delivering clean needles to drug users. That's what a group of Canadians are doing. You remember we touched on this last week. We have more. They can barely keep up with demand. We're going to go for a ride on a mobile needle exchange.

MALVEAUX: And for the first time ever, a golfer from Australia. That's right, an Aussie.

HOLMES: Right. Right. Yes. Where? Oh, Australia, yes.

MALVEAUX: Oh, Michael's home country.


MALVEAUX: Putting on the green jacket at the Masters. Going to show you Adam Scott's dramatic win.

HOLMES: Comes on Aussies.


MALVEAUX: Here are some of the stories making news AROUND THE WORLD right now.

In Iraq at least 25 people were killed, more than 170 wounded in a string of bombings. Police say the attacks happened in several cities, including Baghdad.

HOLMES: Yeah. Security checkpoints, Shiite neighborhoods, political offices, they were the targets, all of this coming just days ahead of the country's first elections -- local elections, these are -- since the U.S. troop withdrawal back in 2011. Politicians fear the violence will keep voters from going to the polls, but they hope not.

MALVEAUX: In Egypt the deposed president, Hosni Mubarak. had hoped to be set free today. He's waiting on a retrial of charges of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising that brought him down. He won a petition for release, but now the court says he has to stay behind bars because of other cases against him.

HOLMES: In Washington state, they're still trying to find a man who was carried away by an avalanche over the weekend. You see him on your screen. Mitch Huntgate is his name. He was hiking with friends when the snow came crashing down. They got carried 1,200 feet at speeds reaching more than 50-miles-an-hour. Just imagine that.

That same day, a woman walking her dog was caught in a slide on another mountain. She died of her injuries.

MALVEAUX: And Florida Senator Marco Rubio not happy -- everybody's still talking about this story -- it's very popular -- not happy about Jay-Z and Beyonce's recent trip to Cuba. Rubio, as we know, is Cuban- American and he says Americans traveling to Cuba are just propping up an oppressive dictator.

HOLMES: It's been going on for days now, hasn't it? But it's not the last word on this.

Another prominent Cuban-American from South Florida has something to say, and he's saying it in rhyme. We're talking about the hip hop artist, Pitbull, defending Jay-Z and Beyonce in a new rap.

MALVEAUX: Rafael Romo joins us for all things rapping. and the controversy continues, though. Yes, I mean, everybody's weighing in on this. You can't ask anybody and they've got an opinion on this.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: I'm going to write the screenplay for the movie. It's going to be called "The Politicians Versus the Rappers."

HOLMES: Yeah, right.

ROMO: But, anyway, this is just incredible. The bottom line is that Rubio represents the Cuban exile in Miami, and he says that of all the places that they could have gone to in the world, they chose wrong. They chose Cuba. They chose to support an oppressive regime and that they shouldn't have gone there.

Now, we had him on our "STATE OF THE UNION" show with Candy Crowley. Let's listen to what he had to say.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: There's a rapper in Cuba -- there's a hip hop artist in Cuba who is on a hunger strike and has been persecuted because he has political lyrics in his songs. And I wish they would have met with him. If they really wanted to know what was going on in Cuba, they should have met with some of the people suffering there, not simply smoke cigars and take a stroll down the street.


ROMO: Now, another rapper is entering the scene, this by the name of Armando Christian Perez. You probably know him as Pitbull. He's 32- years-old. He came up with a totally new fresh rap. Let's listen to what he had to say about this controversy.




ROMO: I hear conflicting reports or conflicting messages about this. On the one hand he's saying Cuba is where they will bury me, but on the other hand, he's siding with Jay-Z and Beyonce. And just to remember how this whole thing started, Jay-Z and Beyonce were in Cuba for a week, the first week of April. They toured Havana. They went to different sites that are favorite places for tourists.

And after coming back to the United States and learning that the trip had created quite a bit of controversy, Jay-Z himself came up with a rap. And he, let's say, used some choice words to talk about what Senator Rubio had to say. Let's listen.




ROMO: So, Michael and Suzanne, you hear the reference to President Obama and this rap, the White House reacting, saying that the White House itself or President Obama had nothing to do with this. It's all handled by the Treasury Department.

The Treasury Department saying that this trip by Jay-Z and Beyonce was sanctioned as a cultural exchange trip, and so there's nothing illegal about it.

MALVEAUX: Can I tell you guys how refreshing this is that -- I listen to rap. I listen to hip hop, and they're debating politics now, right?

It is not all about violence. It's not all about misogyny. It's about politics. I think that's really amazing.

ROMO: And I also think there's a disconnect between the younger generations and older generations and you see that within the Cuban community in Miami themselves with the older generation saying that the embargo should stay in place and the younger Cuban-Americans saying maybe it's time to look for an alternative.

But, again, it's always a very controversial and very difficult issue to deal with. HOLMES: Certainly a warm welcome for them in Havana, wasn't it?

Rafi (ph), good to see you, Rafael Romo here in the studio.

MALVEAUX: Rap getting back to its roots, you know, very political. I like that. That's good.

A big step in the battle to let women now drive in Saudi Arabia.

HOLMES: Yeah. That's right. A Saudi prince says he's all for it, but his reasons, well, they don't really have much to do with equality or freedom. We'll explain all that when we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back. In Saudi Arabia, the king's billionaire nephew is throwing his support behind allowing women to drive. We're talking about Alwaleed bin Talal. He tweeted about it. Saudi Arabian women have been fighting for the right to drive for a long time, protesting in the streets on occasion.

MALVEAUX: So Mohammed Jamjoom is joining us from Beirut. And, Mohammed, where did this change come about? Is this something that's been brewing for a while? And why did he weigh-in, this Saudi billionaire?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question. First let's talk about the actual tweet. This was Sunday when Prince Alwaleed bin Talal tweeted this. He said, "The question of women driving will result in being able to dispense with at least 500,000 foreign drivers, in addition to the social and economic benefits."

So let's try to break that down. In Saudi Arabia, a very conservative place, OK, when you have somebody as powerful and popular and rich as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal publicly coming out and saying that women should be allowed to drive, that is a big deal.

But the timing of this is key. Why? Because in the last several weeks, you've had a campaign in Saudi Arabia to try to drive out illegal workforce, people that are staying there in Saudi Arabia illegally. Thousands of people have been deported. There's concern in Saudi Arabia that too much money is being sent out of the country.

So the fact that Prince Alwaleed puts this clause in there that, if women are granted the right to drive, that then that would mean that they could save 500,000 jobs, a lot of the women's rights activists I've seen reaction from today on social media, they've been saying, well, this really isn't so much about equality. It's more about economy, and it really dilutes the message.


HOLMES: Yeah, Mohammed, dive in here. I'm curious. There is no actual law, as I understand it, banning women from driving. So how does it work and how have women been fighting back? JAMJOOM: Yeah, it's a good question. There's a lot of misunderstanding about this. In Saudi Arabia, you don't actually have a law on the books that bans women from driving. It's more societal. It's more based on religious edicts and customs.

We must remember that in 2005, which was when Prince Abdullah became King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, he quickly gave an interview in which he said that he could envision that within five years women might be given the right to drive, that it was up to society.

Women there have been pushing for the right to drive. In fact, in 2011 one woman who realized that there was no statute on the books banning women from driving (Inaudible), she actually posted videos of herself driving.

She was detained for nine days because of that. That galvanized support for the issue. There was a huge campaign in Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of women went around different Saudi cities driving, posting their pictures and videos on YouTube and Twitter and Facebook and other social networking sites.

So there's a real movement to get women the right to drive, but it hasn't happened yet which has led to so much frustration in the Kingdom from women's rights activists. They're saying they want to have this right now. They want to be able to drive.

And we must remember one last thing. In Saudi Arabia, women, they cannot open bank accounts. They cannot get educated. They can't go even traveling out of the country without the permission of their male guardian.

Suzanne, Michael?

MALVEAUX: And, Mohammed, we covered that quite a bit, that whole protest and the arrest that followed that and the YouTube videos of all those women driving. Very quickly here, you said that women's groups were responding well to this, but what about the men in Saudi Arabia? Does this look like something that would move this forward or not so much?

JAMJOOM: It's a very controversial issue. There has been support for this message by men in Saudi Arabia. I've seen that reaction online today. But there are a lot of men in Saudi Arabia, ultraconservative men in Saudi Arabia, who say they're against this at any price. They say it's not worth it for the economy. It's not worth it for societal change. They believe that women should not to be granted the right to drive and it seems nothing will sway their opinion.


MALVEAUX: All right, Mohammed Jamjoom. Thank you so much. It's just one of those things you'll always talk about, women and driving in Saudi Arabia, whether or not that will ever change.

HOLMES: Yeah, exactly.

Well if you need a heroin fix, but can't find a clean needle, a Canadian program has an easy solution.

MALVEAUX: So they actually bring the needle to you.

This is the story of the mobile needle exchange program. That is up next.