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Arizona Mom Freed; Police & Protesters Face Off; American Woman Killed in Syria; Photos Relating to Pistorius Case Leaked

Aired May 31, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company this Friday.

An Arizona mother on her way home after more than a week in a Mexican jail. What a story this has been. Yanira Maldonado, she walked out of this jail in Nogales, Mexico, overnight a free woman.

MALVEAUX: Oh, to the relief of her family. Authorities, they arrested her last week. This was on charges of smuggling marijuana. Well, her family insisted from the very beginning that she was innocent. Rafael Romo, he is in Nogales, Arizona, just across the Mexican border.

So, Rafael, first of all, tell us, she is free, but the legal process is not completely over. What happens for her next?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: That's true, Suzanne. I had a conversation this morning with her defense attorney. And what he was telling me is that even though the judge ruled in her favor and set her free, the prosecution still has, under Mexican law, the possibility of appealing the judge's ruling. And the defense attorney, Francisco Benitez, told me that he expects the prosecution to do so.

Now, it is going to be very difficult for a higher court to take a case where the prosecution's evidence was really not that strong, as far as we could see during the proceedings this week. So it remains to be seen.

Now, it was an incredible moment last night just before midnight when we witnessed this woman, who had been behind bars for nine days, to see her hug her husband, whom believed for a moment that his wife might spend years and years in prison for a crime that she did not commit.

One of the first questions that we wanted to ask her was, after everything that she's been through, would she ever go back to Mexico? And this is what she had to say.


YANIRA MALDONADO, RELEASED FROM MEXICAN JAIL: I love Mexico. My family's still there. So Mexico -- it's not Mexico's fault. So -- it's a few people who, you know, do this to me and probably to other people, who knows, you know? So I probably will go back. So -- Mexico is a beautiful country.


ROMO: And, Michael and Suzanne, Yanira has been through a lot in the last two weeks. Just think about it. First, her aunt in Mexico dies. This is a woman that she loved very much and helped raise her. On their way back from the funeral, that's when she gets stopped at the military checkpoint and accused of smuggling drugs. Last Saturday it was their first wedding anniversary. They had plans to celebrate that. And instead of doing that, she spent the day behind bars. But the good news is that she's back home, she's on the American side and very glad to be back with her family.

Back to you.

MALVEAUX: All right, Rafael Romo, thank you so much.

And you were mentioning the video that was critical to getting her out of there.

HOLMES: That was key to it, yes. They got the surveillance. She was accused of having, what, six kilos, 12 pounds of marijuana in the seat -- under her bus seat. And the video shows her and her husband getting on with like a handbag and a couple of handkerchiefs. And they were like, she wasn't carrying that much marijuana. That's (INAUDIBLE).

MALVEAUX: I heard two bottles of wine and a blanket.

HOLMES: Yes, something like that. Yes, a blanket, that's what it was, yes.

MALVEAUX: And that pretty much looks like she was on vacation, not smuggling marijuana.

HOLMES: Exactly. Goodness me.

MALVEAUX: Coming up later this hour, how you can protect yourself when traveling abroad. That's in about 20 minutes. I want you to stick around for that as well.

HOLMES: Yes, it's going to be a fascinating chat.

Now, authorities, meanwhile, questioning someone in Texas about those threatening letters we've been reporting on that was sent to President Obama and the mayor of New York.

MALVEAUX: Early tests are showing that the letter sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained a small amount of poison ricin. Final results are expected today. And tests for ricin are also being carried out on the letter that was sent to the president. An official says that letter looks similar to the ones sent to Bloomberg.

HOLMES: Yes, all of the letters were postmarked from Shreveport, Louisiana. The letters to Bloomberg threatened to kill anyone who tries to take away their guns.

MALVEAUX: And the heart of Turkey's biggest city looked more like a war zone today. It was police versus protesters. This is on the streets of Istanbul.

HOLMES: Yes, the fight was intense. Have a listen.

MALVEAUX: What you're hearing are police firing teargas and water cannons at the protesters. They've been staging a sit-in. This is at a park just the last couple of days, four days or so. Many of those protesters fighting back.

HOLMES: Yes, this is a place that Ivan Watson tells us it's like Times Square for Istanbul. They want to turn this park into a shopping mall. Ivan Watson reports on it.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can see here how the Turkish riot police are going after gatherings of people here in Istanbul's Taksim Square in the heart of the city.

Come on over here. Ordinary civilians being caught up in what's taking place here. An old lady knocked on the ground by the water cannon.

Downtown Istanbul, the commercial capital of Turkey, the largest city in this country, has really turned into a place of unrest. An explosion of anger that started with demonstrators who tried to hold a sit-in four days ago. They didn't want the park over there to be demolished and turned into a shopping mall. Now, this place has turned into a riot zone and it's catching an awful lot of ordinary citizens and tourists in the midst of all of this teargas and water cannons and violence.


HOLMES: And Ivan now joins us live from Istanbul.

I mean, Ivan, I started my day seeing a tweet from you saying that you were gassed on the way to work. It looks like it hasn't improved. You know, this is not about the park anymore, is it? This is about a government that is showing an increasing intolerance to any kind of dissent.

WATSON: You're right. We just got gassed here, so I may have to put this back on. It's been all day here in our office like this. I think part of the frustration that you're hearing from many urban young Turks who live in Istanbul, the largest city here, is anger. And you can hear them banging on metal around us. Anger that the government just won't let them express themselves, protest and that it is using teargas on a weekly, if not daily basis, to break up demonstrations.

This is, as you mentioned, as I've mentioned before, the Times Square of Istanbul. And any time you get more than a hundred people gathering here, the riot police hit them with water cannons and with teargas. And this has become so frequent and prevalent in Turkey, Michael, that people now joke that if you can't get your kids to eat their vegetables at night at dinner, the cops will show up and offer to hit them with teargas or pepper spray. That has really triggered a lot of anger. So demonstrators here saying this isn't about a park getting turned into a shopping mall anymore, this is about our government refusing to let us express ourselves.


MALVEAUX: And, Ivan, real quickly here, what has it been like for you? I mean we see in some ways struggling. I know when you have -- you're exposed to tear gas, that can be pretty difficult.

WATSON: Well, I mean, just imagine, we're in an area of banks and airline ticketing agencies and wig shops of all things, and people are afraid. They're hiding in their homes. They're getting gassed while going through the biggest transit hub in Turkey's largest city just trying to get to work or get to their classes or go, you know, go about their daily business. And the tear gas has even gotten into the subway system. That's an enclosed area where people describe to us being overwhelmed by the fumes, by the chemicals in tunnels underneath the ground.

And this is not the first time that I've seen scenes like this in Istanbul. May Day, International Labor Protest Day, there was a war zone here as well when the government refused to allow people from the labor movement to gather in this very square. A lot of young people we're talking to are saying they're just going to pick up the intensity of these clashes with the police this evening.

MALVEAUX: All right, Ivan, please be safe. Ivan Watson out of Istanbul. And really amazing when you think about that, just trying to get through the streets, get to your home, get to work and having to deal with that kind of gas.

HOLMES: Yes. And it's probably going to get worse. As Ivan was saying, this is not about that park anymore. This is about something far bigger and broader. Yes.

All right, coming up on AROUND THE WORLD, Toronto's mayor is accused of smoking crack cocaine.

MALVEAUX: And there's reportedly video to prove it. So, where is it? How this scandal could take a sinister turn.

Then, in the U.S., Jodi Arias' sex life all over TV. So are texts and photos from Trayvon Martin's cell phone.

HOLMES: Yes, but in other countries, the media can't show you things considered evidence once someone is charged with a crime. We're going to take a look at this, the justice system, on AROUND THE WORLD.


MALVEAUX: An American woman is dead in Syria's civil war and there are questions now about whether or not she was actually fighting alongside the rebels there. HOLMES: We're told that we're going to show it to you. That is the woman's passport. It was shown on state Syrian television. You can see that's her driver's license. It identifies her as Nicole Lynn Mansfield, 33-years-old, from Flint, Michigan.

MALVEAUX: Her family members talked to CNN and said the FBI came to their home and told them about the reported death in Syria. I want to bring in Nick Paton Walsh. He is in Beirut right now.

And, Nick, what more do we know about this American woman and what was she doing in Syria?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know what she was doing there. We do know what Syrian state TV say she was doing there. They released pictures, some of them gruesome, of her corpse and that, they say, of a British man who they found alongside her, when they ambushed the Volkswagen they were traveling in, in the city of Idlib.

Now, they produced the driving license and U.S. passport of Miss Mansfield and then they also produced this British passport as well. Of course, it's unclear precisely who these people picture necessarily are, what they were doing there. But what is clear is state TV say they're part of the foreign-fueled insurgency, that they've been fighting. The government there very much trying to play down the idea they're facing domestic discontent in this past two years of conflict, Suzanne.

HOLMES: Hey, Nick, changing gears slightly. Of course we talked yesterday about Bashar al Assad was going on television, Al-Manar, the Hezbollah television network, and talking about all kinds of issues. What was your take from that? What is he saying that -- of particular note?

WALSH: Well, I think the overall tone was fascinating because this was clearly an address to the constituency of Hezbollah, the large political and militant group that's fighting here in Lebanon, declared last weekend they would fight alongside Assad all the way. A controversial decision given they were really founded to fight Israel. But he phrased the whole conflict there in now in that Syrian city of Qseir and generally it's not about Syria's civil war, but it's about bolstering what they refer to as the resistance against Israel in this part of the world. A logic that many will find hard to follow in the Arab world, but here's what he had to say.


PRES. BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIA (through translator): What's happening at Qseir is closely tied with Israel cutting out the oxygen from the resistance forces. It has nothing to do with defending the state of Syria. The timing for the battle is Qseir is tied to Israel's strike. We (ph) want to suffocate the resistance.


WALSH: But trying to phrase it like that is basically trying to justify Hezbollah's role alongside him, distance that from the sectarian strife that's clearly at the heart of the war now, but really the central thrust of Assad's message was trying to exude confidence, trying to suggest that Hezbollah being on his side had bought him a bit of breathing space, a bit of time.

He was saying he was going to get some decent Russia missiles fairly soon, talking about perhaps staying on until 2014 and sounding like he'd attend peace talks, but not accept opposition pre-conditions, trying to look relaxed, jovial almost at times, when, for the past few months, everyone's very much thought, everyone in Damascus, and the regime has been really with their backs against the wall, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Nick, thank you very much.

Certainly seems like there's no breakthrough there, and a lot of questions still about this American woman because they say she had weapons at her side when she died. We don't really know if she was fighting with the rebels on their side.

HOLMES: No, and Idlib, of course, has been an area that's gone back and forth between the rebels and regime.

And, yeah, ammunition found in the vehicle, her I.D. There was a British guy there, another Westerner who they're not identifying a country of origin, certainly a very suspicious situation.

But nobody knows for sure what she was doing there, apparently a recent convert to Islam reportedly. A lot more to come out of that.

MALVEAUX: All right, and could the murder case, we're talking about against the Blade Runner, be in jeopardy?

The investigation is now in question after photos of Oscar Pistorius' home are leaked and posted online.

HOLMES: Yeah, his family speaks exclusively to our Robyn Curnow.

You're watching AROUND THE WORLD. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Now, in the United States, of course, you are innocent until proven guilty. That's a basic tenant of justice.

MALVEAUX: But the details of Jodi Arias' tawdry sex life and murderous rampage were aired on television long before her trial began.

And check this out. The George Zimmerman trial hasn't even started, yet we've heard every incriminating detail on both sides of the case in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

HOLMES: Yeah, it can make it pretty tough to pick an impartial jury when you think about it if they've already heard all the evidence. It's all been out there, anyway.

In much the rest of the world, though, the rules are very different. Let's talk about the United Kingdom for example.

People are no longer allowed to see that video there, one of the suspects accused of hacking to death that British soldier. The video, of course, shows the man's hands covered in blood and he's holding a weapon.

MALVEAUX: So I want to bring in our legal analyst, Paul Callan, to join us here and talk about -- a little bit about how these rules are different for different countries.

You've got the U.K. and some other Western nations trying to protect the jury from prejudice. I guess it's the law of sub-prejudice. Explain that for us.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think our international viewers would be very, very surprised to see what an enormous difference there is between the way these things are handled in the United States and other places.

In the U.S., because of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which has to do with free speech, we're very open about trials. And presumptively all trials are open to scrutiny by the press; they can be reported. And the press, frankly, is almost never punished for writing something about an ongoing trial.

Contrast that with other free countries, mostly the United Kingdom countries, for instance. In those countries, the thought is that publication of these facts will prejudice a person's right to a fair trial.

And so you can get a publication ban in advance of trial. And any publication then that reveals information will be held in contempt of court.

Now, that would never happen in the United States. We don't go after newspapers in the United States. You might go after the person who leaked the information. That person could be held in contempt.

But, frankly, a newspaper has not been held in contempt -- you'd probably have to go back as far as the Vietnam war to find an example.

HOLMES: But, Paul, I guess that's the thing, and I'm speaking as an Australian and as a reporter I had to subject to the laws of sub judice.

It's not even about covering the trial. It's about before it even gets to trial. There's been these discussions on whether these potentially incriminating texts would be used in the trial -- the Zimmerman trial.

Well, those texts have now been run. They're out there. So the chances of prejudicing a jury when they might see evidence that might not even come up in trial or may not be admissible in trial, is it a good way to go?

Is that free speech, or is that potentially hurting a defendant? CALLAN: It's a tough question, Michael. And, you know, in the United States the decision has ultimately been that you want to have an open system so people don't think that the rich and powerful are getting special privileges, that things are taking place behind closed doors that the public doesn't know about.

And I think there is an open system in the United States. And that end is served, but you certainly raised a legitimate point. Lawyers in the U.S. worry about this when they represent clients.

And in this case, this Trayvon Martin case and George Zimmerman case, the jury's going to know what was said in those text messages even if it may affect the fairness of the trial.

So this is a very legitimate argument, fair trial versus free press. And U.S. society deals with it in a way that's very different than United Kingdom countries.

MALVEAUX: And, Paul, is there any evidence however, that in the United Kingdom or Australia that there is a fairer system, that there is justice that's served, where in this country there is not? Is there anything to back that up, really?

CALLAN: Well, Suzanne, I think in the end, statistically, there are so few high-profile cases, the vast majority of cases are tried in courtrooms where a reporter wouldn't know the location of the courtroom.

So statistically it happens in a very small number of cases, and having been involved in some high-profile cases myself like the O.J. Simpson case, you can always find jurors who don't know about the case.

And, frankly, it's a longer jury selection process, but in the end, you do get jurors who say I might have heard something, but I'm going to base my decision on the evidence, not vague rumors or things I read about in the newspaper.

So I don't think in the end it affects the fairness in any kind of radical way in the United States.

HOLMES: All right. Paul, thanks so much. Paul Callan.

I guess, you know, in countries like Australia, the basic rule is, if someone is charged or you have a reasonable belief they are about to be charged, you can no longer say anything about the case, the history of the defendant or whatever. Only report what is said in court.

MALVEAUX: And how do they control that, though? I mean, seems like that would be something very, very difficult to control.

HOLMES: If you did it, you would be hauled up in court on contempt of court and be quite likely arrested.

Because (inaudible) you pull up somebody's prior past, their girlfriends or whatever and that gets into a jury's mind, that's seen as being prejudicial.

MALVEAUX: It's very murky, though, because you know they don't allow the video of the guy with the meat cleaver overseas, but it's not to say they can't see it on some sort of American television station that is pumped into their country.

HOLMES: True, true. The Internet's changed all that. Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah.

MALVEAUX: The job market in the United States might be struggling, but unemployment in the European Union actually hitting a record high, Spain, one of those countries that is facing the highest unemployment, however, along with Greece.

HOLMES: Yeah, the rate in both of those countries is about 27 percent. Among the youth it's over 50 percent.

The average in the 17 countries that use the euro as a currency, 12.2 percent.

MALVEAUX: More than 19 million people in the eurozone were unemployed last month.


MALVEAUX: This is a woman who's going to be the mayor of Paris for the very first time. We're talking about 2,000 years of history, not a single female mayor there.

HOLMES: What's up, Paris? The question, of course, is who? It will be a woman because the two candidates, the leading candidates, are women.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, now she's on the left of your screen. She's a conservative whose grandfather was once, actually, the ambassador to the United States.

MALVEAUX: And here's her opponent. She's a socialist. This is Anne Hidalgo, who is the current deputy mayor of Paris.

Her boss is retiring and one of these women, of course, will be elected to take his place, making history.

HOLMES: Two thousand years.

MALVEAUX: Congratulations.

HOLMES: Come on, girls. Step it up.

All right, well, could the murder case against the Blade Runner be in jeopardy? The investigation in question after photos of Oscar Pistorius' home are leaked and posted online.

MALVEAUX: His family is speaking exclusively to CNN. That's up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: We got some developments today in the case of Oscar Pistorius. He is the South African Olympic star accused of murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, you might recall.

HOLMES: Yeah, today, some photographs of the blood-covered bathroom where Reeva Steenkamp was shot appeared on South African television and some websites.

Now the pictures reportedly were leaked. No word on who leaked them or even if they are official police evidence pictures.

MALVEAUX: Pistorius is out on bail. He is awaiting trial.

Our Robyn Curnow, she has met him. She has talked to him. He's not giving recorded interviews, but she did speak to his family and others who are standing by him.