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NEWS STREAM

Edward Snowden Leaves Moscow Airport, Granted Temporary Asylum; Ariel Castro To Speak At Sentencing Hearing; Zimbabwe Opposition Leader: No Way Election Were Free Or Fair; Egyptian Military Offers Warning To Pro- Morsy Demonstrators; Is Twitter Doing Enough To Stop Abuse?; Day Four Of Thai Oil Spill Cleanup

Aired August 1, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET

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


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And breaking news that we're getting right now into the case of Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker. We have learned that he has left the Moscow airport.

Now his lawyer has told CNN that Snowden now has the papers to leave the airport. Let's go to our sister network CNN USA for more.

(SIMULCAST WITH CNN USA)

LU STOUT: And that was CNN USA there. Big development in this story in the case of Edward Snowden. Again, a lawyer representing Edward Snowden, again he's the man who leaked details of several U.S. surveillance programs, the lawyer says that he has indeed left that transit area. He has left Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. The former NSA contractor, he's been there for weeks since late June.

And let's cross over to our Moscow correspondent Phil Black. And I understand that you've been talking to Snowden's lawyer. What more did he tell you?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not a lot more, Kristie, unfortunately, except as you say that he's left the airport and that he has received a positive response to that application for temporary asylum in Russia. That's really significant, because it is not just temporary permission or a short-term status that allows him to leave the airport and enter Russia while his application is being considered, that's what he was expected to receive at some point in the coming days. What he has actually received is a final, positive response to his application for temporary asylum, which gives him the right to stay in this country for up to one year. And we are told with all the same rights, freedoms as any other Russian citizen. He can move around. He can travel. He is able to receive all the same other rights and freedoms that Russians themselves do as well.

But we do not know where he is going, because clearly he is not like any other Russian citizen, this is certainly a wanted man who very much is under some degree of pressure and that would perhaps still explain why his lawyer is telling us today that for security reasons Snowden's location will not be divulged at this time. It's a safe location. They're not saying where he is. We don't know if or when he is going to be appearing publicly. If you were to make a guess, you'd probably say he's not going to maintain a very high public profile, because that is the one condition the Russian government has set on Snowden if he wants to stay here.

If he wants to receive temporary asylum, and that is that he is not allowed to continue campaigning, agitating, criticizing the United States for its electronic surveillance programs in the way that he has done.

So what we know is that, yes, he has left the airport for the first time in over five weeks. This is the first - this is the first time he has left that transit area, that terminal building at Sheremetyeva Airport we are told. And he's now somewhere in an undisclosed location, Kristie.

LU STOUT: He has left the transit area in the airport. He's been granted temporary asylum. And now comes the question when we try to get into the mindset, inside the Kremlin, why did Russia grant him temporary asylum when it risks the relationship between U.S. and Russia?

BLACK: Russia was very much boxed in on this one. It says that that's partly the United States' fault, because it says that the United States trapped him here by revoking his passport and making it impossible for him to move on to another country. Russia says it never wanted this problem, did not want him to be here. But at the same time, said we cannot send him back. We cannot extradite him, because we don't have an extradition treaty.

And there has also been a great deal of sympathy spoken about Edward Snowden from very high ranking members of the Russian government. He is not referred to in the same terms that the U.S. government refer to him as. He's often referred to as a human rights activist here.

And there perhaps lies the political value for the Russian government in Edward Snowden, because Russia is often on the receiving end of criticism, particularly on human rights issues from the west, from the United States.

Someone like Edward Snowden, perhaps, gives Russia the opportunity to criticize the west, to point out that other people are saying that the United States does not have an unblemished record when it comes to human rights.

That said, even with that benefit, Russia has been very concerned about impacting the relationship with the United States because of Edward Snowden. And President Putin has said all along that this issue should be considered great enough to damage that relationship. That relationship should ultimately be more important.

Whether the United States would agree with this, that remains to be seen. And we're going to start to get an indication of this pretty soon. No doubt the U.S. government will respond to this latest news today. This is the one development that the U.S. was trying to stop, to prevent, to prevent him leaving that airport, and more than that, to prevent him getting that sort of official temporary asylum protection here.

We're also going to see a foillow on from that in the coming weeks and months, because U.S. President Barack Obama, who is due to come to the United - come to Russia, I should say, for the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg in early September, there was even talk of him coming to Moscow just before that for a bilateral meeting with President Putin.

Whether that meeting goes ahead, just what the tone is at the G20 meeting, as I say we're going to get a very strong indication of just how strongly the U.S. feels about this issue, and how Russia has handled it, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, we have to wait and see on the diplomatic fallout from this.

Phil Black reporting on this very big development. Thank you.

And while Edward Snowden leaves the airport finally, we're still learning more from the information that he allegedly obtained at the NSA, including a new secret surveillance program that's called XKeyscore. And according to the Guardian, the program, it reportedly allows analysts access to, quote, nearly everything a typical user does on the internet.

Joe Johns has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest revelation from confessed intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is almost staggering, how the government, using program known as Xkeyscore can access emails, web browsing, private chats, you name it, along with what we already knew, the metadata that tell them about telephone calls and other electronic communications.

The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald wrote the story.

GLENN GREENWALD, GUARDIAN: It's an all-purpose spying device that really has no real limit.

JOHNS: The Guardian published slides from what appear to be an NSA presentation showing how XKeyscore works. The slide suggests the government can access its massive database of information about an individual's online activities by simpling entering email addresses or other information into a computer generated form. It suggests the government can even access the internet browsing activities of individuals on Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, MySpace, even CNN.com.

Snowden has talked before about how the program could be misused.

SNOWDEN: But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email.

JOHNS: The National Security Agency issued a statement saying allegations of widespread unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true, that it focuses on foreign intelligence targets. Our tools have stringent oversight and compliance mechanisms built in at several levels.

At a conference of computer hackers, the head of the NSA, speaking at times over hecklers, talked about the importance of the programs.

KEITH ALEXANDER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: How do we come up with a program to stop terrorism and to protect our civil liberties and privacy. This is perhaps one of the biggest issues facing our country today.

JOHNS: At a hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein said fewer than two dozen people actually can access the sensitive information. And they are subject to strict controls.

REP. DIANE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: The query, which is the search of the database, can only be done on reasonable, articulable suspicion. And only 22 people have access to that, trained and vetted analysts at the NSA.

JOHNS: But whether the government has enough safeguards is an open question that starts with the unauthorized access that Edward Snowden got, a sore point on The Hill.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: Who double checked Mr. Snowden?

JOHN INGLIS, DEPUTY DIR. NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Well, there are checks at multiple levels. There are checks in terms of what an individual might be doing at any moment in time.

LEAHY: They obviously failed.

INGLES: In this case, I think we can say that they failed, but we don't yet know where.

LEAHY: You think you can say they failed. I mean, he's sitting over at the airport in Russia with millions of items.

INGLES: I would say that with the benefit of what we now know, they did fail.

JOHNS: The NSA also declassified new information that says they've discovered technical compliance issues and human errors in the implementation of two of the snooping programs, but that they haven't found any acts of bad faith. There's also an intelligence court document that suggests the government is actually using a baseline legal standard common in the law known as reasonable suspicion before allowing snooping.

Privacy advocates say that's good, but it's not enough.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And again, breaking news this hour, the NSA leaker Edwrad Snowden, he has left the Moscow airport. He's been granted temporary asylum in Russia. This, according to his lawyer to CNN.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now first, rape threats. And now, bomb threats. Now police in London are investigating the source, or sources of a message sent to several female journalists on Twitter. Now columnist for Britain's Guardian and Independent newspapers and the Europe editor of Time say that they have received the threats.

Now the Independent's Grace Dent, she took this screen grab of the message, which claimed a bomb would go off outside of her home.

Now this, it seems to be an extreme example of what's known as Internet trolling. Now trolls are people who make offensive or controversial comments online and apparently get satisfaction from inciting outrage or argument.

Now dozens of celebrities and sports stars have been targeted, but they are not the only victims. In fact, a recent study suggested that two- thirds of British teenagers have experienced online abuse.

Now the anonymity of the Internet can make the problem worse. In the case of Wednesday's bomb threats, the troll used a Twitter handle that was a number, not a name.

Now creating a phony online identity like that is simple as you can see from this screen grab of Twitter's account sign-up page.

You can enter a fake name and only a legitimate email address is required.

Now the bomb threats, sent to the three journalists, all came from the same Twitter account, which has now been suspended.

Now an online petition is calling on Twitter to improve the system for reporting such threats. 110,000 people have signed it. Now Twitter says it takes online abuse very seriously. And Atika Shubert joins us from London with more on the threats made on the microblog.

And Atika, we know that the police there are taking this very seriously. In fact, they have launched an investigation into the bomb threats. What's the latest on that?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they've launched an investigation. Hadley Freeman who is the Guardian commentator is the one who reported it to police. And she made a good point, which is they - the people that are receiving these threats may not feel particularly threatened by them, but you know it's illegal to call an airport and call in a bomb threat, so why should it be OK for somebody to issue a very specific bomb threat on Twitter. And that's why she notified the police. And police are looking into it now.

And remember, they have taken action in the past. In fact, in the recent rape threats over Twitter, they did arrest two people for issuing those rape threats online.

So it is - there is the possibility of more action coming from the police.

But what a lot of activists want is they also want to see Twitter taking on more action and responsibility specifically by putting a report abuse button on all platforms on every tweet so that it makes it easier to flag up this kind of abuse and take it offline.

LU STOUT: And Twitter seems to be reacting to the public outcry. What is the microblog saying?

SHUBERT: Twitter has reacted saying they are looking into putting that abuse button on, seeing what they can do and that they do take this quite seriously. But for a lot of the activists here, especially you mentioned that Change.org online petition it's not quite enough. They want Twitter to actually hire more staff to make sure things are screened and moderated.

The problem, of course, is with that anonymity, as you point out, it can be hard. Once somebody puts up an anonymous account, they can shut it down but then they'll just pop up again with another account. It is very hard to stamp this kind of thing out.

LU STOUT: And in the background to all this, there's this free speech debate in the UK. We know that the Prime Minister David Cameron, he's been pushing an Internet filtering policy. Atika, is there a wider debate there about the balance to be struck here, to clean up the online world from threats, but without censorship and without banning content?

SHUBERT: There is a wider debate. And this probably plays into some of that backlash that a lot of these women writers and activists have been seeing online. But this really, I think, the extreme examples of the kinds of abuse online - I mean, it's not just bomb threats, we're talking about extremely graphic, violent threats of rape online.

And, you know, just to give you a sense of the scale, for Caroline Criado-Perez, who is the woman that first received a lot of these threats here, we're talking about 50 rape threats an hour over the course of two days. So it really is just a torrent of abuse.

And so there seems to be a lot of the public now saying there must be a way to police this. And if you make a criminal threat online, then there should be a way for police to take action if needed.

LU STOUT: Wow 50 rape threats an hour on Twitter. It's absolutely sickening. Atika Shubert reporting for us, thank you.

And we'll have more on Internet Trolling later in the program. I'll be asking our regular contributor Nicholas Thompson just how accountable social networks should be for online abuse.

Now, you're watching News Stream. And still to come, are things about to escalate in Egypt? We'll take you live to Cairo for the latest in the standoff with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy.

And ballots are currently being counted in Zimbabwe, but not without controversy. Why the opposition leader is calling the election null and void.

And in the U.S., he sexually abused and imprisoned three women in his home for a decade. And now he wants to tell his side of the story. What will Ariel Castro say at his sentencing hearing?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

Now there is growing concern in Egypt about the threat of a deadly showdown. State run news reports that the interior ministry has called on protesters supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsy to leave two Cairo squares. Now that comes a day after the military backed government authorized a security crackdown on the protests.

Now thousands of Morsy supporters remain camped out at Raba el-Adawiya (ph) and Nada Masra (ph) squares in the capital.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry says that gradual steps will be taken to disperse them.

But human rights group Amnesty International calls the plan, and we're quoting here, "a recipe for bloodshed."

Now the order comes just days after clashes in Cairo and Alexandria left more than 150 people dead.

Now Arwa Damon has been following the developments in Cairo. Let's get the very latest with her. And Arwa, could you tell us what's happening right now at the two protest sites in Cairo?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've been in touch with individuals there. And they're not seeing any sort of unusual activity just yet. This statement that you're referring to is the latest to have come out in what seems to be the government implementing this plan of initially warning people to leave and then taking harsher measures against them.

The statement is calling on the demonstrators to clear the squares, to put the country's best interest above all, saying that it will guarantee everyone a safe exit.

Now earlier, the government had stated that it would initially warn people that they had to leave.

Also important to add, though, that this particular statement does not have any sort of time frame, any sort of deadline where it's telling people to leave by a specific time, but that it would first warn people to leave, then to use tear gas and then use all means necessary to clear the demonstrators.

The justification for all of this, the military backed interim government is saying that these sit-ins are intimidating residents in the area, that they believe that there may be armed elements within them, that there are acts of terror happening around the demonstration sites and that the road blockage that they're causing on these main areas of the capital all put together are creating what is deemed to be a threat to national security.

The demonstrators, for their part, are absolutely determined to continue with their sit-ins. And so it's very difficult to see how this is not going to have a bloody resolution.

The question is, how much blood with be shed and what can actually be done to prevent that, or at least mitigate those worst case scenario consequences, Kristie.

LU STOUT: You just gave us the government's rationale, their justification for this warning, but really, why does the interim government want to end these sit-ins? And I've heard that they have been peaceful so far. I mean, does it want to stop potential unrest? Is this, as they say, a security issue, or is it about completely dismantling and crushing the Muslim Brotherhood?

DAMON: It's sort of all of what you just mentioned there. This is a very complex situation that the country is facing right now. It does need to, yes, restore a certain level of order to the streets, although it is fair to also say that in the rest of the capital outside of the sit-in areas like this pretty much continue as normal, but this interim government really needs to establish itself as being in control. And it also needs to clear these individuals, because of the attention that they're getting, because they are a rallying point for the pro-Morsy demonstrators - and by the government's justification too - they do believe that there is perhaps an armed element that is within them. There have been various clashes that have been taking place.

The demonstrators saying that they are peaceful. The government blaming the demonstrators for firing first. They are denying those allegations, of course.

But it's all part of this incredibly tenuous situation that the country is in right now. In an ideal scenario for this military backed interim government, the sit-in would disperse. They would be able to move forward with this roadmap that they want to lay ahead, drafting a new constitution, holding new elections in the months, the time ahead.

But when it comes to the demonstrators' perspective, they still feel that it is fully within their right to continue this sit-in. And they do feel as if from their perspective this was a coup against a democratically elected president. And so at this point, they're determined not to give any ground until they say their main demand is met, and that is that deposed President Morsy is brought back to power, which is of course a nonstarter.

But, really, for this interim government, clearing these squares and reestablishing at least a semblance of rule and order to the streets would be a very critical first step when it comes to moving the country forward, one of course that lends itself with a fair number of other complications.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it's a critical step as you call it. It is a tenuous situation. Tenuous is the word.

Arwa Damon reporting live for us from Cairo. Thank you, Arwa.

Now there is much more still to come right here on News Stream. Ariel Castro, he is set to spend the rest of his life in prison as part of a plea deal, but it seems like he wants to get things off his chest, first. And what will he say at his sentencing hearing? Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

A lawyer representing Edward Snowden says the former NSA contractor has left Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. And Snowden, who leaked details of several U.S. surveillance programs, had been there for weeks. Now his lawyer says his application for political asylum has been approved. And he now has legal status in Russia for one year. Now there's no word on where Snowden is now.

Now the United States' top diplomat is on a visit to Pakistan. It is John Kerry's first trip to the country as Secretary of State. He met with Pakistani officials and is invited newly elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif to hold talks with President Obama.

Now the Spanish prime minister says he made a mistake and trusted the wrong people in his own party, but he will not step down. Mariano Rajoy has been answering questions in the Spanish parliament over alleged irregular payments to party leaders, including himself.

Now one day after Egypt's government ordered police to break up sit- ins by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy, the interior ministry has promised the demonstrators a safe exit. Now officials are calling the protests a threat to national security.

Now, Ariel Castro kidnapped and then imprisoned three women in his cleveland home for a decade. And now he wants to share his side of the story.

Now he is expected to speak at length during his sentencing, which gets underway in less than half an hour from now. And for more on this story, let's check in with Pamela Brown live in Cleveland, Ohio. And Pamela, what exactly will we hear from Ariel Castro?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we could be hearing an apology for the first time, that's according to his lawyer who I spoke with yesterday morning. However, he was still working on his statement yesterday, so we're not exactly certain what he will say. But you can bet that he's going to be explaining a lot, that's according to someone I spoke with that's close to Ariel Castro.

And we're not only going to be hearing from Castro, we could also be hearing from one of his victims. My sources tell me that Michelle Knight may be making an impact statement today. And she could be facing her captor in person.

Meantime, prosecutors have released a pre-sentencing document. And this details how Castro kept his victims in a sustained state of fear, how he terrorized them, and how the victims used diaries to maintain a sense of normalcy.

(BEGIN VIDOETAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prosecutors failed a sentencing memorandum Wednesday, detailing how Ariel Castro kidnapped Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, and the horrific physical, mental and sexual abuse they endured daily.

According to court documents, he let the three women keep a diary during captivity that describe the abuse and dreams of some day escaping and being reunited with family.

ARIEL CASTRO, PLED GUILTY TO 937 COUNTS: My addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has clearly taken a toll in my mind.

BROWN: Castro also admitted to having the girls chained by their ankles with only one meal a day, showering infrequently, while he had sexual assaulted them. He also said he had other victims and that some of them made it home but that others had not. And a plea deal that took the death penalty off the table Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 counts including kidnapping, rape and murder for terminating Michelle Knight's multiple pregnancies.

MICHELLE KNIGHT, HELD CAPTIVE FOR OVER 10 YEARS: I may have been through hell and back, but I am stronger enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face.

BROWN: Sources say Knight will likely make an impact statement in court. Face to face with her captor for the first time since their dramatic rescue nearly three months.

AMANDA BERRY, HELD CAPTIVE FOR OVER 19 YEARS: Hello, police. Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sometimes the sentencing process is a form of catharsis for the victim of the crime.

BROWN: Castro, too, will finally share his side. Prosecutor say he will apologize to his victims.

Michelle Knight, thanking the Cleveland Police Department with this handwritten note, saying, "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And in that note to police, she also said, "life is tough, but I am tougher."

Now today, prosecutors will be presenting their case to the judge. And a model of Castro's house has been rolled into the court room. Government authorities are going to be using this model to show exactly what went on inside each room in Castro's home and what these young women endured.

Authorities are saying, however, that this is going to be a tasteful sentencing. They're not going to present all the evidence, however they will be presenting some photos and some evidence taken out of Castro's home. So it could be a dramatic proceeding today.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: All right. Pamela Brown reporting live from Cleveland, Ohio. Thank you.

And to Zimbabwe now where there is major controversy one day after the southern African country held hotly contested elections. Now the presidential race, it pits the longtime leader Robert Mugabe against current prime minister and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. And Tsvangirai is now claiming widespread voter fraud makes the election in his words null and void.

Nkepile Mabuse is following this story from neighboring South Africa. She joins me now live from CNN Johannesburg. And could you tell us more about how the vote has been compromised?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. We are having a bit of technical problems here, but I think you've mentioned that Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader in Zimbabwe, has come out to say that this election is a farce. He called it null and void. We understand that president Robert Mugabe himself will not be making a statement any time soon. He will only speak once the official announcement has been made of the results by the Zimbabwe electoral commission.

But we've also been speaking to a close aid of Mr. Mugabe, and he says that Morgan Tsvangirai is saying this because he has lost.

Morg - Mugabe's party strongly believes that President Robert Mugabe has won this election by more than 50 percent, which is what it required. We've also been speaking to diplomatic sources on the ground who are of the view - they say that their analysis in the leadup to this election pointed to a neck and neck and neck race. The believed that this election will lead to a runoff. In fact, one diplomatic source said to me that if there's an outright winner, he will be very suspicious of the process.

LU STOUT: Now interesting allegations, a lot of concerns about this election in Zimbabwe. Nkepile Mabuse reporting. Thank you.

Now in the Democratic Republic of Congo, rebels near the city of Goma have just over an hour to meet a UN deadline to disarm or face the threat of force. Now the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo issued the ultimatum on Tuesday. The M-23 rebels, they broke away from the Congolese army last year, accusing the government of violating the terms of a peace accord.

And since then, the UN says that the group has attacked a number of government positions causing civilians casualties and mass displacement. And on to the latest coming out of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej plans to move out of the Bangkok hospital that's been his home for almost four years. And hundreds of well wishers lined the streets near the hospital today waiting to great the 85-year-old monarch who is widely revered in Thailand. And according to a government official, he will be moving to his palace by the sea.

Now the king's health has moved financial markets in Thailand in the past and he is, indeed, the world's longest reigning monarch.

Now you are watching News Stream. And still ahead, as police investigate this bomb threat on Twitter, we ask how accountable are social networks for levels of online abuse?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: All right. Let's return to one of our top stories now. And British police are investigating the source of bomb threats sent to several female journalists on Twitter. One of the targets was Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman. And on Tuesday, she wrote this article, "How To Use the Internet Without Being a Total Loser." And in it she repeats, quote, "there is no excuse for sending abuse to strangers."

Now good advice for Internet users there, but what about the social networks themselves? Let's bring in our regular contributor and editor of The NewYorker.com Nicholas Thompson. And Nick, should Twitter do more to cleanup its platform from sexual harassment and death threats?

NICHOLAS THOMPSON, NEWYORKER.COM: Well, yes and no. I mean, yes, this has become a real problem on Twitter. And Twitter for its own sake, in order to have sort of lively conversation that people enjoy, needs to create a better system of self policing. They need to create, make it easier for people to be able to report things that violate Twitter's terms of service as bomb threats and rape threats do. So they need to help allow people to self-police the community.

But at the same time, we have to be very careful. Twitter is a platform for conversation. And Twitter's general policy needs to be to let more speech happen. And it shouldn't get in the business of restricting speech, except in extreme and particular circumstances.

LU STOUT: Yeah, but after a lot of public outcry, Twitter has been forced to respond. And it did announce earlier this week that it will create a report abuse button. I mean, do you think that is the best way for Twitter to deal with this, to deal with online threats?

THOMPSON: I actually it might be the best way for Twitter to deal with online threats. So what a report abuse button does is it allows users to see something happening to report it to Twitter and then for Twitter to take action or to report something to law enforcement authorities. And we certainly know there's clear line between Silicon Valley technology companies and law enforcement. It allows Twitter to self-police without Twitter taking the extreme step of saying we're going to ban this kind of speech. We're going to ban this kind of speech, which always tends to get you in trouble.

Twitter is the most open of the technology platform companies. It's the ones with the - it's the company with the most open view towards free speech, the most American view of free speech as opposed to more restricted views of free speech around the world. Twitter, you know, comes out of the San Francisco counterculture, a lot of that can be seen in it. I think it needs to preserve that for its own good and for our good, the people who use it.

But, yes, a report abuse button will be very helpful, and I'm glad that Twitter is looking at these particular cases very carefully.

LU STOUT: Now another story that we've been covering this week on News Stream is bullying, cyber bullying on Facebook. In fact, a 14-year- old girl in Italy tragically she committed suicide. She took her own life after being bullied on Facebook. And we know that a prosecutor is now looking to filing a criminal complaint against Facebook.

But Nick, how accountable is the social network for her death?

THOMPSON: Well, I'm not sure that the social network is accountable for her death, but the social network probably does have a responsibility within the bounds of privacy to be very careful in monitoring things like bullying among under aged people.

The - you know, Twitter - I mean, Facebook had all this information about what was being said. Now who can it share it with? Can it share it with the parents? Can it share it with law enforcement? These are very complicated issues. They run into national privacy laws.

But Facebook does have some responsibility not necessarily to limit the kind of things that are said, but when it sees things happening like what happened in Italy to do whatever it can to prevent these horrible outcomes, which we have seen an unfortunate amount.

So it's a very complicated balancing act for Facebook.

But it should know by now that bullying is a terrible thing that has sort of become a cultural phenomenon on Facebook. And it should be doing everything it can to stop it and protect it within the bounds of free speech and privacy protection.

LU STOUT: Yeah, indeed I agree with you on that. And it's interesting how you say that Facebook may not be accountable, but it is surely responsible in part.

One last question for you. We have to talk about this other development this week on Instagram. We learned that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is apparently on the photosharing site using it. I mean, we know that al-Assad, he's been condemned internationally for waging this brutal, dragged out civil war. And yet he is there Instagraming propaganda.

So Nick, I mean, is there something wrong here?

THOMPSON: No. I think Assad should absolutely be on Instagram putting out his propaganda. And I think people should be countering it. And I think people who have seen the horrible things he's done should be using Instagram and putting out those photographs. And I think that every dictator should have the rights to use Instagram if they're just showing propaganda pictures. And we should all have the rights to say this is not really what's happening. And ideally the people with truth on their sides will all prevail.

LU STOUT: Nick Thompson, a champion and supporter of free speech. Thank you so much as always. And we'll talk again next week.

All right. Now tune into News Stream tomorrow for more on this topic. We'll be exploring what Internet users can do if they find themselves the target of trolls. Now that's part of CNN's commitment to investigating online abuse.

Now let's go back to our top story, the man who leaked details on a secret NSA surveillance program Edward Snowden has left a Moscow Airport. Let's go back to our Moscow correspondent Phil Black. And Phil, earlier you told us how you got the details confirmed from the lawyer that he has left the transit area of the airport. He's been granted temporary asylum. But could you also tell us what you've learned about WikiLeaks and their role in all of this.

BLACK: WikiLeaks has been tweeting and tipped off the world just moment before that Snowden had received the necessary paperwork, that his approval had been received and that he would be leaving the airport imminently.

They've been saying that they played a role in this throughout, that they have been by his side ever since Edward Snowden left Hong Kong. That was more than five weeks ago now and they say their representatives there, Harrison has been with him every step of the way, and continues to be with him.

And WikiLeaks says that they want to thank the Russian people for making this possible. And they've used some fairly inflammatory language in a sense and that they say they have won the battle, but now they have to start dealing with the war.

So, that's further confirmation backing up what we've already heard from Edward Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, who is the man who has been advising him every step of the way through his asylum seeking process in this country. And so it confirms that, yes, Snowden has left the airport for the first time in five weeks. He's crossed that immigration zone, entered Russia officially, and not just in a short-term way, not just while his application is being considered as we had expected would be the next step, but he has received approval for his temporary asylum application, which means he can now stay in this country for up to one year, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now, to confirm, Washington has no extradition agreement with Russia. And also are there intelligence agents, U.S. intelligence agents working in Russia who could potentially, well, have an authority to make an arrest if they find Snowden there?

BLACK: It would be a fairly extraordinary set of circumstances, you would have to think, if that would happen. The idea of American agents in any way grabbing Snowden and then somehow getting him out while on the sovereign territory of the Russian federation would be really quite an unbelievable escalation in this situation.

But what it certainly means, you would think, is that given that that is so unlikely that it reduces the chances to almost nothing of Snowden being returned to the United States in the near future.

There's always much further down the track. And who knows where he'll end up. How long he'll stay in Russia. Could he eventually vulnerable to some sort of intervention like that from the United States in another territory. But you have to think that while he is in Russia he is pretty much safe. And the Russian federation would not allow him to simply be snatched away in that way.

So, this is really the last development that the United States wanted to allow to happen since he arrived here. And it's really what they have been pressuring Russia to try and avoid. We know that this has taken place at a very high level. The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. We know the presidents of the two countries have spoken. The message has been sent by the United States, don't do this, don't let him in, don't give him any sort of official protection. But we know now that Russia has decided to do that regardless - Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, a recurring theme in reporting the ongoing saga of Edward Snowden is trying to calculate his next move. We know that when he was holed up in the transit area of that Moscow airport, he was studying up on Russia culture and Russian language. Do people believe that he plans to extend, hopefully, his temporary asylum in Russia or is he already plotting his next move?

BLACK: His lawyer has been saying that he wants to stay here beyond that one year that his temporary asylum allows. And he's been saying that for some time. And he says that's why he's been studying up on the language and the culture and so forth. And we are told that technically under Russian law it is possible to apply towards the end of that first year and seek an extension in that way.

So, yes, according to his lawyer, the one person we know who has been meeting with him on a fairly regular basis in recent weeks, he says, yes, Edward Snowden's intention is to stay here.

But that's very different to what we were hearing when Snowden first arrived here. Russia was not his first choice, by any means. At one point he sent out applications to some 20 countries or so for asylum, withdrew his asylum application from Russia because of that condition that the Russian government said, that he would have to stop agitating politically. He'd have to stop causing trouble for the United States.

Snowden at that stage was not prepared to meet that condition, withdrew that application. And we believe his intention then was still eventually to try and move on to one of those Latin American countries that was very happy to take him like Ecuador or Venezuela.

Faced with pretty much no other option, and with the belief that should he try to leave Moscow, the United States or its allies would do everything they possibly could to intercept him, that was when he fell back on the Russian option, that was when he said he was prepared to live by that condition that the Russian government have set. He vowed that he would do so. And it seems from the news that we have received today, that's good enough for the Russian government, because they have given him that short-term temporary asylum for one year. He is now allowed to live here with all the rights and freedoms of a Russian citizen for that duration - Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, Edward Snowden now calling Russia home.

Phil Black, thank you so much for your reporting.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still to come, a huge oil spill threatens the beaches of Thailand. And find out what caused the mess and what authorities are doing to clean it up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the popular tourist island of Koh Samet in Thailand used to have pristine white beaches, but an oil spill has changed all that. It happened over the weekend and has prompted evacuations and fears that the oil may reach the mainland. Andrew Stevens reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Day four of cleanup operations dawns and a rising tide brings a new wave of crude oil. As the sun comes up, almost 1,000 military workers and volunteers flood into this once idyllic little beach, working around the clock to contain a spill estimated at 50,000 liters, about 13,000 gallons, from a pipeline 16 kilometers away.

Thick, black crude oil in these collection tanks taken from the beach just over the past 24 hours, but most of the cleanup work now has been completed. Just three days ago, this beach behind me would have been covered in thick, black crud oil. And as you can see, it's now virtually cleared. And with each incoming tide, less and less oil is coming ashore.

BOWON VONGSINUDOM, PRESIDENT, PTT GLOBAL CHEMICAL: Now you can see it, not much left on the - even on the shore, right?

STEVENS: Bowon Vongsinudom, president of PTT Global Chemical, the partially state-owned oil group that was responsible for the spill, is in charge of the cleanup. He says nearly all the oil washing ashore will hit this beach and this beach alone. In other words, the slick will not spread to the other parts of Koh Samet, one of Thailand's most popular tourist destinations.

VONGSINDUDOM: No.

STEVENS: Why not?

VONGSINDUDON: Because the direction of the wind is this. And we follow the oil, therefore we know this is exactly the place that the oil coming in.

STEVENS: But PTT has come under fire. Critics say they were slow to respond and should have prevented the spill from reaching the beach altogether.

Just 3 kilometers away, a few bays down the coast, no sign of the spill. Day trippers from Bangkok and tourists from China splash in clear waters and play on clean, white sand.

But business is hurting. Despite a brisk trade, Prani Sansuwan (ph), owner of the White Sands Restaurant, says 50 percent of her bookings have backed out for this month.

"They're afraid of the oil slick," she says.

Nearby, a group of hair braiders wait in hope of pacing trade. There's hardly any. And at this seafood restaurant, owner Kenuret Bonure (ph) surveys her empty tables. She says customers are worried about eating seafood.

As the visible signs of the spill are mopped away, the question of longer term damage arises.

VONGSINDUDON: How about the fish? How about the environment here? That one we have to follow up, maybe a year or two years or I don't know how long.

STEVENS: The more immediate issue, though, is whether this picture post card beach will be back to its former beauty before the tourist high season kicks off in November. A lot of money rides on the answer.

Andrew Stevens, Koh Samet, Thailand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Well, it looks like they're making some progress with the cleanup. Let's get more on the conditions there in Thailand. Tom Sater joins us from the World Weather Center - Tom.

TOM SATER, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, what we want to have here are the winds and the ocean currents both moving in the same direction. If they're in different directions, it's very hard to try to find where the oil slick will be moving. They've been working through the evening, obviously. Authorities say 70 percent has been cleaned up. But let's understand, though, that's 70 percent of the oil slick out into the water. Once it's onshore, it's an entirely different story. It's a painstaking process that could take some time.

But what we watch is not just the local winds, but a broad scale. We do have a tropical storm here. I do not think that even though this is going to be large and moving up in toward northern Vietnam, I don't think that's going to play a major role with the local wind currents.

Although, when we get in here, you can see it looks like everything is offshore. But that's high aloft. It's the surface winds that are critical.

Right now, they've been prevailing out of the west, northwesterly. The ocean currents have been pretty much in the same direction. So you can follow the slick.

And just like the gentleman said, it does look like it may stay confined to the beach in this general area. Although, personnel with the Thai's royal navy concerned about it making to mainland Thailand as well.

The winds are west at the surface. We're going to follow the winds in the forecast. It does look like they will be pretty much moving in the same direction. That is good news. We don't want it to really be erratic.

And then we follow the ocean currents. And again, remember, if they're in the same direction, the same westerly direction, they have a better chance of following the spill, which is about 10 to 20 centimeters in depth.

Hopefully they'll be able to take care of that sooner than later.

We are continuing to watch, however - this is Jebi. It is a tropical storm. It is growing in its speed right now. Movement is about 15 kilometers per hour. 65 kilometer per hour winds, making its way very quickly up toward the west-northwest.

I think this will be mainly a rain maker than it will be a heavy wind maker.

But again right now, Kristie, it doesn't look like this larger scale feature will play a role on the cleanup a little bit further to the south in the coast - or the Gulf of Thailand. So good luck to them, ti's going to be a long process.

LU STOUT: Yeah, let's hope that spill - yeah, we want that spill to stay contained.

Tom Sater there, thank you so much.

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

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