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CONNECT THE WORLD
France Upset Over U.S. Spying; Fires Rage On In Southeastern Australia; South African Police Say Suspect Confessed To Raping, Murdering Two Toddler Girls
Aired October 21, 2013 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Fury in France over allegations the U.S. intercepted millions of phone calls there in just one month, including the calls of businessmen and politicians. Tonight, we ask former State Department spokesman PJ Crowley if this could be considered a case of industrial espionage.
Also ahead, battling an inferno, wildfires bigger than the entire city of New York burning through southeast Australia and could be about to get even worse.
Plus, charged with abduction, the Roma couple with this mystery girl will now face trial. We'll be live in Greece with the details.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Well, we begin tonight with outrage in France after claims of vast privacy breaches by U.S. spy agency. Now a report published in this morning's Le Monde newspaper alleges that the National Security Agency tapped 70 million phone calls over a 30 day period. Amongst those under surveillance by the NSA were French politicians, businesspeople and ordinary citizens, it is alleged.
Well, French diplomats immediately summoned the U.S. ambassador in for an explanation. The foreign minister called the report unacceptable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURENT FABIUS, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): These kind of practices between partners that violate privacy are totally unacceptable. We must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, this is unfolding at the same time the U.S. Secretary of State is in Paris for meetings and that is where Jim Bittermann is. And he joins us now live.
Uncomfortable times for Mr. Kerry.
Let's start with the story as we know. What do we know of the details of these allegations, Jim?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you I think pretty much enumerated it. And basically I think what has upset the French officials most is the extent of the spying, the idea that over the course of -- from December to January of this year, there were 70 million intercepts from France of various people. And the extent to which other people other than terrorists, or terror suspects were listened in on.
These were people like businessmen, like government officials. And I think that's what's upset them the most.
Now one of the things that it should be said is that some of this is a little bit disingenuous on the French part, because in fact they have been complaining about this since back in June. We didn't know the details as much back then. We didn't know about the 70 million, but in fact back in June when it was first reported that Edward Snowden had leaked these documents, the French took the Americans to task very publicly at the Fourth of July party at the American embassy. The interior minister here complained about the NSA spying, and then again in August the French complained at the swearing in -- not the swearing in, but the inauguration ceremony of Charles Rifkin when he got his Legion d'honneur, he in fact was lectured to by French president Francois Hollande.
So there have been a number of occasions where the French have done this, reiterated this complaint. And in fact at the same time on the Fourth of July occasion, in fact, Le Monde, the very same newspaper reported that the French DGSE, the intelligence service here, has been doing exactly the kinds -- same kind of spying, but perhaps not to the same extent as the NSA, Becky.
ANDERSON: Well, OK. You point out, and correctly so, the extent of these allegations. This number amounts to more than 2 million interceptions on average every day. Do we have any more details on who was targeted and why they were targeted during that one month period between December and January?
BITTERMANN: Oh, no, this is not the only time that the spying was going on. This is just an example that Le Monde found in the Snowden documents.
This is not to say it was the only spying that was going on there before or after. Just to give you an example of the volume that was taking place. And the other thing is that Le Monde has not been specific about who was being spied on, but they did say that apparently the way it worked was that certain phone numbers, certain email addresses, text message addresses and whatnot -- text message addresses were triggers for the recording equipment and basically once they were triggered by an incoming or an outgoing message they were then recorded. That's the suggestion in any case in the Le Monde article.
But there's not -- there's a lot of specifics lacking here. Clearly, though, the French government is upset about it -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Jim Bittermann is in Paris for you this evening. Jim, thank you for that.
The French claims, then, come hot on the heels of other spying allegations, let's remind ourselves. And allies of the United States are not happy. Mexico, Brazil, countries in Europe and China, these are just some places demanding answers from the U.S. and the NSA for intrusive methods.
Over the weekend, German news magazine Der Spiegel revealed how the agency systematically eaves dropped on Mexico's government, went as far as hacking into former president Felipe Calderon's email account. Mexico says it is a blatant violation of international law.
Well, the NSA won't comment on the claims and says the U.S. gathers intelligence in exactly the same manner as everyone else does. But keeping tabs on enemies is entirely different than tracking the moves of allies, surely.
Well, to discuss this, I'm joined now by PJ Crowley in Washington. He's a former State Department spokesman. He knows the ins and outs of what happens at State, and the machinations behind closed doors.
Do these allegations, sir, surprise you?
PJ CROWELY, FRM. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: No. They don't surprise me at all. You know, shocking, shocking. Nations spy on each other for a variety of reasons. The United States and France absolutely have a very deep and cooperative intelligence relationship and they share information constantly that relates to, you know, shared areas of concern.
I do think that, say, here in Washington over the past 30 days you have been reporting very significantly on, you know, the shutdown of the government of the United States and the prospect that the United State might default on its debt. I suspect very strongly that there were a number of intelligence services from around the world that were trying to figure out will in fact America default on its debt or will the president and the congress arrive at some sort of compromise, because their economies depended on the answer to that question.
So, it's part of the relationship that people try to understand the world, whether it's enemies that might threaten you or friends that have shared interest.
ANDERSON: All right, so your point is everybody is doing it and therefore it's OK. I'm not sure about that.
It's likely that these allegations have surprised the French.
Here's what the editor of Le Monde magazine said to us just about an hour ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIE NOUGAYREDE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, LE MONDE: It certainly seems from French official reactions that they've been taken aback, that they did not know to what extent this surveillance was happening. The prime minister has said he was shocked. The French foreign minister summoned the American ambassador to the foreign ministry. And so certainly on the surface of things it looks like they did not know much about what was going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So the U.S. defense in the past has been, well everybody is doing it, is one thing, but that was when we were talking about terrorism. You've just eluded to the fact that you wouldn't be surprised if other countries were spying on what was going on in Washington.
I just wonder whether our viewers would be satisfied with your defense. Is it really OK to spy on the private communications of businesses and officials. These guys are supposed to be allies, PJ.
CROWLEY: Well, I would say, you know, for example what has surprised a lot of people about the Snowden revelations is perhaps the scope of this. And, you know, millions of electronic communications sounds like a lot, but by the same token, you know, we're talking about a world of billions if not trillions of electronic communications that are vacuumed up by the National Security Agency, also by comparable capabilities in France and elsewhere. And you sift through them to see what that tells you about the dynamic that's happening in a particular country for which you rely on for your own security.
ANDERSON: All right, OK.
CROWLEY: Again, I'm not surprised by this.
ANDERSON: Your national security defense, or interest line is an interesting one, because I put it to you again, we are looking here at businesses and officials. The outrage in France, as Jim rightly pointed out, could largely be for domestic purposes, given the French government itself has been accused of its own snooping operation, political posturing if you will.
I put it to you, though, that these allegations are tantamount to industrial espionage.
CROWLEY: I'd be very careful. I mean, what we don't know -- what we do know from the story is that lots and lots of stuff has been vacuumed up and accumulated. We don't necessarily know, you know, how many and who, you know, the various targets were.
But let me give you an example within diplomacy. You know obviously, you know, on a particular issue France has a public line, the United States has a public line. They conduct regular diplomacy and a diplomat will say, hey, here's what really concerns us. But you want to also want to know below that what's the bottom line, what is there another part of the story that perhaps a leader is not telling you.
ANDERSON: So you break into their -- hang on a minute it...
CROWLEY: The United States tries to understand this dynamic, other countries...
ANDERSON: Yeah, I get it. So what you're saying is because I don't understand where the lines of negotiation might be, I'll break into or hack into somebody's private communications and find out where their next posture might be. That's illegal. That's just not fair. When you're -- I mean, when you're talking about business relationship here, what's the U.S. going to say so far as the free trade agreement with the EU is concerned? Well, let's break in to somebody's communications and find out before they get to the negotiating table. That's wrong.
CROWLEY: Well, I mean, the reality about intelligence operations is they try to steal stuff. I mean, that's the nature of why you have - - and obviously there's an awkwardness when either a hand is caught in the cookie jar or you have clear evidence that the hand was once in the cookie jar.
I mean, on the one hand this leads to moments like this where you have ambassadors called in an protests lodged publicly and privately. But at the end of the day what carries the day in terms of relationships are interests, alliances. And the United States and France have a close alliance and they'll weather whatever comes from this.
ANDERSON: So briefly, John Kerry isn't going to be feeling too ill at ease when he jumps off that plane in Paris, then, in the next few hours. He's not going to be admonished privately, you think just publicly right?
CROWLEY: Well, I think there will be an admonishment publicly. There will be expression of concern privately. And then the two various leaders will go about the business of managing this particular incident.
ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.
PJ Crowley, fascinating.
Still to come tonight, these bush fires in Australia may look pretty scary up close, but conditions, I've got to tell you, are about to get a whole load worse. Find out why up next.
And a mother's mission to North Korea to visit her imprisoned son. We'll bring you the CNN exclusive.
And, cutting it close. How two planes narrowly avoided crashing into each other over Scottish skies. All that and much more when Connect the World continues. 13 minutes past 8:00 in London. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Video taken from a helmet camera shows the terrifying conditions facing firefighters in Australia as they try to bring bush fires in Sydney under control. More than 200 homes were damaged or destroyed as the fires tore through an area which is larger than New York City.
Now more than 60 are still burning. And authorities are warning that three of them could merge to form what would be a huge blaze.
Well, fires are swallowing up large areas of bush land in the state of New South Wales and have spread across the Blue Mountains national park. Firefighters say it is unusual to see blazes this big so close to Sydney and warn that if the wind changes direction hundreds of thousands of buildings could be at risk.
CNN's Robyn Curnow is in the Blue Mountains town of Katoomba and has been speaking to those battling the fires.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're hear at the bush fire control center. It's from here that many of these operations are being coordinated. This is an around the clock operation. More than a 1,000 firefighters are out there now trying to contain these blazes. This is what authorities have to say.
STUART MIDGELY, NSW RURAL FIRE SERVICE INCIDENT CONTROLLER: We'll pick roads and fire trails. We will back burn from them under mild weather conditions. They'll then mop up or put out the fire between that break and the main fire. That takes the fuel out between the main fire and the break and therefore the fire will go out, because it has no fuel anymore.
CURNOW: And they've got their work cut out for them. Just to give you some sense of how big these fires are, the land that has already been burned out by these blazes is equivalent in size to the city of Los Angeles. And of course there's more to be expected, because in the coming days forecasters say the weather is going to get worse. Higher, stronger winds and also higher temperatures coupled with the fact that the vegetation, the undergrowth across much of this area is still very dry, very brittle. So there's a real concern that these fires could expand, could get so big that they all join up to create some sort of megafire.
So a lot of work as firefighters continue to battle it out here in the Blue Mountains.
Robyn Curnow at CNN, Australia.
ANDERSON: Well, Tom Sater joins me now from CNN's international weather center. And Tom, as Robyn mentioned in her report, conditions are about to take a turn for the worse. How?
TOM SATER, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've got a cold front on the way. It's not really going to drop temperatures, but it's going to kick the winds up. And Becky, what happens before these fronts move in the temperature rises. So it's everything that firefighters do not want: the high, extreme temperatures, the erratic winds. Hopefully we can get rain with this, but each computer model run that we look at wants to drop the rain from the picture. We need it.
Right now the insurance council of Australia says that this bill for this is up to $94 million. And they've already had 855 claims. And where Robyn is down toward the south from the larger fires, I'll show you it'll into a larger populated region.
Now right now it's just after 6:00 in the morning. I mean, it's 19. It's cool. This is what we're waiting on. The cold front. See the colors here? Higher cloud tops, colder cloud tops, maybe some rain with this. There will be rain, but most unfortunately most of it will be in Victoria.
But each time these fronts move in the winds change a little. Before a front moves in, notice now, winds are out of the south right now. Last Thursday when it was really bad, the winds were out of the west. And that's 50 kilometers away, the Blue Mountains from Sydney. So the smoke moves into the area.
But this is where the cold fronts mean everything, because watch the winds. Now this is where they are currently out of the south. And they go to the -- out of the north. This is before the front. We're going to start to see them come in from the interior sections where the temperature will rise into the 30s.
Here's the frontal passage. And this is why it gets really bad on Wednesday. The winds kick up. They shift. This is terrible for firefighters. And it looks like behind the front with very little rainfall possible, the winds remain strong on Thursday.
Now there is another front back behind this one, but that may stay too far south as we get into Friday. So the only chance of rainfall is going to come with this front on Wednesday when the winds kick up and get erratic.
Here's the situation, the State Mine fire is tremendous size. The fire front is 300 kilometers in length. Their fear is if it joins hands with the Mount Victoria fire -- because it's only a 2 kilometers separation here -- these two join. We've got a third one in the mix. If they get pushed down by those northerly winds, this is the heavy populated area where Robyn was in Katoomba. There's several, several structures, hundreds of families there.
Here's another problem, notice the amount of real estate that this has just been scorching. Yes, we have some that are still being controlled. Firefighters, 1,500 of them, doing risky business trying some containment lines, trying to do some control burns.
But again, when we look from space, the scar that you can see. And with these erratic winds, they cause these flames to jump rivers.
Now, if this becomes a mega storm, it is possible, and the threat is that it could get into the southern sections of Sydney.
Now some believe, who are on the scene there in the command center, that it's most likely that these fires could join, the two larger ones on Mount Victoria.
This is our chance of rain. Look closely at the brighter colors to our south.
Now there is a chance they maybe get a thunder shower with this, but most likely it's just going to come with possibly lightning. And that's dry lightning. And that causes more fires.
The winds are erratic, Becky, that's why this is -- we're just hoping that we get some moisture. Although forecasts right now -- just want to give maybe one or two millimeters with this. And unfortunately the temperatures kick up in the wrong direction. So the winds stay strong, unfortunately, back behind it.
ANDERSON: Really, things aren't looking good. Tom, thank you for that.
Best of luck out there.
Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, South African police say they have a confession in a sickening crime against two little girls. And later, adopted or abducted? A Greek court takes up the mysterious case of a little blonde girl found with a Roma couple.
It's 20 past 8:00 in London. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Right. You're back with us. 21 minutes past 8:00. I'm Becky Anderson in London. Here's a look at some of the other stories that we are following for you here on CNN.
I want to get you to Russia where a female suicide bomber is being blamed for what was a deadly bus explosion that killed five people. Now this video you're about to see appears to show the moment the bus blew up in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.
Now, at least 20 people were injured, seven of them are in critical condition. A criminal investigation is now underway.
The European court of human rights has criticized Russia for its inadequate investigation of the 1940 Catan (ph) massacre, but said it does not have the authority to rule on the matter. As many as 22,000 Polish soldiers were murdered at pointblank range during World War II to preemptively suppress a rebellion against Communist rule. After decades of blaming Nazi Germany, Russia finally admitted to the crimes in 1990.
To Pakistan where at least seven people have been killed and 16 more wounded after a series of explosions on a passenger train in the south. Police say three coordinated bombs went off as the train traveled through Bolochistan Province. Nobody has claimed responsibility for that attack.
Well, South Africa is all too accustomed to violent crime, but what happened there last week left much of the nation in disbelief. The victims were two little girls. And what happened to them is sickening, too horrific to even comprehend.
Hala Gorani has got the story for you.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a country with one of the world's highest rapes, a violent and sexual crime, it's a case that has shocked South Africa. Two little girls, cousins, age two and three, raped and strangled. Their mutilated bodies discovered in a public toilet last week.
Grieving family and friends gathered for the funeral this weekend. The little girls laid to rest in matching small white coffins.
The brutal killings sparked outrage in Deep Sloot Township (ph), the densely populated slum outside of Johannesburg where the girls lived. Hundreds of residents clashed with police last week, burning tires and blocking roads, demanding justice.
Police arrested five suspects in the murder last week. Prosecutors say one of the men has now confessed to the crime.
The 29-year-old appeared in court briefly on Monday.
MEDUPE SIMASIKU, SPOKESMAN, NAITONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY: He has confessed to the crime itself, but I can't reveal the details now.
GORANI: Prosecutors say the other four men under arrest have not confessed.
SIMASKIKU: Adding to the charges is two counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of rape each.
GORANI: South African government officials already are calling for life sentences against the suspects.
LULU XINGWANA, SOUTH AFRICAN MINISTER FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN: We are also saying, calling on our (inaudible), to ensure that they get the toughest sentences in the land, the maximum sentence.
GORANI: All five men are scheduled to appear in court later this week.
Hala Gorani, CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, it's been exactly a month since the deadly terror attack on a Kenyan mall that killed 67 people, but the nightmare continues. Footage has emerged suggesting that soldiers looted the mall as it was under attack.
Well, earlier CNN's Zain Verjee asked Kenyan deputy president William Ruto about those allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Many Kenyans feel quite upset when they see images of the military that were looting inside the mall. How do you explain that?
WILLIAM RUTO, DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF KENYA: I must admit that is an unfortunate incident. And the president has launched an inquiry to find out exactly what happened. And that inquiry is underway. And we will take corrective measures to ensure that anybody, and every person who participated in this mall incident that may have overstepped their mandate will be brought to book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, you can see the full interview tomorrow morning on CNN Newsroom 10:00 am London, that's 11:00 am in Paris and Berlin.
Britain will get its first nuclear power plant in 20 years. France's EDF Energy will lead the project, subsidized by guarantees from the British government, we are told.
Now Britain has agreed to pay a set price for energy from the plant for 35 years. It's the first time a European country has made this sort of deal.
Well, as the UK pushes for more nuclear power, there are new concerns about Japan's disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant. Tepco, the utility company that operates the plant says highly radioactive water overflowed barriers following heavy rains on Sunday and may have gone into the ocean.
Well, this as a team from the UN's nuclear watchdog wrapped up what was a week long review of cleanup efforts in Fukushima. The team's leader insists food from the region is safe to eat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN CARLOS LENTIJO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE: Ensures that the product in the market is without any danger of radiation -- it's safe for consuming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Portugal and France have been kept apart in Europe's World cup playoff draw, but it's still an interesting road ahead to Brazil 2014. Portugal will go head to head with Sweden who are desperate for a spot after missing out on South Africa in 2010.
1998 World Cup winners France up against Ukraine. That's going to be a tough match. While Euro 2004 champions Greece take on Romania.
And Iceland, surprise into the group, of course, will be battling Croatia. And if they win, they'll become the smallest nation to make the World Cup.
Latest world news headlines are just ahead as you would expect here on CNN.
Plus, they are charged with abducting this little girl, but a Roma couple says authorities have got it all wrong. We've got a live report on their first court appearance.
And reunited, but not for long, the mother of American prisoner Kenneth Bae tells CNN her story. Our exclusive report.
Plus, close call. Two planes fly dangerously close to each other as pilots fail to follow instructions. Find out more on that after this.
ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories for you this hour. A case of awkward timing for US secretary of state John Kerry, who's now in Paris amid new allegations of spying by his country's National Security Agency. The French newspaper "Le Monde" says the NSA intercepted more than 70 million phone communications in France earlier this year.
In Russia, a female suicide bomber is being blamed for a deadly bus explosion that killed 5 people. At least 20 were injured, 7 of them are in critical condition. Criminal investigation is underway.
A desperate battle in southeastern Australia to keep three large bush fires from merging into a single mega fire. Scores of blazes are burning, and they've already consumed an area larger than New York City. They're being fueled by hot, dry, and windy conditions.
A Greek court has charged a Roma couple with abducting this little girl they call Maria. They could face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted. The couple says they adopted the girl from a Bulgarian woman who couldn't care for her.
Well, let's do more now on the mysterious case of little Maria. Interpol is helping Greek authorities conduct a massive search for the girl's biological parents. She was picked up last week during a raid on a Roma camp near the city of Larissa.
Police became suspicious because the girl is blonde and blue-eyed while her parents are, as they are known, had darker complexions. They arrested the couple after DNA tests proved she was not their biological child.
The Roma community has just released this video to the media in an effort to show that Maria was happy and well-cared for. It appears to show the girl dancing with the woman who says adopted her. Police say they are investigating every possible scenario, including child trafficking.
The couple charged with abducting Maria are being held pending trial. Journalist Elinda Labropoulou is in Larissa where the court hearing took place. Elinda, you've got the latest for us?
ELINDA LABROPOULOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm standing right outside the place, the police headquarters where the two are being remanded in custody. They will be moved -- they will be transferred to a prison until impending trial.
We did have the results of the court today. The two have now been charged with abducting a minor and also falsifying papers. What this effectively means is that the little girl is now going to stay at this charity which is now taking care of it. We've been hearing that it's in good shape, that it's adapting to the new environment.
And later the court will decide what will happen with the little girl, whether it will be given to a foster home or how it will carry on with -- until a decision is made on what happens with these parents.
As it is, it seems that the police are currently look for its biological mother. From the first information that we have, the woman appears to be Bulgarian. Now, the couple in question say that the woman gave them the child, that she could no longer take care of it, and they adopted it. As a lawyer put it, well, it wasn't done quite legally, but this is what actually took place.
Of course, with the charges -- the criminal charges that we have now, we will have to wait and see what the case actually is.
ANDERSON: Elinda, thank you for that, the details as we know them. Well, our next guest says the case of Maria reminds all of us of the need to remain vigilant. Jo Youle is the chief executive of the charity Missing People. She's also helped found the English Coalition for Runaway Kids.
And let's just start by impressing upon people that these -- this couple are guilty -- sorry, innocent until proven guilty. They could be innocent.
JO YOULE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MISSING PEOPLE: Absolutely. And we at the moment don't know the details of the case, but what we do know is that a very young girl here and the most important thing is that the appeals go out and hopefully she's reunited with the people who are her biological parents.
ANDERSON: How common are these cases?
YOULE: Well, this case is highly unusual for a child, maybe, to be abducted, to be taken away is unusual, thankfully. But the scale of missing children across Europe, across the UK, is significant.
So, something like 250,000 children are reported missing every year across Europe, and it's so important that appeals go out for all missing children and that children are reunited as quickly as possible.
ANDERSON: How well do authorities communicate around the world? What's the sharing of information like here?
YOULE: Well, the speed of communication has speeded up massively over the last few years, and certainly at the charity, we work very closely with our police partners, as do our partner agencies in Europe, such as Smile of the Child.
We're part of an organization called Missing Children Europe, and we all work very closely to get appeals out incredibly quickly. So the police would let us know that a high-risk missing child, the whereabouts unknown, and we would get that appeal out, and it's so important to do so.
ANDERSON: Jo, stick with us for the moment. This case, of course, has given hope to parents of missing children all over the world, including our next guest, Kerry Needham. Her son, Ben, went missing in Greece in 1991. She's joining us now from Dalyan in Turkey.
The case of Ben is one of the longest-running missing persons cases in British history. Kerry, when you heard the story of Maria, how did it make you feel?
KERRY NEEDHAM, MOTHER OF MISSING BOY (via telephone): A lot of mixed emotions, to be quite honest. Obviously, we were so happy and delighted that this little girl has been found and hopefully she can be reunited with her biological parents.
But there's also a little bit of anger in there as well because we've had lots and lots of information over the years that Ben was taken by Gypsies, he's been living amongst the Gitan Gypsies for so many years in and around the surrounding areas of Larissa.
And the Greek police unfortunately have not really investigated these leads thoroughly as they've always said that Gypsies don't steal other people's children because they have enough of their own.
And also it would be impossible -- this is their words -- impossible to hide a blond-haired and blue-eyed child within their encampment. Obviously, with the finding of Maria, this actually proves the Greek authorities wrong yet again. So --
ANDERSON: All right.
NEEDHAM: -- a little bit angry, a little bit frustrated, but delighted of the news.
ANDERSON: Yes, and it's fascinated to listen to. I do have to emphasize at present we -- this couple are innocent until proven guilty, but you point out, Kerry, that you've always believed Ben was kidnapped --
NEEDHAM: Of course.
ANDERSON: -- with the intention of either selling him for adoption or for child trafficking. And whilst authorities say, Jo -- stay with me, Kerry -- there is no evidence to support that, just what is the scope of child abduction for trafficking or adoption?
YOULE: We think it could be on a global scale, but we don't know, and that's the true story. So, collection of information across Europe, across the world, probably needs to be tightened up so we know what we're dealing with.
But I think hearing Kerry talk there, we know that families left behind face an intolerable nightmare, not knowing where a child is. It's bad enough if you lose a child for a few minutes in a supermarket, but to be facing the situation years later.
And it's so important for families to know that everything that can be done is being done and that the search for a missing child, a missing loved one, is kept alive over -- if it takes years, then it needs to be years. And we know that this week families -- Kerry included, and our fingers are crossed -- that their hopes have been renewed in some by this event.
ANDERSON: And Kerry, your heart bleeds when you realize that your hopes will be raised again in some ways, but then one crosses our fingers and hopes for the best. Kerry, how do you feel that police techniques have improved if at all over this 21-year period?
NEEDHAM: They -- in all honesty, they have improved, they really have. Over the last three or four years, I would say, we've actually got quite a good relationship now with the Greek police. They seem to be very, very helpful.
A lot more of the police, obviously, couldn't speak English, they've all got access to the Internet where lines of communication between myself and the Greek authorities and the South Yorkshire police, and the Greek authorities have really, really improved.
So, I know Ben went missing 22 years ago and things were quite different back then. Things have changed. I just hope that they will continue to change in the future and they will keep every single line of inquiry open between myself and the South Yorkshire police.
ANDERSON: And Jo, that must resonate with you.
YOULE: Absolutely. And as an organization, we're dedicated to making sure that appeals go out for missing children, that the search is kept alive, and also that a missing child, if they are old enough, knows that there help lines across Europe that they can contact and get back in touch. They're confidential help lines, we provide one at the charity, it's 24/7, the team are there as I'm sitting here.
And so, if any child or anybody's got any information and they want to ring a confidential help line, then please put a call through to the charity.
ANDERSON: I have to ask you, because this story has been not just all over the Greek and British press, but all over the world. Will this increase a negative view of the Roma, do you think? Already a very stigmatized community.
YOULE: I think we absolutely need to be very careful here. We need to understand what this is about and most situations are very complex. And certainly we know from speaking to missing people and speaking to families that situations and people's histories are unique to them. And until we know, I think we need to be very careful.
But we need to make sure that the issue of missing of children is kept very high on the profile and also that families have the support that they need, not just in terms of the practical search, which of course is the number one priority, but also emotional support to help them through really some of the worst times.
ANDERSON: Let me close this out with a -- perhaps a point of optimism, if you will. Kids do get found.
ANDERSON: Don't they?
YOULE: Yes. And I think it's fair to say that at Missing People and our partners across Europe on a regular day-to-day basis, most missing children come back very quickly.
And it's only in a small percentage of cases -- and our hearts go out to the families, and Kerry in this situation years later, still not knowing. And the thought that they may never know the answer is just unbearable, which is why we need to renew our efforts.
ANDERSON: But Kerry, you will never give up, will you?
NEEDHAM: No, never. No, never. I know that my son is alive, he's out there somewhere, it just takes that one person to come forward, tell us what they know. Someone obviously does know what happened to Ben or even where he is right now or where he was. Someone holds some information regarding my son.
Ad if it takes me until my last breath, I will continue to fight and will continue to look for him until he actually gets to hear the truth from mine or my family's lips of what happened to him.
ANDERSON: Kerry Needham and Jo Youle, to both of you, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening. Thank you.
Well, live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MYUNGHEE BAE, MOTHER OF KENNETH BAE: My worst fear is they'll send him back to the labor camp --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: A CNN exclusive as the mother of an American prisoner tells about her trip to see her son. That's after this.
ANDERSON: We've got an update now on Kenneth Bae, the American held prisoner in North Korea. He's been held in the isolated country for the past 11 months, accused of plotting to overthrow the government, and received a sentence of 15 years hard labor for his so-called hostile acts.
Well, Bae's mother has spent a year desperately -- excuse me -- campaigning to get her son out of prison. Recently she was granted a short visa to visit him and spoke to CNN about that. Paula Hancocks has our exclusive interview.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An embrace filled with emotion as a mother hugs the son she fears she could lose. Kenneth Bae has been held prisoner in North Korea for 11 months. His mother, Myunghee, speaks exclusively to CNN about her recent visit.
BAE: My heart was aching when I saw him with a hospital garment in a -- confined in a small space.
HANCOCKS: Myunghee Bae says his health has improved a little since this interview was filmed in August. Bae was hospitalized, suffering from a catalog of illnesses, including diabetes, heart problems, and back pain.
BAE: I really cried a lot after I saw this picture. I really couldn't believe that prisoner is my son.
HANCOCKS: Bae, an American citizen, was arrested in November of last year. He was sentenced in May to 15 years hard labor for what North Korea called "hostile acts" and plotting to overthrow the government. His mother says he didn't discuss the reasons for his arrest when she met him, but he does have a love for North Korea and its people.
BAE: I think his face was so strong. He wanted to convey some -- his way, so that is the very conflict of the -- their way that last year.
HANCOCKS: Bae was allowed to visit her son in hospital three times while in North Korea, which she is very grateful for, but was unable to meet with any officials to plead his case. She begs the regime for mercy and is terrified Bae will be sent back to the labor camp.
BAE: That's my worst fear because I don't think his body can endure eight hours labor a day, six days a week.
HANCOCKS: Vigils have been held back home in Seattle for Bae. His mother tells me letters from supporters around the world help to keep him mentally strong. Bae told his mother he is being treated fairly and is being held in a special labor camp where he is the only prisoner, surrounded by guards and doctors.
Myunghee Bae tells me of the moment she had to say good-bye.
BAE: How long will it take to see him again? How long should I wait for him to return? It's very hard to leave him over there.
HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
ANDERSON: Coming up after this short break, heading for danger. Two jumbo jets fly towards each other before changing course at the 11th hour.
ANDERSON: Well, a terrifying near collision for two jumbo jets flying in the skies over Scotland. According to a report issued by investigators, the two Boeing 747s came within 100 feet of each other in June.
Now, the near collision was avoided when the planes flew at different altitudes. It's unclear how the four pilots involved failed to follow the instructions that they were given. Earlier, I spoke to Richard Quest, who's an aviation expert, as you know, and asked him what actually happened.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know that there were two Boeing 747 jumbo jets flying over Scotland about to head out over the Atlantic. One of the planes was told to climb and, in doing so, would have put it onto a collision course with the other one.
At that point, the air traffic controller gave instructions -- immediate avoidance instructions, but the pilots on the planes misunderstood the instructions and took each other's. So instead of flying away from each other, they actually flew closer to each other.
Now, in this particular case, there was never a risk -- a real risk of a collision because this pilot could always see this plane. So, he always knew where everybody was in the sky. But it does raise the very real questions, obviously, the air traffic controller that sent the plane up in the first place, and secondly, Becks, why did these pilots get the wrong instructions for the wrong plane?
ANDERSON: Yes, now listen, this near-collision over Scotland is by no means an isolated event, is it? In June this year, a plane at New York's LaGuardia airport took off into the path of, I believe, a Delta 747 that was coming into land. The 747 had to veer away in what's known as a missed approach, I believe.
In Washington, DC last year, a communication error by traffic control nearly sent three planes into each other at Reagan International Airport. And in 2010, Richard, you'll remember a pilot on the ground at Boston Logan Airport took a wrong turn straight into the path of an oncoming aircraft. Air traffic control were able to alert him just in time. These near-collisions or near-misses, just how often do they happen?
QUEST: You have to distinguish between the severities of these incidents: high, medium, and low. The tolerance level is so small in the sense that, let's take this particular case with these 747s.
Yes, they got close to each other, but there was always a good deal of separation, several nautical miles horizontally, and even when that was breached, there was 1100 miles between them vertically. They were never really on top of each other.
Now, of course, I'm not minimizing what could have been a much more serious incident, but what I'm saying is that the parameters are set, and if they are breached, we know about them very quickly. And that's why you do know about the Delta LaGuardia Kennedy. You do know about the Reagan National and you do know about the Boston.
Does it mean we should be concerned? No, I don't think it does. I think it means that people are doing their jobs, and when things go a bit wrong or get too close, they're put right.
ANDERSON: Very briefly, then, back to the Scotland case, and you suggested that the big question here is, why did they misinterpret? Why did these pilots misinterpret these instructions? Do we have an answer for that?
QUEST: No. We don't. And the report says we don't know the answer to it. We don't -- we do know why the air traffic controller sent the plane up to that altitude, and there seems to be nothing really wrong with that.
And we do know that correct information was given that if those pilots had followed the instructions properly, they wouldn't even have breached separation regulations. Everything -- we wouldn't even know about this.
But what we don't know -- and this is the complexity of today's aviation, Becks -- what it really comes down to, if you're really asking me what I think it all comes down to, it doesn't come down to technology, it comes down to the relationships in the cockpit, it comes down to the training, and it comes down to the way in which the pilots work with each other and air traffic control.
CRM, crew resource management. That's what this really all comes down to.
ANDERSON: Richard Quest on what was a very terrifying report when I saw it earlier on today.
Now, in tonight's Parting Shots, most of us have used crayons to make art, but probably not like how artist Diem Chau uses them. The Seattle-based artist is sculpting an A to Z of wildlife native to the northwestern United States. It's a big idea on a tiny scale. Have a look.
DIEM CHAU, ARTIST: A is for Aquilegia. B is for Bald Eagle. C is four Cougar. D is for dogwood. E is for elk. F is for Fox.
I really liked the grizzly bear. Some animals are a little more challenging than others because the crayon is very cylindrical and very tall, and so to make the characters of the animals fit that space is yet another challenge.
So, with the bear, you usually see them on all fours. Sometimes they'll do the standup, and so I carved him standing up holding a fish.
At fist, I worked small out of necessity. I had a very small studio. It felt like an office cubicle. I work small because it -- it was about being able to have access to what I needed to be creative.
I've actually worked on pencil for a long time before I worked on crayons, and the amount of space you can carve with a pencil is just so small. And once I had found crayons, it was just -- a light went off.
I primarily use one single knife, and it's a Japanese wikwok (ph) knife, so it kind of looks like a sharpie. And I also use maybe little needles for very fine detail.
V is for Viola. W is for Wolf Eel. X is for Xanthogrammica. Y is for Yuma myotis. And Z is for Zapus princeps.
I would feel that if someone would see a piece like this that they would see just that there's a great variety in nature, and to even lose one I think would be just a terrible thing.
ANDERSON: That's it from us good night.