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G20 Summit; Russia Steps Up Spying in U.S.; Trump Calls Out Russia Ahead of Putin Showdown; Samsung Selling Refurbished Galaxy Note 7; Amelia Earhart Mystery Photo. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 7, 2017 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM. Live from Los Angeles and ahead this hour, strongman showdown. The Trump- Putin bilateral talks now just hours away and a lot at stake.

The meeting comes as intelligence sources tell CNN Russia is ramping up espionage activity in the U.S. Nearly 150 suspected Russian spies now believed to be in America.

And the return of the Galaxy 7. The once fire-prone phone back with a new name, design and price.

And welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Michael Holmes, thanks for your company. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


HOLMES: The anticipation building in Hamburg, Germany, where U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin will meet face to face for the first time in just a few hours.

Mr. Trump arrived in Hamburg on Thursday for the G20 summit, meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders. The city has been gripped by protests ahead of the summit. Demonstrators setting fire to trash cans, police responding with water cannon; 76 officers were hurt.

CNN has reporters around the globe, covering the summit from every angle. Nic Robertson is in Hamburg, Germany; Ivan Watson in Moscow for us and Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea.

Nic, let's start with you. Let's talk about those protests just briefly because they're not uncommon at these sorts of meetings but do attract a bit of attention.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They do; 76 police officers injured last night, water cannon was used, a large crowd up to about 10,000 protesters not unusual here.

The police did try to tell the protesters they did need to remove their face coverings because that was illegal. They weren't allowed to protest the march in that way. And that's when the confrontations happened with the police.

The police don't have numbers on the number of protesters injured. But it's not -- and arrested -- but it's not uncommon to get large protests like this. And this one was not large by the German standards by any stretch of the imagination. The protests have begun today, already a confrontation between protesters dressed in red and police, tear gas fired.

And I'm looking our to the right here. There's a police helicopter hovering above three very heavily smoking fires in the city there and the police this morning are saying people have satellite vehicles, burning vehicles and other pyrotechnic material. That's what the police say is happening this morning. There's a police helicopter hovering above that right now.

So the protests were expected here. There are a lot of police on the streets and the areas for it have been very much controlled. But it does seem it's going to be an ongoing experience through the G20 -- Michael.

Let's talk about the business end, Nic, for a moment. The bilateral that everyone is waiting for and that, of course, is Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

What are the expectations there?

ROBERTSON: U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson has played down the expectations inasmuch as there'll be some kind of huge breakthrough between the two men or even that there will be a confrontation between the two men over meddling in the U.S. elections, which there's a lot of pressure on President Trump to raise with President Putin.

The way secretary of state Rex Tillerson cast this is that, behind the scenes, there have phone conversations and he himself has met with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, on occasion.

There's an ongoing dialogue but this is the first chance for the two leaders to get together and set what the future relationship will be between the two countries, given how much their intertwined nature and the meddling in the U.S. elections has been in the headlines for so long.

This will be a chance for the two men themselves to frame it. But we do expect Syria to come up, we do expect Ukraine to come up. President Trump yesterday very clearly saying that Russia needs to stop, essentially, its involvement in the Ukraine, stop destabilizing places like Ukraine and other places around the world. Come into the international fold. Not back dictators like President Assad in Syria and the Iranian government at the same time.

So we can expect Syria and Ukraine to be part of the conversation.


ROBERTSON: Will he put it as robustly as he did yesterday in the speech in Warsaw? We perhaps won't know that. And of course North Korea, which is very

important to President Trump right now, getting a U.N. Security Council resolution that puts tougher sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear program and its missile program.

President Putin has already authored or was quoted in a newspaper article here, saying that he doesn't believe that sanctions work. Perhaps he means that more in relation to him in Russia, sanctions that have been placed on Russia over Ukraine and other issues over its involvement in Ukraine and other issues.

So we can expect -- we can expect that to be some part of the conversation. But really, I think if we look to the U.S. secretary of state, the framing here is one of trying to find a way and a relationship for the two countries going forward -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Nic, thanks so much there In Hamburg for us.

Let's go to Ivan Watson in Moscow.

And, Ivan, President Trump, we heard in Warsaw, playing down Russian involvement in meddling in the U.S. election. A lot of speculation it might not even come up. But the meeting is something that Mr. Putin might raise.

What do we know of the Russian to-do list for this bilat?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there might be a bright spot here between these two countries that a top Kremlin official described as their relations being at zero just a few days ago.

The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, he was quoted Thursday, saying that recent statements by the U.S. secretary of state regarding Syria might be a step in the right direction. And those were proposals from Tillerson talking about success, relative success between Russia and the U.S. in the grinding Syrian conflict when it comes to establishing deconfliction zones and then when the U.S. diplomat raised the possibility of discussing no-fly zones as well.

Lavrov saying that this is the first time that the American side has raised that. And perhaps might be an area where the two sides could cooperate. Areas where there are new disagreements involve North Korea. Russia standing by its conclusion that North Korea did not fire an intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this week, though Pyongyang has claimed that.

Though the U.S. has come to the conclusion that it was an ICBM, the Russians insisting it was a medium-range ballistic missile. And where some might have thought Moscow and Washington could have worked together on Pyongyang since Russia has supported United Nations Security Council resolutions in the past that ban North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, Russia has been of the position this week, saying further economic blockade against North Korea, that is not good and also stressing that it doesn't want to see the U.S. using the United Nations Security Counsel and passing resolutions that would authorize further military force or deployment of further weapons systems to South Korea.

So there's an area where the Russians probably won't be able to cooperate with the U.S. further, though logically that's an area where, in the past, they have shown signs of cooperation -- Michael.

HOLMES: A lot of issues on the table. Ivan, thanks for that, Ivan Watson there in Moscow for us.

And Paula Hancocks comes to us from Seoul in South Korea.

And talking about that missile launch, we heard some interesting comments today from the South Korean leader. Fill us in on that and how that is a change from recent days but in line with what he said in the past.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Michael. This is President Moon Jae-in. He was speaking to a think tank on Thursday in Germany and he effectively gave his North Korean policy. He outlined what he wanted to see.

And he did say that if conditions were right and if it did seem that North Korea wanted to ease tensions, then he would be willing to meet with Kim Jong-un and he said anytime, anywhere.

Now this is something he has said before but certainly not since the ICBM launch. There was question as to whether not --


HANCOCKS: -- that launch meant that he was less pro-engagement than he had been. And this was our answer, the fact that he is still very much pro-dialogue (INAUDIBLE) North Korea.

He also said that he didn't wish to see the collapse of North Korea and did not want to push for a unification through absorption. So trying to pacify in some ways the North Koreans or at least to reassure the regime that regime change is not in his mind.

Now very different scenes on the other side of the DMZ, the border splitting the Korean Peninsula. We saw massive celebrations --


HANCOCKS: -- on the streets of Pyongyang after that ICBM launch. This was from of the top leadership within the regime, also the scientists, those who were involved in this launch and people dancing on the streets. So really to show a very different scene to the rest of the world deciding what to do about North Korea; within in North Korea there are celebrations -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, it was interesting what President Moon had to say and then listening to what Donald Trump had to say in Warsaw, where he spoke of "pretty severe things" that he is considering.

HANCOCKS: That's right. There was a fairly strong rhetoric from President Trump himself. I mean, certainly it seems to be the case at this point that South Korea is moving more towards the China and Russia idea of how to deal with North Korea and the U.S. seems a little more isolated.

Let's listen to what the president said.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as North Korea's concerned, I don't know. We'll see what happens. I don't like to talk about what I have planned. But I have some pretty severe things that we're thinking about. That doesn't mean we're going to do them. I don't draw redlines.


HANCOCKS: It's clear that North Korea's going to be one of the main things talked about over the next couple of days. All the leaders at the G20 clearly agree on one thing, that a nuclear North Korea is not ideal, is not required, is not wanted. But of course there are many different ideas of how to get to that point, where there is denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

HOLMES: Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea, thanks.

Let's continue our coverage of this with Aaron David Miller, CNN global affairs analyst and vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

Always good to see you, sir. Thanks so much for this.

What is the best in your view that Donald Trump could come away with from a face-to-face with Vladimir Putin?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Probably not making concessions that abandon American interests and principles. The best, raising the issue of Russian hacking perhaps into our most cherished and viable institution, the election of an American president.

But that's all, I suspect, for a galaxy far, far away. I think here back here on planet Earth president probably won't raise in a major way the hacking for any number of reasons.

I think to some degree, Russian and American interests on a variety of issues, from violations in the '87 INF treaty to Ukraine to Crimea to European security, seem to be those gaps seems to be right now unbridgeable. There might be some room for cooperation on Syria.

I think the Russians and the Americans have worked out a pretty good deconfliction arrangement there and I think if they could figure out a way to deepen and broaden those understandings, it might have a way of ramping down the violence.

But even then, we're playing on Vladimir Putin's script, which is essentially enabling and further ensconcing Bashar al-Assad. So this is not a transformational moment, Michael, in U.S.-Russian relations. At best, it's a transactional moment to see whether or not some sort of process can be created that would allow some improvement in a relationship that's not just strained. Arguably it's right now dysfunctional.

HOLMES: It was interesting, the president in Poland, he did call on Russia to stop destabilization in Ukraine.

But still questioning whether it was even Russia who meddled in the election despite the view of the international community.

What do you make of that continued doubt, especially going into this meeting?

MILLER: I think particularly against what CNN is reporting tonight or has been reporting recently on the uptick in the FBI views as an uptick in Russians' efforts to have more agents come to the United States and to amp up their intelligence operations here.

It's hard to know; there's a certain opaqueness and difficulty for me to understand why the Putin exception in Mr. Trump's mind.

To see whether or not he can go where George W. Bush and Barack Obama never went, that is to say create a functional relationship with Vladimir Putin?

If we could it would certainly be a boom to American interests. But I can't explain and I'm not prone to gravitate towards conspiracy theories why in fact the president has made this Putin -- what I call the Putin exception, which seems a reluctance to criticize.


Yes, I think it was important that the president reaffirmed Article 5 today. It was important that he talked about Russian efforts to undermine Ukraine. That's all to the good.

HOLMES: In the broader contest of the G20, meeting Mr. Putin of course but other leaders as well and you sort of allude to this, Trump likes to freewheel and deal and be spontaneous and the question, I suppose, is, does that work in the world of international leaders who prepare and study and maneuver and, you know, perhaps in the case of Mr. Putin, manipulate?

MILLER: Well, I don't think it works. I think there's a certain degree of advantage in unpredictability and spontaneity. Having worked for half a dozen secretaries of state of both political parties, having voted for both political parties, I'm a great believer in something called the American national interests, which transcends politics.

And understanding what that is and how best to protect it requires an enormous degree of discipline, patience and, above all, Michael, above all, it really means knowing what you don't know and being in a hurry to find out.

HOLMES: He's among leaders who have despaired at U.S. disengagement on things, everything from globalization, trade, climate change and the like. I'm wondering how you think his position on the world stage is at the moment, when he's among those leaders, who are looking elsewhere, peeling off, if you like, and looking for leadership elsewhere.

Where do you see his position and how important this G20 is for that position?

MILLER: Well, you could argue the G20 is going to be three times plus one more awkward and difficult than the G7. This is a kind of a broader stage on which to demonstrate what Mr. Trump's view of the world really is. I find it somewhat anomalous, though, that he embodies an America first philosophy and yet he does rely on others to accomplish and to achieve American objectives. It's quite ironic.

Mr. Putin, he seems to have reserves to cooperate with Mr. Putin if he can. He's put a lot of stock in the Saudis and some of the Gulf states to achieve his objectives in the Middle East.

He's finally come around to reaffirming what should not be transactional bargaining tool but which is what is a very vital and sacred commitment, Article 5. By and large, I think he's demonstrated, much to the dismay of the Europeans, that this is not your grandfather's foreign policy.

And on critical issues like trade and climate change, where in fact American leadership is important not just in principle but to protect American interests and to guarantee global international stability, Mr. Trump has a very risk-averse, almost muscular economic, American nationalist view of the world.

And frankly, I don't think that sits well.

HOLMES: Interesting times indeed. And also a time when Japan is just inking in a deal with the E.U., which could hurt America as Japan looks elsewhere on trade.

We've got to leave it there, sadly. Aaron David Miller as always, our thanks for your expertise.

MILLER: Thank you so much, Michael. It's always a pleasure.

HOLMES: Going to take a short break now. When we come back, Russia conducting more cloak and dagger operations in the U.S. And it's all because of last year's elections, supposedly. We'll explain when we come back.





HOLMES: Welcome back. Intelligence sources are telling CNN Russia is stepping up spying

efforts in the U.S. Since November, U.S. officials have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the country under the guise of other business.

They say Moscow feels emboldened after seeing no significant response from either the Obama or Trump administrations to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A former intelligence official says the increase could also be an attempt to understand the new Trump administration, which Russian officials view as unpredictable.

Let's dig into all of this with CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. She joins us via Skype from Newton, Massachusetts.

Always a pleasure to see you.

What do you make of these reports?

Russian spies far from being put off by all this attention being given to election meddling, in fact ramping up their efforts in the U.S.?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think we should anticipate that and have expected it. The spy network from Russia but also from any country will take advantage of vacuums in leadership, sense of fighting or infighting in a country, that the differences between what Donald Trump, the president, says and what the intelligence community says.

So, in some ways, they're greasing the runway for whatever they have planned for 2018 or 2020. Now as you said, Michael, parts of this are done all the time. You have spies that are trying to figure out a new administration, they're trying steal business secrets, whatever.

But the amount of activity we're seeing out of Russian intelligence agencies is tied to the inability of the United States to respond effectively to what they did in 2016.

HOLMES: So you'd subscribe to that, they're feeling emboldened?

The thing is, we all know countries spy on each other. No doubt the U.S. is busily spying in Russia as we speak.

But what would Russia be wanting by increasing their efforts?

Now is it to take advantage of that vacuum, as you say, or that they are just feeling emboldened because nobody's doing much about the meddling?

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. So I think first it's just knowledge or understanding of any policy. There hasn't been a lot of substantive policy coming out of the agencies, for example, what eventually will be our Syria policy, what will be our anti-ISIS policy. So some of that will be just your traditional trying to figure that out by sources and methods, trying to get people to talk to you through old traditional spying activities. I think the other is more serious for our democracy -- or any

democracy -- which is having failed -- both the Obama administration not being able to address it sufficiently and then with President Trump questioning the very existence of Russian meddling in the election or suggesting it might have been others also involved, would certainly let Russia to believe 2018 and 2020 are somewhat fair game.

That's, I think, the scarier part of this and that these spies become part of a network; we've got a lot of -- we've got every congressional district up for reelection in 2018. And so the spies are figuring out who might be vulnerable and what seats can be influenced.

HOLMES: Is there a sense do you think that the administration is taking the threat seriously?

As you point out, given the reluctance to lay election meddling at the feet of the Russians, despite what the international community says, do you think it's being taken seriously enough?

KAYYEM: No, and I think it needs to be said loudly and clearly, which a lot of people are now, which is that the failure to say anything at this stage, to stop the Russians -- I mean, we've heard testimony from many within the Trump administration who have said the White House has never even asked for policies about how to stop the Russians.


KAYYEM: I feel confident now saying that whatever happened in the past, Trump is certainly not stopping or attempting to stop Russian influence at this stage because we have no policies to address it at this stage. We are still questioning its existence. No one in the field questions Russia's interference. No one in France does; no one in Britain does; no one in Germany does. People have seen what Russia is able to do. But we, the United States, are not doing anything proactively to stop them.

HOLMES: Well, that led me to my next question earlier, one of the concerns that's raised in the CNN reporting is the volume of Russians coming in, the number -- and they don't just walk across the border illegally, they're getting temporary visas from the State Department. They're being issued to these Russian travelers basically coming in undercover.

Why isn't that being stopped if part of the government knows that they're not up to regular business, that they're being a bit naughty?

Why are they getting in?

KAYYEM: All right. It's the $64,000 question and I think it's -- when you see facts like that and when you see that the administration is not taking on the Russians, when you see the president unable to even say without caveat that Russia is responsible for disrupting or influencing the democratic process, I think it's fair now to wonder if there's any strategy or if this administration cannot be somewhat accused of at least attempting or at least not attempting to stop the Russians from doing it again. We all know that they will not stop until we put in mechanisms to stop

them, until we name and shame it, until we protect our own cyber networks, until we get smarter about fake news. None of that is happening.

And at the same time, as you said, these visas are happening and more Russians are coming into the country. Some of them are legitimate, although most of those people tend to come in on business visas. These visas tend to be -- are now being passed out much more forcefully. Part of that may have to do with the Russian strategy. We just don't know what it is at this stage.

HOLMES: Juliette Kayyem, always a pleasure, nice to see you. Thank you for this.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

HOLMES: Still to come here on the program. Don't call it a comeback or a Galaxy Note 7. Samsung is bringing back the ill-fated phone. But this time it has a few upgrades and a new name.


[02:30:00] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for being with us.

Let's update you on the it main stories.


HOLMES: Back to the G-20 summit, where President Trump and Putin are exchanging shots ahead of their first meeting. It's being billed as a geopolitical showdown. And the runup has certainly looked the part.

As for what will come of their conversation, Elise Labott has this report.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gearing up for his first high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump publicly called out Russia in his harshest terms to date.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran.

LABOTT: But he cast doubts on U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia was behind the meddling in the 2016 election, something White House officials say Trump is not expected to raise during the meeting.

TRUMP: I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. LABOTT: On the eve of the sit-down, Putin is showing he's not

planning to make things easy for Trump, praising the success of the G- 20 in a Germany newspaper, but slamming U.S. trade policies as, quote, "protectionism" and U.S. sanctions as "doomed to fail." He also voiced support for the Paris Climate Accord, which Trump pulled out of, calling it, quote, "a reliable international legal framework."

While Trump is publicly meeting with other world leaders, behind the scenes his top aides, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Fiona Hill, a Putin critic, now on the National Security Council, are all prepping him for tomorrow's sit- down with Putin.

It's the most anticipated of his nine meetings on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. The president is studying a large binder of material for all those meetings. But for Putin and Russia, aides say he's only been given a few pages of material, written in one-sentence talking points, to keep the president focused.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're at the very beginning. And I would say, at this point, it's difficult to say exactly what Russia's intentions are in this relationship. And I think that's the most important part of this meeting is to have a good exchange between President Trump and President Putin over what both they see as the nature of the relationship between our two countries.

LABOTT: And in a statement, Secretary Tillerson offering the only clues so far as to what the leaders will discuss on Syria, writing, quote, "The United States and Russia certainly have unresolved differences on a number of issues. But we have the potential to appropriately coordinate in Syria in order to produce stability and serve our mutual security interests."

(on camera): Those his advisors acknowledg3e they have no certainty over what Trump will bring up with President Putin, and they are concerned over the president's unpredictability when it comes to Friday's meeting.

Elise Labott, CNN, the State Department.


HOLMES: Meanwhile, Japan sending its own message, agreeing to a massive free trade deal with the E.U. It's been in the works actually for about four years now. But officials say President Trump's America First rhetoric and actions like pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership made them insist on closing the deal.


SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translation): Japan and the E.U. account for 30 percent of the GDP, 10 percent of the population, and 40 percent of trade of the world. So this is the birth of the world's largest free, advanced, industrialized, economic zone. JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT EUROPEAN UNION: The agreement puts

families and values at its core. Like our agreement with Canada, it will set the template for others, and follows the high standards of labor and environmental protection. It has a dedicated chapter on sustainable development. And it puts the focus on fair trade as much as it does free trade.


[02:35:01] HOLMES: Jean-Claude Juncker adding that he hoped the treaty would go into effect by early 2019.

Samsung's fire-prone Smartphone making a comeback. The company releasing a refurbished version of the Galaxy Note 7 in South Korea under the new name Galaxy Note FE. The original phone was taken off the market last year after customers reported their devices catching fire. This new, cheaper version will come with updated software, a lower-capacity battery, and the artificial intelligence assistant, Bixby.

"CNN Money" correspondent, Sherisse Pham joins me now from Hong Kong to talk about this.

So they fixed it or we hope so. But why release what, to many people, would seem like a troubled brand?

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: I think Samsung is trying to prove to everybody out there that they have identified the problem and moved on from it. This is either going to be great for them, shows that they moved on, or it's going to be a bit of a suicide mission. Samsung is saying they're not refurbished phones. They are re- engineered. Bottom line is they are made from unused and unopened Note 7s. They'll have open software, Bixby, the digital system you mentioned. And most importantly, they are going to have a new battery. And when Samsung did the autopsy on what went wrong with the Note 7 last year, they blamed poorly designed batteries.

For those who don't remember, the Note 7 was a flagship phone launched last year. And within weeks, videos started emerging of these phones catching fire while charging. Then airplanes started banning them because of the danger they posed. Samsung recalled them twice, didn't fix the problem, and eventually ended up killing the Note 7 altogether.

So what they're doing with this launch, where they're dropping 400,000 units for sale on in South Korea, and they're branding it as an eco- friendly initiative. Which it is. Michael, your phone, my phone, they're all made up of components environmentally unfriendly.

And they're also trying to establish their brand as a leader. Today also, and I don't this is coincidental, they released forecasted second-quarter earnings. And they're forecasting that they're going to have a record quarter for profit. So they're just trying to prove that we are back on top, everything is fine and our products are trustworthy -- Michael? HOLMES: And the Galaxy 8, I think, comes out soon, too.

Sherisse, good to see you. Thanks for that.

PHAM: Thank you.

HOLMES: Sherisse Pham, in Hong Kong.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, will a grainy black-and-white photo help solve one of history's greatest mysteries? One more theory about Amelia Earhart takes flight.


[02:40:04] HOLMES: China showing off its naval might as it gave a traditional watery welcome to its only aircraft carrier. It stormed into the waters on Friday. It's one of China's largest symbolic displays of military force. Days ago, Chinese state media released video of the ship conducting exercises. The region is rife with territorial disputes involving Beijing and its neighbors. A second Chinese carrier is still under construction.

After 80 years of speculation, the disappearance of the aviator, Amelia Earhart, is rich with conspiracy theories. Here's another one for you.

Martin Savidge explains how a long-lost photo is stirring up more suspicions about her ill-fated flight around the world.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the image that has brought Amelia Earhart back to life.

(on camera): Amelia Earhart?


SAVIDGE: The makers of a new History Channel documentary say the tall man on the right is Fred Noonan, Earhart's navigator. And in the center, sitting on the doc, none other than Earhart herself. Blurry, in the background, allegedly, Earhart's plane.

Could this single snapshot solve an 80-yeawr-old mystery?

(on camera): In the 1930s, Amelia Earhart was a superstar. She was an aviation pioneer recognized around the world, a role model, who disappeared without a trace attempting the greatest triumph of her life.

(voice-over): To become the first woman to circle the globe. She and Noonan were flying by way of the equator. And they'd made it three- fourths of the way when they disappeared July 2, 1937, over the Pacific.

Despite the largest search effort in U.S. history at the time, nothing was found.

DOROTHY COCHRANE, SMITHSONIAN AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM: We believe that she ditched into the Pacific Ocean.

SAVIDGE: This new photo was found in the National Archives and is said to be of an atoll in the Marshal Islands, but there's no date. To some, it supports the controversial theory that Earhart and Noonan crashed and were taken prisoner by the Japanese. It was, after all, just before World War II. And that the pair were executed or died in prison.

Dorothy Cochrane, at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, is skeptical.

COCHRANE: We have no evidence of that. The Japanese government has said that it's untrue.

SAVIDGE (on camera): What do you think of this new photo that's been brought to life?

GILLESPIE: Not much. I'm surprised it's gotten this much attention that it has.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Rick Gillespie and his aviation group have been looking for Earhart since the 1980s. And they've made more than a dozen trips to the region. He believes she died as a castaway, not as a prisoner.

GILLESPIE: If this is a picture of Amelia Earhart in Japanese custody, where are the Japanese? There are no soldiers there. There's nobody in uniform. There's nobody with a weapon. There's nobody guarding anybody.

SAVIDGE: Still, both understand the buzz.

COCHRANE: It's fascinating when one of the most-famous people in the world simply disappears.

SAVIDGE: Though it might not solve aviation's greatest mystery, the photo does prove something -- 80 years later, Amelia Earhart, the pilot, the pioneer, the role model, is also still a superstar.

Martin Savidge, CNN.


HOLMES: And thanks for watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm Michael Holmes.

"World Sport" is up next.

You're watching CNN.




[03:00:08] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: High stakes in Hamburg. The American and Russia presidents set to meet amid so many thorny issues.