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Malaysia PM: Obama’s cancelled Asia trip a “missed opportunity”

October 31st, 2013
04:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever and Claire Calzonetti, CNN

The cancellation of U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Southeast Asia earlier this month because of the government shutdown was a “missed opportunity,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“It was a missed opportunity for Obama to assert his leadership, particularly in the context of his policy pivot towards Asia,” Najib told Amanpour in London. “I know he regrets it.”

“When he called me he said, ‘By hook or by crook, I will visit Malaysia next year,’” the prime minister said. “So we’re looking forward to receiving him.”

Najib leads a nation of nearly 30 million – a diverse, majority-Muslim country that wants to be viewed as a modern Islamic democracy.

It is an appealing destination for tourists and investors alike – though the global recession did take its toll, and with tension between various ethnic groups and allegations of election fraud, it is not without controversy.

“My priority is to ensure peace and harmony in Malaysia. That is uppermost in my mind,” Najib said.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

German FM Westerwelle: U.S. “cannot fight terrorism” by taping Merkel’s phone

October 31st, 2013
03:37 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The U.S. “cannot fight terrorism” by listening to German Chancellor Angel Merkel’s personal cell phone, the foreign minister of that country, Guido Westerwelle, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“I understand that it is necessary to fight against terrorism,” he said, “but you cannot fight terrorism by taping the Chancellor’s cell phone.”

When asked if Westerwelle believed that his own phone was being tapped, the foreign minister demurred.

“I cannot exclude it,” he said.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Germany • Latest Episode

In Yorkshire, the moor the merrier

October 31st, 2013
08:19 AM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

With Halloween upon us, imagine a world where the landscape of nightmares is now one of the world's top tourist destinations.

The lonely moors and fog-swept dales of Yorkshire in the north of England have long been a source of gloomy inspiration.

Bram Stoker was drawn to the ruins of Whitby Abbey and made it the setting for his horror classic, Dracula.

And Sherlock Holmes famously roamed those same moors in pursuit of the dreaded hound of the Baskervilles.

Not to mention Heathcliff and Jane Eyre, who wandered through the imagination of the Brontë sisters.

But Yorkshire is more than gloom; more even than a puffy pudding that goes with roast beef at Sunday lunch; more than the name of a cute little terrier that you can fit in a purse.

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The man at the forefront of the Special Relationship

The man at the forefront of the Special Relationship
October 30th, 2013
04:13 PM ET
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Part 1: The U.S. ambassador in London

Part 1 of CNN's Christiane Amanpour conversation with U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Matthew Barzun.

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Part 2: The U.S. ambassador in London

Part 2 of CNN's Christiane Amanpour conversation with U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Matthew Barzun.

By Mick Krever, CNN

It’s quite a time to become an American ambassador in Europe.

When Matthew Barzun took up his post as the American Ambassador to the UK, he could hardly have known how quickly he would be thrown in the arena.

Six days into his job, as the British parliament rejected a military intervention in Syria, The Sun newspaper issued a front-page death notice for the so-called Special Relationship between the UK and U.S..

“I got some emails from friends back home, saying, ‘Well done! Six short days and it's over,’” Ambassador Barzun told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday. “Of course, it's not over; it's as strong and healthy as ever.”

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Greenwald: NSA chief did not offer ‘any evidence’ to Congress

October 30th, 2013
03:38 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Glenn Greenwald on Wednesday said that the head of the U.S. National Security Agency, General Keith Alexander, did not offer “any evidence” when he told Congress on Tuesday that the NSA did not collect data on millions of citizens in Europe.

“Notice what he didn’t offer, which is any evidence for the truth of what he’s is saying,” Greenwald said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Greenwald is the activist and journalist who broke the story of NSA snooping and has a trove a leaked documents from former intelligence staffer Edward Snowden.

“This, remember, is an agency that is extremely beleaguered, in the middle of a very intense scandal both at home and abroad,” he said. “It is an agency whose top officials have a record of lying to the Congress and to the American people through the media, including General Alexander.”

On Tuesday, General Alexander went before Congress and batted down media reports that the NSA had collected data on tens of millions of phone calls in a single month in France and Spain.

“The assertions,” General Alexander said, “are completely false… But both they and the person who stole the classified data did not understand what they were looking at.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Imagination under threat

October 30th, 2013
10:23 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Neil Gaiman is many things: A writer, a screenwriter, a storyteller. But before all that, he is first and foremost and defender of imagination.

And imagination, he says, is under threat.

“The imagination – it's a muscle,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. “It's a really important thing. If you want to build the future, if you want to create a literate generation, if you want to create a generation that is not criminal.”

Gaiman says that libraries – those endangered stockpiles of, yes, physical books – are a critical wellspring for imagination.

“I was a booky kid,” he said. “I will never forget the joy of getting my parents to drop me off at the local library on their way to work, and just going in and reading my way through the children's library, going and exploring in the card catalog back when they had card catalogs.”

“Pulling books off the shelf and then nervously edging out into the adult world” – and “discovering the joy” of the inter-library loan system!

It was – and is – “absolute magic.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Will NSA revelations chill intelligence gathering?

October 29th, 2013
04:49 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Revelations over American spying methods may have a chilling effect on the West’s ability to gather intelligence from terrorists Richard Barrett, the former director of global counter terrorism for British intelligence, suggested in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

On the one hand he said, terrorists – like ordinary people who send emails – know that their exchanges could probably be monitored but continue nonetheless to communicate.

“Obviously they’re much more careful than the average person,” he said. “But they will use communication methods, they’ll get careless occasionally – they’ll make slip-ups, they’ll reveal telephone numbers and things like that.”

It is something that Glenn Greenwald, the columnist who broke the NSA spying story, suggested to Amanpour on Monday.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

NSA spying has nothing to do with terrorism, Greenwald tells Amanpour

October 28th, 2013
05:04 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Spying by America’s National Security Agency does not have “anything to do with terrorism,” Glenn Greenwald, the activist journalist who broke the story, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“Is Angela Merkel a terrorist? Are sixty or seventy million Spanish or French citizens terrorists? Are there terrorists at Petrobras?” he asked rhetorically. “This is clearly about political power and economic espionage, and the claim that this is all about terrorism is seen around the world as what it is, which is pure deceit.”

The latest revelations of American spying involve the alleged taping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal mobile phone and that the U.S. gathered data about 60 million Spanish phone calls in a single month, which comes after similar reports from France.

Greenwald, formerly of The Guardian, has been systematically publishing reports of secret American intelligence gathering since he was given a treasure trove of leaks by former intelligence officer Edward Snowden.

“It is not true that every country intercepts the personal communications of their democratically elected allies,” Greenwald told Amanpour, referring to the oft-repeated criticism put forward by true believers that “everyone does it.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Journalism • Latest Episode

Remembering Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland’s moral compass

October 28th, 2013
04:57 PM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

Imagine a world where a shy, devout intellectual took on an all-seeing, all-powerful leader - and helped create Eastern Europe’s first modern democracy.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki was a journalist and activist when his native Poland was in the iron grip of soviet communism.

When Polish workers struck at the Gdansk shipyard in 1980 launching the solidarity movement, Mazowiecki joined the protests.

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Veteran editor Harold Evans calls for British First Amendment protecting press

October 28th, 2013
03:52 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The United Kingdom needs its own version of the First Amendment protecting press freedom, former editor of The Times and The Sunday Times Harold Evans told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Evans spoke with Amanpour as one of the great journalistic trials of our time got underway in London: that of two former newspaper editors from the Rupert Murdoch empire, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

They face charges that include conspiring to hack mobile phones at the now-defunct tabloid newspaper The News of the World.

Among the victims of phone hacking by newspapers was Milly Dowler, a schoolgirl who was later found murdered.

The scandal sparked the creation of the Leveson Inquiry, which after hearing from 180 witnesses recommended a number of reforms to the British press. Ministers and journalists are still at odds over underpinning regulation with legislation.

“I’ve always thought the First Amendment was a pretty good idea, actually,” Evans told Amanpour. “And what Leveson proposed in effect was to create a kind of British First Amendment.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Journalism • Latest Episode • United Kingdom
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