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Saudi Arabia could aid talks with ISIS in hostage situations, says veteran negotiator

October 22nd, 2014
02:22 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Saudi Arabia could have a role in hostage negotiations with ISIS militants, former U.N. hostage negotiator Giandomenico Picco told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Picco conducted many high-profile negotiations in Lebanon that led to the release of several Western hostages in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He told Amanpour that if asked to engage in open talks with the terrorist group, he would have a “conversation… with somebody in Saudi Arabia”.

The veteran diplomat also stressed that it was equally important to open a channel of communication with “a military arm in ISIS which is actually led by the deputy of President Saddam.”

He said he would attempt to focus negotiating efforts on that wing of the group rather than on the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who “may have been able to catch the hostages, but may be unable to negotiate their release.”

Governments tend to ask desperate families to stay quiet and trust them to get their loved ones back, but John Foley, whose son U.S. journalist James Foley was brutally murdered by ISIS in August, told Amanpour that he and his wife Diane Foley regret having remained silent.

“In this country, we feel that citizen pressure may have pushed our government to become more aggressive at a much earlier point in time, which may or may not have helped Jim and the other American and British, I feel, heroes and the hostages.”

ISIS is believed to be holding several Western hostages and its latest beheading video threatened the life of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig.

“I think in the future we would look to - enable the press to be a more cohesive force in aiding families such as ours, to exert pressure on our government to use any and all means at their disposal to try to obtain the release of these young aid workers and journalists who are fighting to protect the freedom of speech as well as mitigate unspeakable pain and suffering in these war-torn areas,” John Foley said.

While some Western governments will often pay ransoms to bring hostages home, it is U.S. policy that the government does not engage in such deals with terrorists. Foley believes that an international dialogue must be developed.

“This is not a United States problem or a British problem. This is a world community problem. And I'm well aware of the risks taken by men and women in our armed forces to bring these people home. But in the end, I feel that the small amount, relative small amount of money involved in a ransom certainly is justifiable to bring these wonderful people home.”


Filed under:  Iraq • Journalism • Syria

Murdoch’s reign ‘like the power of a school bully’

August 8th, 2014
11:31 AM ET

By Mick Krever and Annabel Archer, CNN

It is the scandal that has shaken Britain to its core, embroiling the political elite, the police and the press.

Allegations that British journalists hacked into phones and computers, and were involved in bribery, forced media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to shut down the country’s best-selling newspaper and resulted in the conviction of Andy Coulson, a former newspaper editor and top aide to Prime Minister David Cameron.

“It begins with the crime in the newspapers,” Nick Davies, the reporter who uncovered the hacking scandal, told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Thursday.

“But when you look at the way the authorities reacted to that, you see first of all the press regulator, and then Scotland Yard, refusing to investigate properly, refusing to get anywhere near the bottom of the problem.”

Davies is the author of a new book, “Hack Attack: How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Journalism • Latest Episode

Brother of jailed journalist Peter Greste: ‘It's extremely difficult to understand’

June 24th, 2014
09:52 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Andrew Greste, whose brother Peter was convicted and sentenced to prison along with two other al Jazeera journalists in Egypt on Monday, said he was “gutted” and “devastated.”

“Obviously it was a result that we thought, I guess, was possible. But you just can't prepare yourself really.”

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed had been imprisoned in Cairo since December on charges that included conspiring with the Brotherhood, spreading false news and endangering national security.

Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison; Mohamed was sentenced to ten.

Their case has drawn worldwide condemnation from governments and journalists alike, who insist the three were simply doing their jobs, reporting the news.

“I definitely wasn't expecting such a harsh punishment,” Andrew Greste said. “You know, seven years – it's extremely difficult to understand.”

FULL POST

In Egypt, case of trial by error

April 10th, 2014
02:58 PM ET

Filed under:  Journalism • Latest Episode

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste forced to read food labels to avoid boredom in Egypt jail, parents say

April 9th, 2014
02:45 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Peter Greste, the Al Jazeera journalist who along with two colleagues has been jailed in Egypt since the end of December, suffered such boredom that reading food labels was his only refuge, Greste’s parents told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour.

“Up until a couple of weeks ago, they weren’t even allowed reading material,” Greste’s mother, Lois, said in an exclusive interview. “So to keep themselves occupied, they used anything – off labels, off plastic bottles, and off food containers.”

“They made a mural on the wall, which said ‘Freedom Now.’ Unfortunately, that had to be pulled down because the prison authorities considered that as a slogan.”

“But instead he’s got more creative, and out of foil made a sun with rays that go out to a meter wide. It’s arranged so that the sun hits the foil and lights up the whole of the room. So I think that’s wonderful.”

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Journalists' support 'keeps Greste going'

Journalist Peter Greste has been jailed in Egypt since December. His father says colleagues' support keeps his son going.

Monday marked 100 days since Greste and his colleagues were arrested in Cairo. They are charged with collaborating with a terrorist organization, which is the designation the government gives the Muslim Brotherhood.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Egypt • Journalism • Latest Episode

Al Jazeera correspondent speaks out on journalists’ trial

February 20th, 2014
03:29 PM ET

Members of the press gathered outside a heavily guarded Cairo courthouse Thursday as three al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt appeared in court for the first time since their arrest.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohammed were brought before a judge in a cage. While the court was in recess, they shouted messages to other journalists to pass on to their families.

The three men were detained more than 50 days ago.

The Egyptian government accuses them of joining or aiding a terrorist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, which they have categorized as such.

Journalists around the world have staged protests demanding their release.

All three have pled not guilty to the charges against them.

A number of other al Jazeera staff not present in the court today were also charged by the Egyptian authorities.

One of them is Sue Turton, a reporter for the network. Click above to watch Turton speak with CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour.


Filed under:  Journalism • Latest Episode • Ukraine

Photographer describes his 81 days of captivity in Syria

January 16th, 2014
10:20 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The first five weeks of photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie’s captivity among Syrian rebels were the most difficult.

“They would force me to wrestle with them, to show me how tough they were, and they snapped my ribs on the right so I couldn’t breathe for a while,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

It was “just amusement” to them, he said.

“I was handcuffed for about five weeks, to a bed mostly; and the first three weeks, I was blindfolded.”

At least 29 journalists were killed in Syria last year, and some 60 others abducted.

Alpeyrie was kidnapped by an armed rebel group at a checkpoint near Damascus last April. He would be held for 81 days.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Journalism • Latest Episode • Syria

Amanpour confronts Egyptian businessman over jailing of journalists

January 14th, 2014
03:29 PM ET
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Egypt businessman on the state of Egypt

Naguib Sawiris Egyptian businessman financially backed anti-Morsy protests

By Mick Krever, CNN

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday confronted Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris over the jailing of three al Jazeera journalists in that country.

Sawiris – one of Egypt’s wealthiest citizens, founder of the Free Egyptians Party and former chairman of the telecom giant Orascom – provided financial support for the opposition to former President Mohamed Morsy.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed from Al Jazeera English were arrested by Egyptian authorities on December 29 and have been held since.

Egyptian authorities say the journalists held illegal meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a terrorist group last month.

“Three of my colleagues are in jail for doing their job, as you know well,” Amanpour said.

Sawiris raised doubts about the journalists’ credentials to be in the country, and said that al Jazeera was “fabricating” stories.

“These are allegations that they’ve obviously denied, and we deny it on behalf of our colleagues as well,” Amanpour said.

Click above to see Amanpour’s full interview with Sawiris.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Journalism • 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.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Journalism • Latest Episode

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.”

FULL POST


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