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Third and Final Day of G7; Biden to Meet with Putin; U.K. Prime Minister Weighs in on U.K.'s Handling of Pandemic; Vote Could Oust Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu; Danish Star Christian Eriksen "Fine" after Collapse on Pitch; Crew, Passengers Subdue Unruly Off-Duty Flight Attendant; Uyghurs Deported from the Middle East. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 13, 2021 - 02:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes, appreciate your company.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, relief among world leaders as President Biden brings a message of unity to the G7. We are live in Cornwall with the latest.



HOLMES (voice-over): Demonstrations and also dancing in the streets of Jerusalem, in the eve of the country's crucial grow vote in parliament that could end the reign of Israel's longest serving prime minister.


HOLMES (voice-over): And, a terrifying moment, during a European football match. A player collapses and needs to be resuscitated.


HOLMES: In the Group of Seven issues, the final communique on Sunday, there will be great interest in what it says but what it does not as well. The third and final day of meetings, set to get underway in a couple of hours from now, with climate change on the agenda.

But the summit in Cornwall, England, already revealing some divisions, especially over how to counter China's rising influence. U.S. President, Joe Biden, wants the G7 to take a more forceful stand on human rights and trade practices. Some European countries, resisting the hard line.

For President Biden, the G7 summit is a friendly warm-up for the coming week. He will spend Monday and Tuesday, in Brussels for the NATO and European Union summits. And, then going to Geneva on Wednesday to meet with Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader says, a summit with Mr. Biden is needed because

relations have deteriorated, to their lowest point in years. But he doesn't appear to hold Mr. Biden in particularly high regard, unlike his opinion of the previous U.S. president. Here is what Mr. Putin told NBC.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Even now, I believe that former U.S. president, Mr. Trump, is an extraordinary individual, talented individual. Otherwise he would not have become U.S. president.

He's a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And he did not come from the U.S. establishment. He had not been part of big-time politics before. Some like it, some don't like it, but that is a fact.

President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He's spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics. Just think of the number of years he spent in the Senate. A different kind of person.

It is my great hope that, yes, there is some advantages, some disadvantages. But there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. President.


HOLMES: The G7 leaders wrapping up the second day with the Royal Air Force Red Arrows putting on an impressive show high above the Cornish coast. The White House says President Biden had private chats with almost everyone at the summit, in addition to some formal one-on-one meetings. It is that personal diplomacy that may leave the most lasting impression when the summit is over. CNN's Arlette Saenz has our report from Cornwall.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden came to the G7 summit, with the goal of shoring up relationships with the United States allies. So far, world leaders are breathing a sigh of relief, after four years of tension, with the previous administration under former president Trump.

Now President Biden had one-on-one meetings with various leaders over the course of Saturday in what one senior official described as a diplomatic speed dating. So far, the leaders welcomed the president with open arms. Take a listen to a meeting the president had with French president Macron, earlier on Saturday.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: And I think it's great to have a U.S. President part of us and very willing to cooperate.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States, I've said before, we are back. The U.S. is back and we feel very, very strongly about the cohesion of NATO and, I, for one, think that the European Union is an incredibly strong and vibrant entity.


SAENZ: President Biden has another day of meetings at the G7 summit on Sunday and then ends his day by traveling to Windsor Castle, where he and the first lady will meet one-on-one with Queen Elizabeth.

Biden will be the 12th president that she has met while she has been queen. The president will head to Brussels where he will participate in a NATO summit, talking about security issues and then culminates his week with the face to face meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The two men will have some working sessions together.


SAENZ (voice-over): But they will not be holding a joint press conference, a change from the way president Trump approached Putin when he was in office.

The Biden administration said not to expect any tangible outcomes or changes from this exact meaning but ultimately they're hoping to establish a more stable and predictable relationship with Russia -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Falmouth, England.


HOLMES: and CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joining us from the summit site.

Good to see you Nic. Getting down to the nuts and bolts, China, front and center and how to contain geopolitically.

But is there even agreement on how to do that?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Doesn't appear to be so. White House officials, speaking to reporters, briefing them on the state of play with China discussions at the G7, said it wasn't clear how much China was going to be mentioned in the final communique or if at all.

It is hard to imagine because it's such a central issue to President Biden that it wouldn't be mentioned. But the White House official was saying there has been some movement toward -- they've seen this from some of the G7 leaders -- some movement toward understanding and agreement on speaking up about China's market practices, when it breaches common international trade practices.

Also speaking out about China's human rights abuses. But when the official was asked, what is it that is agreed that the G7 countries will do if China would break with standard international trade practices, even that wasn't clear. That doesn't mean there won't be language about in this vital

communique. What it perhaps mean is that the nature of the language is still being worked on. It does tell you the level of disagreement and we know at one point, when China was being discussed, the differences were so great, the internet to the facility was turned off.

Germany and Italy, opposing the United States, Canada, the U.K. and France on whether or not to punish China over its trade practices.

HOLMES: A complicated field. Looking ahead, everyone is talking about Biden-Putin.

What would be the Joe Biden priority for that meeting, the top of his to do or to deal with list?

ROBERTSON: Through the coming days, particularly when he is at NATO, he would look behind him, at all his allies lining up on Russia.

What does that mean?

What does that look like?

He will certainly get strong support at NATO from the Baltic states. They're the ones that feel most under threat, who are closest to Ukraine and Russia's buildup of troops at the border with the Ukraine.

Part of what Biden wants out of the meeting is almost what he gets going in, which is unity and a strong united voice to present. What he wants out of it, I believe, is what we've heard from the White House, which is a more stable, more predictable relationship with Russia, one where Russia doesn't, essentially, challenge the United States' democracy and national security by meddling in elections, by hosting ransomware attackers.

If President Biden comes out of this meeting with President Putin three weeks later, there's a massive ransomware attack in the United States, believed to be perpetrated from within Russia, that won't sit well for Biden. That will look like a failure. So his deliverable is something that will be measured further down the line.

HOLMES: Good point. Good to see you, Nic Robertson, thank you so much at the summit site.

The U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, speaking with CNN's Clarissa Ward at the G7 summit. She asking him about the status of his relationship, with the U.S. President. As she noted, there were a few bumps along the way.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He also famously referred to you as a physical and emotional clone of president Trump. I just wonder how you responded to that and whether the relationship is in a better place?

(CROSSTALK) JOHNSON: The relationship is an extremely good order and I think that the premise of the U.K. and the -- has a job to do to get on with whomever is the President of the United States. That's what we do.


JOHNSON: But in this particular case, I want you to know that the relationship is extremely good.


HOLMES: Mr. Johnson also lashed out at the Russian president, Putin, saying he had done, quote, "unconscionable things." Hear more of his remarks, later this hour, on CNN.

Now this could be Benjamin Netanyahu's final hours as Israeli prime minister. That's if a new and diverse coalition government gets the final go-ahead from a confidence vote in Israel's parliament, the Knesset. It's cause for celebration for many.



HOLMES (voice-over): Dance parties, held in the streets of Jerusalem on the eve of that vote, that could end Netanyahu's 12-year run at the premiership. The proposed new government set to have the right wing leader, Naftali Bennett, as its prime minister initially.

But the coalition's razor thin majority leaves no room for error. After four national elections in two years and repeated failed attempts by Mr. Netanyahu to form a lasting government.


HOLMES: Elliott Gotkine joins me now from Jerusalem.

I think, as we've discussed over recent weeks, it's down to the last second but don't rule out Netanyahu's ability to maneuver.

But is the sense now this will happened, it's the end?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think so, Michael. Benjamin Netanyahu, has many nicknames, among them, the magician, for his Houdini like ability to get out of sticky situations.

But I think even the staunchest Netanyahu supporters now accept there are no rabbits left in the hat. It's still possible that there a last- minute surprise. But now it's expected this vote will happen and this government, this new government, will be sworn in and Netanyahu will go into the opposition.

In terms of the actual process, at 4 pm local time, 9 am Eastern time, we will hear from Naftali Bennett, expected to be the prime minister in the first half of this new government, followed by Yair Lapid, succeeding as his partner. Then we hear from the biggest part of this party, that isn't going to

be part of the government, Likud Party. Its leader is Netanyahu. You can bet he will use all of the time allowed to repeats his claims that it's fraudulent, not that votes were stolen or miscounted but that Naftali Bennett's votes were kind of gained under false pretenses.

Never mind that Netanyahu was happy to go in the government with the Blue and White Party, despite Gantz's promise not to serve with Netanyahu.

Moving on, there will be speeches from those three men. We then hear from other parties in parliament. There will be a vote for a new speaker of the Knesset, expected to be from the Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid's party.

And then the main event happens, the vote of confidence in this new government. It can be voted electronically; it can be done by voice, which we believe is the more likely of the two cases. The speaker will call on every lawmaker in the Knesset, in alphabetical order, asking if they support the government, the reply to which would be with the government or if they are against it.

Of course, there could be some abstentions. There are 120 seats in the Knesset so ordinarily, you would expect a majority of 61 to be required. But if there are abstentions, they just need a majority. If that gets through, the new government will be sworn in and Netanyahu will go back to being plain old Benjamin Netanyahu.

GOLD: What role will he play then in opposition?

Elliott Gotkine, in Jerusalem, good to see you, thank you.


HOLMES: Let's talk more about all of this with Peter Beinart. He's a CNN political analyst. Also author of "The Beinart Notebook" on Do check it out.

Good to see you, Peter. This could be a momentous event in terms of being the end of the Netanyahu period.

I'm curious, what do you think will be the level of real change?

What does it mean politically in the real world?

I know that you wrote that this change of government is a bit like if Donald Trump was ousted by Ted Cruz and Susan Collins.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, so that matters because Benjamin Netanyahu, like Donald Trump, was doing damage to Israel's judiciary system. He was delegitimizing it in order to protect his own corruption. So it's important for Israel that they have a government that's no longer going to do that.

But in order to get him out, they basically had to throw in the entire kitchen sink into this government, so that it's really ideologically incoherent. It stands from the far Israeli right, to the left of the Israeli -- the Jewish political system and also one Palestinian Israeli party.


BEINART: So it's very hard to believe that this new government can do that much that will be significant. And if there is to be another big crisis with the Palestinians, given the diversity of opinion on that question, I'm not sure this government will be able to survive very long.

HOLMES: What do you think Benjamin Netanyahu's tactics might be from the outside if in opposition?

BEINART: Interesting question. I think one choice would be to do what Donald Trump did, which is basically try to maintain control of his party, delegitimize the government and wait to return.

Another would be for Netanyahu to try to become some sort of international statesman kind of figure. He obviously is an important figure in the English language world. I can imagine he might see his stage as larger than Israel now and think about a post-political career.

I hope that is the case, because I think him in active opposition would be dangerous.

HOLMES: Yes, and, of course, he's got his legal problems on top of that. As you said, we've discussed Naftali Bennett, he's further right than Netanyahu on most things. Netanyahu flaunts (ph) his own right wing credential. It's kind of a "I'm more Right than you" environment at the moment.

I wonder what you thought is the state of the Left in the Israel. They will be represented in the new government.

What is their influence on Israeli politics?

BEINART: It's very minimal. One of the things that's really important to understand about Right and Left in Israel is that Israel controls millions of Palestinians, who don't have the right to vote at all. So they are under Israeli control but they're excluded from the Israeli political system.

And even the 20 percent of Israel citizens who are Palestinians who can vote, Arab Israelis, who can vote, have not traditionally been considered legitimate governing partners in an Israeli government. There's one Palestinian Arab party that is in the government now.

But generally they have been somewhat marginalized politically. So when given -- they are kind of the -- kind of second-class citizens who would be the natural backbone of the Left, that helps to explain why the Israeli Left is so weak. The Jewish Left has gotten weaker and weaker because of demographic change and other reasons.

So the Left of Israel is very weak. That's why this new government is not really talking for instance the end of -- about creating a Palestinian state at all.

HOLMES: In your Substack, I was reading it and, you ask whether this change will matter and you answered by writing, quote, "It depends. If you are Jewish, yes; if you're Palestinian, no."

That speaks to your earlier point. There are Arab members of this new government when it comes into play.

But what effective role will they be able to play in terms of affecting any type of change for Palestinians?

BEINART: The best case scenario is that this Palestinian Arab party might be able to use its influence to make some positive economic benefit for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, inside the green line.

But there's really no prospect that they could use their influence to end the blockade of Gaza, end settlement growth, get the Israeli government to seriously support the idea of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As you said Naftali Bennett, who will be the prime minister to start, is not only opposed to the Palestinian state but has called for annexing the West Bank.

So on that front, for most Palestinians who live under Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza, this government sadly is not going to make much of a difference.

HOLMES: Always great to get your analysis, my friend. Thank you so much, Peter Beinart.

BEINART: My pleasure, thank you.



HOLMES: Now to breaking news. We've been following over the last couple of hours out of China, state media reporting at least 11 people are dead after a gas explosion in Hubei province. This is on Sunday morning.

Officials say more 100 people have been rescued from the rubble; 37 serious injuries, cause unknown. Kristie Lu Stout joins us now from Hong Kong to tell us.

What do you know?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: A massive gas pipe explosion has ripped through a residential area in the central Chinese province of Hubei. It took place this morning, 6:30 am local time taking the lives of at least 11 people and severely injuring 37 others.

Local officials say many people are believed to be still trapped in the rubble. Rescue operations are currently underway. Officials dispatched 137 rescue personnel as well as six rescue or sniffer dogs on the scene.

Video of the immediate aftermath of this huge explosion has been circulating widely on Chinese social media. And it paints a truly devastating picture of what happened.

What was once a placid neighborhood, just waking up to a new warning this Sunday, instantly transformed into this unrecognizable and charred wasteland.


STOUT: We've been monitoring social media responses to this tragedy.

And one person writes this, quote, "I really can't imagine it. My home is only 100-200 meters away from the explosion. I can't imagine the place where I live, day and night, has become a ruin. The video and pictures are shocking."

And they are indeed shocking and, sadly, China is no stranger to deadly explosions like this. Earlier this year, in January, there was an explosion that took the life of one person in a factory in Hunan province in August of last year. There was an explosion that took the lives of six people at a chemical factory in Hubei province.

Back in 2015, as you remember, China vowed then to improve safety standards after a series of chemical explosions in the port city of Tianjin took the lives of over 100, over 800 people were injured as a result of that.

Six years on, we have this tragedy taking place today in a residential neighborhood in Hubei province. The exact cause of this gas pipe explosion is still under investigation -- Michael.

HOLMES: I know you will keep us updated on that. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Appreciate it. Thanks.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, moments of real fear on the football pitch Saturday after Danish star Christian Eriksen collapsed. We will hear how he is doing.

Plus, the Copa America football championship hours away from kickoff in Brazil. Teams from at least two countries are already reporting new coronavirus cases. We will have that and more when we come back.





HOLMES (voice-over): Emotional football fans in Copenhagen chanting their support for the Danish midfielder, Christian Eriksen, who collapsed suddenly on the pitch on Saturday during the Euro 2020 match between Denmark and Finland.

He's doing fine now, apparently, according to the Danish Football Association. But the scenes were terrifying. You can see anguish in his teammates' faces and in the crowds as well.




HOLMES: We are getting reports that Brazil's struggle against the coronavirus is already impacting teams playing in the Copa America football tournament. Brazil hosting that regional competition. Now two national teams, Venezuela and Bolivia, say several players and staff members have tested positive since arriving.

Brazil reporting nearly 80,000 new coronavirus cases just a day ahead of the tournament beginning. Saturday's numbers actually a slight improvement following three straight days of more than 85,000 new cases. Sadly, Brazil has seen more than 2,000 deaths for four days running.

Still to come here on the program, a big weekend for Queen Elizabeth, a birthday celebration, tea with Joe Biden. He's the 12th U.S. President she's met. The monarch's special relationship with American leaders. And our Clarissa Ward is in the U.K., putting the British prime minister on the spot.


WARD: He also famously referred to you as a physical and emotional clone of president Trump. I just wonder how you responded to that.

HOLMES (voice-over): His answer?

When we come back.






HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers, all around the world, appreciate your company, I'm Michael Holmes, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The White House says the U.S. President, Joe Biden, has now spoken one-on-one with about every leader at the G7 summit with Cornwall, England. The group representing the world's most powerful democracies, set to hold its final in-person meetings, in the coming hours. One area of tension, on how to best counter China's growing influence.

Mr. Biden, pushing for a hardline approach. Before leaving the U.K., President Biden and the first lady, traveling to Windsor Castle for a private meeting with Queen Elizabeth.

The president the travels to Brussels for the NATO summit and then on to Geneva, to meet with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Now as we mentioned earlier, U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, speaking with Clarissa Ward on the sidelines of the G7. He dropped a few bombshells during their interview, have a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: It's absolutely true that, with President Biden, with Joe Biden, you feel that he wants to -- he is a great believer in the transatlantic alliance, in the special relationship, whatever you want to call it with the United Kingdom. He shares our priorities on tackling climate change.


WARD: And president Trump did not, would you say?

JOHNSON: -- on that tomorrow. He shares our objectives on improving human education around the world.

WARD: He also famously referred to you as a physical and emotional clone of president Trump. I just wonder how you responded to that and whether the relationship is in a better place?


JOHNSON: The relationship is an extremely good order and I think that the premise of the U.K. and the -- has a job to do to get on with whomever is the President of the United States. That's what we do. But in this particular case, I want you to know that the relationship is extremely good.


WARD: And was it fair to call you a clone?

JOHNSON: Look, I'm not going to -- people say all sorts of things about me. I think if I spent my time disputing this or that, we would not get a lot done. We're getting a huge lot done --


JOHNSON: -- here at the G7. It's going well. It's beautiful weather, it's fantastic to see President Biden.


WARD: So can we just talk about next week quickly?

JOHNSON: Yes. WARD: President Putin.


WARD: President Biden will be meeting with President Putin.


WARD: President Biden famously said that he thought President Putin is a killer.

Do you believe President Putin is a killer?

JOHNSON: I certainly think that president Putin has done things that are unconscionable in the -- fairly certain that he authorized the poisonings in Salisbury that led to the death of an innocent member of the British public, the attempted poisoning of the Skripals.

You have seen what is happening to his leading opponent, Alexei Navalny, who is in prison on trumped up charges, and facing -- and is effectively being tortured.

And so I think that what Joe Biden will be doing when he goes to see Putin will be giving some pretty tough messages. And that's something that I (INAUDIBLE) approve of and I did the same last time I saw Mr. Putin myself.

I said look, you know, there is not going to be a normalization of relations between your country, Russia, and the U.K., until Russia changes its behavior. That is just the sad fact of it.


WARD: So how would you judge success?

JOHNSON: -- I think that President Biden will be saying the same.

WARD: How would you judge it as a successful summit, then?

What is the metric for success with this summit?

JOHNSON: If I could just comment about this summit, which is the one we are actually at, I think this has already been a very important moment.


JOHNSON: Because the world here (ph) to come together for the first time in well over a year to work on how to beat the pandemic --

WARD: Do you accept your government --

JOHNSON: -- treaty --

WARD: -- mishandled the pandemic in the early days?

Would you say that's a fair categorization or -- ?

JOHNSON: I think, you know, it was a -- it was an unprecedented event in our lifetimes and, of course, we will look back on everything that happened, what went wrong and learn from it.

But at the moment, we are focusing on vaccine rollout, which is amongst the fastest in the world and which is giving a great deal of immunity to our people and actually has enabled this summit to go ahead.


HOLMES: Britain's Queen Elizabeth, making an appearance at the G7 summit on Friday. The start of a busy weekend for Her Majesty. She also celebrated her official 95th birthday. As you just heard, will take tea, in a few hours, with U.S. President Joe Biden. The monarch has met every sitting U.S. President, except for one, during her nearly seven decade reign. CNN's Max Foster, taking a look now at her meetings with American leaders.



MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: The special relationship -- or a dozen special relationships.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, to Her Majesty the Queen.

FOSTER (voice-over): Joe Biden is the 12th U.S. President to meet Queen Elizabeth II during her reign. The queen will have met every sitting president during her 69-year reign, except Lyndon B. Johnson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were welcomed at the White House by the first lady at the beginning of a memorable visit to the nation.

FOSTER (voice-over): Starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1957 and, most recently, Donald Trump, Britain's monarch has seen her share of administrative change. And the conversations invariably remain private.

PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX: People really do respect the fact that this is a genuinely private, off the record conversation. So they really can talk about things and get to the heart of things in a very genuine fashion because they know it's not going to come out.

FOSTER: Does she ever let slip to you in any way?


PRINCE EDWARD: Of course not. Of course not.

FOSTER (voice-over): Well-known for their shared love of horses, Elizabeth took president Ronald Reagan horseback riding in Windsor in 1982.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was not expected to happen.

FOSTER (voice-over): His successor, President George H. W. Bush, brought the queen to her first baseball game, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, during a state visit, in 1991. Both, Reagan and Bush were later given honorary knighthoods, the U.K.'s highest distinction.

Opportunities to meet the 95-year-old monarch are dwindling. The queen no longer travels abroad. Leaders are expected to come to her. But when they do, the royal family rolls out the red carpet in a regal display of British soft power.

President George W. Bush was the first U.S. President to pay an official state visit in 2003. Bush was also the last to host the queen at the White House in 2007. Pomp and pageantry do, at times, provide awkward moments however, evident when president Trump visited in 2018.

He also revealed the topic of their conversation, Brexit, which raised eyebrows, too.

His predecessor, President Barack Obama, also committed a faux paw by speaking over the national anthem.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... the vitality of the special relationship between our peoples.

FOSTER (voice-over): Now is the turn of Obama's V.P. and current commander in chief to visit Windsor Castle. President Biden will be welcomed by a guard of honor before being invited in for tea.

BONNIE GREER, AMERICAN-BRITISH PLAYWRIGHT AND AUTHOR: The future of the special relationship depends, ultimately, on the American people and the British people, what we understand about each other. And Joe Biden is of a generation where that special relationship means something. The queen is, certainly.

ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF ENGLAND: To the continued friendship between our two nations and to the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States.

FOSTER (voice-over): Max Foster, CNN, Foster, England.


HOLMES: Coming up after the break, an exclusive report, we are tracking, what some say, is a forced deportation of Uyghur Muslims from three major Arab countries, back to China. We have that and more, after the break.






HOLMES (voice-over): What you see there is an unruly passenger, to say the least. On a Friday flight from L.A. to Atlanta, he was threatening to, quote, "take the plane down." Witnesses say that the captain called on all able-bodied men to help cope with the emergency.

Passengers and crew subdued the man, who police, actually say, was an off-duty flight attendant.

BENJAMIN CURLEE, WITNESS: My first interaction was when the intercom came on. Apparently, the perpetrator was on the intercom and was telling passengers to return to their seats because oxygen masks were going to be required of them. And that created quite a stir amongst us. Everyone around us became very tense.

HOLMES (voice-over): The flight was diverted to Oklahoma City, where it landed safely and the suspect was taken into custody. Police say he was taken to a hospital and no charges have been filed.


HOLMES: In China's Xinjiang region, up to two million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in vast government camps and continue to face what the U.S. has called a genocide. Beijing denies those allegations, dismisses them as propaganda and says the camps are merely vocational training centers for combating religious extremism.

Some Uyghurs have managed to leave China but say that even abroad, they aren't safe. A new Human Rights Watch report says that China has tracked down hundreds of Uyghurs across the globe, forcing them to return and face persecution. A CNN investigation dives into the deportations from the Middle East, a stinging betrayal by, predominantly, Muslim countries.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, joining us now, from Istanbul.

Bring us up to date. The story has a remarkable impact, even among U.S. senators. Tell us what has happened since the report.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, a few months ago, to give you some background, our team came across the case of a Uyghur Muslim, who was detained in Saudi Arabia, facing deportation.

As we started to look into this issue, we found more and more cases. These are not just heartbreaking stories; these are terrifying stories of Muslim Uyghurs, who couldn't find safety in Muslim countries, not even sanctuary in the holiest of Muslim holy sites.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): This quiet Uyghur protest outside Istanbul's infamous Saudi consulate is a race against time.

Nuriman's father's fate hangs in the balance.

"If he's sent back to China, he'll be imprisoned. And there's danger of death," she tells us.

Nuriman Veli says she and her sister lost contact with their mother in China's Xinjiang region four years ago.

"If, God forbid, we lose our father as well, it will destroy us," she says.

Her father, Hamdullah Abduweli, a Uyghur Muslim scholar, was nabbed by Saudi authorities in November while on a pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Nuriman pleads, "Send him back to Turkey, where he's a resident, not China."

For her father, there is still time.

For others, there is little hope.

KARADSHEH: Activists say at least five Uyghurs have already been deported from Saudi Arabia. We spoke to two of those families who confirmed these deportations. This is just one part of what appears to be a terrifying campaign by China.

Over the course of our investigation, we have also found cases of Uyghurs forcibly returned to China from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in violation of international law and where they may face what the U.S. has labeled a genocide.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt did not respond to our request for comment. China's a major trade partner to these Muslim majority countries, who have not only turned a blind eye to China's treatment of Uyghurs, their autocratic governments have also voiced support for what China insists is a counterterrorism campaign.

Maryam Muhammad has been keeping a dark secret from her boys, trying to shield them from the cruel reality of the world they were born into, a nightmare that followed them thousands of kilometers from their homeland in Xinjiang.

She tells them, Daddy is away working. The last time she heard from her husband, Muhtar Rozi, he was being detained in Egypt on July 16th, 2017.

MARYAM MUHAMMAD, MUHTAR ROZI'S WIFE: He said, you are -- you are my -- my precious. I love you so much. And from that day, I did not get any message about him.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Maryam was living her dream. She and Muhtar studied in Cairo's Al Azhar University, got married and started a family. But when China's long arm reached Egypt, they scrambled to get out.

Maryam says she flew to Turkey with the boys and, with reports of arrests at the airport, Muhtar tried to get the ferry out to Jordan but was stopped.

There was little Maryam could do to try and find her husband. She wrote letters to U.N. agencies and governments but she says no one responded.

Muhtar's detention was never acknowledged. Like others, he just vanished without a trace.

Egyptian authorities, believed to be acting at the behest of the Chinese government, rounded up dozens, possibly hundreds of Uyghurs, many of them male students at Al Azhar. More than 20 were forcibly returned to China, according to human rights groups. The Chinese crackdown on Uyghurs had expanded far beyond its borders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) 21 but it's not exact number. Maybe it will be more.

KARADSHEH: Abduweli Ayup is a Uyghur activist. He says he has documented at least 28 deportations by these Middle Eastern countries. But no one really knows how many Uyghurs may be behind bars in the region or how many have already been deported back to China.

Too often, family members fear that going public would only make things worse for their disappeared loved ones.

Amannisa Abdullah, He is my children's dad.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Amannisa Abdullah is tormented by devastating guilt.

Did she push too much?

Did she not do enough to try and save her husband?

She fears family in China will pay the price for her speaking out now. But she says silence is no longer an option.

ABDULLAH: In two years this kind of guilty feeling is always inside of me. And I am not able to sleep, not able to -- even like -- if I feel happy, I have no right to feeling happy. I have no right to smile. I'm living like this.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Her husband, Ahmad Talip, lived and worked in the UAE for 10 years. In February 2018, he was detained while picking up paperwork from a Dubai police station. It was two weeks from hell for a nine-month pregnant Amannisa and her son, chasing Ahmed as he was moved between police stations and jails.

ABDULLAH: I have fear, if I don't be hurry up, my husband will be deported. I'm really worried about him at that time. I feel extremely helpless and that there is no one can help me at that time.

KARADSHEH: So this is the document you got from court?


KARADSHEH (voice-over): She says no one would even tell her what Ahmad was accused of, only that he was wanted by China.

This document Amannisa obtained from Dubai's public prosecution confirms the Chinese extradition request. It also states the prosecution decided to close the case because Chinese authorities failed to provide the required documents. But Ahmad was transferred to Abu Dhabi.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): And a few days later, Amannisa was told he was sent back to China.

ABDULLAH: If my husband have any crime, he committed any crime, why they don't tell me? Why China don't tell me?

One of the most difficult question in my life is, where is my dad?

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Eight-year-old Musa is left with photos and patchy childhood memories.

KARADSHEH: This was in Dubai?

MUSA, AHMAD TALIP'S SON: Yes. We're making a castle. But I cannot make a castle without my daddy.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Musa says he's lucky his little sister, Amina, never met her father.

Like tens of thousands of Uyghurs, the family found sanctuary in Turkey. But as the government forges closer ties with China, Uyghurs feel their safe space is shrinking. With nowhere left to turn, Amannisa says she once asked for directions to the sea.

MUHAMMAD: I say, I want to take my child. I want to sit there. Actually, what I want to do is I want to go inside because I don't know how to swim.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Amannisa asks, is this world just not big enough for Uyghurs?


KARADSHEH: Michael, Human Rights Watch says, in many cases, it's impossible to find out what has happened to Uyghurs who were forcibly returned to China. We did reach out to the Chinese government. They did not respond to our request for comment on our reporting.

As you know, Beijing has repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses targeting its Uyghur minority and accusations of genocide. A few months ago the Chinese foreign minister called these accusations preposterous -- Michael. HOLMES: It just seems so bizarre.

Is there any explanation for why Muslim countries would allow this to happen to fellow Muslims?

KARADSHEH: Well, look, Michael, this is not just this feeling of betrayal that Uyghur Muslims are feeling. It just shatters this notion of Islamic solidarity.

These are countries, including the countries in our report. And other Muslim majority countries, back in 2019, signed a letter in support of China's policies in Xinjiang. When it comes to the countries in our report, these are major trade partners. There is a lot of economic ties with China.

But speaking to activists and Human Rights Watch, who've been following these cases for some time. They say it's not just about economic interest. These are unelected, autocratic governments, who don't really care that much about human rights at the end of the day.

But I can tell you, no matter what's the reason for this, Michael, the impact this has had across the Uyghur community living abroad is terrifying. It's really devastating. They have been left feeling nowhere is safe.

We heard this a few days ago in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing, where this was discussed, the issue of deportation that was triggered by our report. The people who are being targeted, according to Human Rights Watch, Michael, according to activists we've been speaking to, these are ordinary people.

These aren't high-profile activists or anything like that. These are business people, ordinary Uyghurs in different countries, being deported. And this is why Human Rights Watch suggested to U.S. senators that they should really, rather than having candid conversations with U.S. allies, they should look at providing them with a safe haven, asylum, where they will be able to appear in front of a competent court and apply for asylum. What Uyghurs really need is a safe place. Michael?

HOLMES: Remarkable reporting. Jomana, thank you for that.

We will be right back.





HOLMES: The G7 leaders will commit in the coming hours to increase their financial contributions toward protecting the environment. It's part of an overdue spending pledge of $100 billion a year to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions. Earlier, I spoke with professor Michael Mann, a distinguished

professor at Penn State University, author of the book, "The New Climate War." One of the questions I asked him is if the G7 countries have lived up to their lofty rhetoric with meaningful action.


DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: We have heard a lot of good words today and, in particular, some discussion about the importance of providing financing for developing nations so they can develop a green, clean energy infrastructure, so that they don't make the same mistakes that we, in the industrial world, made by depending on fossil fuels, the burning of fossil fuels, which has created the climate crisis that we are now dealing with.

And so there is this overall commitment that has been made by the G7 nations to providing financing. But the devil is in the details because, in order to help the developing world to leapfrog past the fossil fuel stage, we need to make it easy for them to do that.

We need to provide them the resources so that they can meet the needs of their people while not engaging in behavior that continues to damage our environment.


HOLMES: All right, thanks for spending part of your day with me. I am Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. Do stay with us. Robyn Curnow will be along with more special coverage.