September 17th, 2014
11:16 AM ET

Man kidnapped by ISIS with Steven Sotloff tells CNN U.S. government never interviewed him about abduction

In a report that first aired on Erin Burnett OutFront Tuesday, CNN's Karl Penhaul (@karlpenhaul) talks to Yosef Abobaker about the ISIS fighters who abducted him and American journalist Steven Sotloff in Syria in August 2013. Abobaker, who was working as Sotloff's fixer, was eventually released while Sotloff remained in captivity until his beheading  earlier this month.

When asked whether U.S. officials tried to interview him about their abduction, Abobaker says nobody reached out to him to discuss his experience.

"Nobody tried to contact me and I tried to help. Nobody come to me and ask me any questions from the (U.S.) government...Nobody contact me or ask me about their conditions. And they can find me – it's easy. But no, nobody tried to contact me."


Topics: Erin Burnett • ISIS • Karl Penhaul • Syria
September 11th, 2014
04:46 PM ET

CNN's Hala Gorani speaks to Assad adviser about Obama's ISIS speech, strategy

In an interview with CNN’s Hala Gorani, Syrian official Bouthaina Shaaban says Syria is ready to work with the U.S., but warns against any "act of aggression” by the U.S.

“We are ready to be part of any coalition against terrorism, and any strike on Syria without coordination with the Syrian government is considered an aggression against Syria.”

Shaaban, who is the political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also says Obama’s strategy against ISIS has “many loopholes” and “leaves a lot to be desired.”

“The strategy that I read by Obama has many loopholes and leaves a lot to be desired. He would benefit a lot from cooperating with the Syrian government against terrorism because we have been truly fighting terrorism for the last four years. The four points he outlined as his strategy will not work simply because they are not based on reality.”

2p CNNi Europe Aircheck


CNN International Bolsters Senior Editorial Lineup with Key Executive Changes
September 8th, 2014
10:18 AM ET

CNN International Bolsters Senior Editorial Lineup with Key Executive Changes

CNN International is making a number of key changes designed to strengthen its international management and sharpen its focus across newsgathering and editorial content across TV and digital, it was announced today by Tony Maddox, Executive Vice President and Managing Editor of CNN International.

“These changes tighten our senior management structure, but more importantly they bring the strengths of these exceptional editorial operators to bear on the key parts of the CNN International network,” said Maddox. “This new structure will help us to continue delivering the outstanding editorial output across all platforms that has seen us serve audiences worldwide with award-winning newsgathering and programming.” FULL POST

September 4th, 2014
10:31 AM ET

Sending reporters into harm's way

Tony Maddox, Executive Vice President for CNN International, talks about sending reporters into harm's way.


"We are a volunteer army."

Propaganda concerns, duty to tell whole story drive decisions about terror videos

Topics: Brian Stelter • CNN • CNN International
September 3rd, 2014
04:53 PM ET

Was Boston’s Most Notorious Gangster an Informant?

WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger set to premiere on CNN on Thursday, Sept. 18

Long before he became the top dog of the “Winter Hill Gang” mob, James “Whitey” Bulger’s ‘resume’ already included tenure as an inmate at Alcatraz – an infamous maximum security federal penitentiary that was reserved for the nation’s most dangerous felons. Later, for nearly 30 years, Bulger frightened, threatened, intimidated, murdered, extorted, dealt drugs to, and robbed residents of Boston. The South Boston native is suspected of taking part in 19 murders – seven by his own hand – executed with such brutality that Bulger was at one point second only to Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list.

CNN Films’ WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger is a revelatory nonfiction feature film that follows the sensational 2013 trial of the notorious mob boss. Produced by Radical Media, in association with Third Eye Motion Picture Company, this riveting, two-hour film is directed and produced by Joe Berlinger and produced by Caroline Suh. It will premiere at 9:00pm and 11:00pm Eastern on Thursday, Sept. 18, on CNN/U.S..

Using the courtroom action as a springboard to examine accusations of multifaceted corruption within our nation’s law enforcement and legal systems, the film explores new evidence that Bulger may have been aided and abetted by our nation’s top law enforcement agencies that knew about his crimes – and even helped cover them up.

The film includes the voice of James Bulger himself, in his first-ever media interview. Bulger, who responds to questions via telephone with his defense attorney J.W. Carney, Jr., for the film, discusses his relationships with investigators, his negotiations with prosecutors, and his proposal to plead guilty in an attempt to absolve his long-time girlfriend, Catherine Greig, with whom he lived as a fugitive for more than 15 years.

“The goal of including Bulger in the film was not to take sides or to diminish his crimes,” says director Joe Berlinger. “Bulger is a brutal killer and deserves to be behind bars. However, the families of the victims deserve to hear why Bulger was allowed to kill with impunity.”

The production team embedded for months with victims’ families, FBI agents, Massachusetts State Police, federal prosecutors, Bulger’s defense attorneys, and former gangsters, for extraordinary access to explore the allegations of corruption within the highest levels of law enforcement. The film pulls back the curtain on long-held Bulger mythology, detailing shocking, new allegations of collusion, and accusations of federal and police corruption.

“What makes this trial extraordinary – and really crazy – is the defense is defending him from an assertion that he was an informant– even though it is not a charge...It’s not about guilt or innocence in this trial. It’s about his legacy – of wanting to establish he wasn’t a tout, a rat, an informant…,” David Boeri, senior reporter for Boston’s WBUR radio says in the film.

“We commissioned this film as a way to present – and challenge – the allegations of conspiracy and government and police corruption that have surrounded this case,” said Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president for development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide.   “Berlinger and his team have masterfully woven multiple perspectives of the Whitey Bulger case into a provocative story of crime and punishment.” FULL POST

September 3rd, 2014
11:19 AM ET

Inside CNN's interviews with detained Americans in North Korea

CNN correspondent Will Ripley (@willripleycnn) tells Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) what happened behind the scenes of his impromptu interviews with three detained Americans in North Korea.

"Government minders pulled me aside – they were shaking – and said we needed to go right now back to Pyongyang. I was nervous – I didn't know what was happening," Ripley said.

We got in this van and drove to an area of the capital that we've never seen before off the regular route up to this nondescript building. And it was only when we were standing at the front door that they told us...we would be talking with the three Americans who were being held in North Korea."

Here's Ripley's report on his interviews with Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller: 

Topics: AC360 • North Korea • Will Ripley
August 15th, 2014
11:35 AM ET

Flight from Terror: New CNN special report takes viewers inside dramatic rescue from Iraq's Mt. Sinjar

What started off as an aid drop for a vulnerable population fleeing persecution at the hands of ISIS unexpectedly turned into a dramatic and chaotic rescue mission that has become a defining moment for a country on the brink of collapse.

CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson and his team, which includes Emmy-nominated photojournalist Mark Phillips, were on board the Iraqi relief helicopter making a supply drop to desperate Yazidis seeking refuge from ISIS on Mt. Sinjar. As the chopper touched down, it was rushed by these frantic refugees begging for rescue. Among them, a girl in purple with tears streaming down her face - 15-year-old Aziza. Separated from her father back on Mt. Sinjar, her story has captured the world's attention.

But as Watson reported after the rescue, getting off the mountain – either by air or on foot – is only half the battle. Where do the Yazidis go now? In a breathtaking half hour, CNN takes you behind the scenes of the dramatic rescue from Mt. Sinjar as people embark on a flight from terror.  FULL POST

August 14th, 2014
03:46 PM ET

Ivan Watson's reporting from Iraq and Syria posted on Twitter

CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson (@ivanCNN) journeys with Iraqi forces to Mount Sinjar in a dramatic mission to supply and rescue desperate Yazidis after they fled ISIS. He captures and describes the harrowing story and posts it to his twitter account.

Topics: Ivan Watson
July 24th, 2014
03:28 PM ET

CNN Exclusive: Turkish PM Erdogan sits down with CNN's Becky Anderson

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson (@beckycnn), Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about the situation in Gaza, calling it a “genocide by Israel.”

“Nazism, the Fascism that was applied by Hitler, if you put all these on the table just like that, you can see that what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, has surpassed what Hitler did to them,” Erdogan said. “We don't approve. We don't accept what Hitler did either, but right now, we do not accept this persecution, the massacre, the genocide by Israel. Hamas and Fatah are unified in respect of this two-state structure, and they've formed a national consensus government. Israel does not want this government to make progress, they want to break it up.”

Erdogan also accused Israel of being a “terror state,” saying the country’s operation in Gaza was “creating a wave of terror.” FULL POST

Topics: Becky Anderson • Connect the World • Egypt • Gaza • Israel • Turkey
Turkish PM Erdogan to CNN: "Israel is a terror state."
July 23rd, 2014
04:17 PM ET

Turkish PM Erdogan to CNN: "Israel is a terror state."

In an interview recorded Wednesday with CNN’s Becky Anderson (@beckycnn), Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of being a “terror state,” saying that the country’s operation in Gaza was “creating a wave of terror.”

Erdogan also denied that the governments of Turkey or Qatar were involved in the funding of Hamas’ terrorist activities, saying the only support his country is offering to the people of Gaza is humanitarian.

“Qatar’s cooperation with Turkey has always been to be on the side of the persecuted and to support them through humanitarian aid. This is what’s being done.”

The full interview will air Thursday at 11aET on CNN International’s Connect the World with Becky Anderson. FULL POST

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