Full transcript of Saudi crown prince CBS interview

 Full transcript of Saudi crown prince CBS interview
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks with correspondent Norah O'Donnell during an interview on Tuesday with the CBS program "60 Minutes," in Saudi Arabia. (60MINUTES/Handout via Reuters)
Updated 30 September 2019

Full transcript of Saudi crown prince CBS interview

 Full transcript of Saudi crown prince CBS interview
  • The wide-ranging interview was conducted with Norah O’Donnell, the anchor of CBS Evening News
  • The crown prince discussed the Jamal Khashoggi case, the war in Yemen and the global threat from Iran

Norah O'Donnell: Did you order the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Absolutely not. This was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.

Norah O'Donnell: What does that mean that you take responsibility?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials, working for the Saudi government, as a leader I must take responsibility. This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future.

Norah O'Donnell: The world wants the answer to this question. How did you not know about this operation?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Some think that I should know what three million people working for the Saudi government do daily? It's impossible that the three million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second highest person in the Saudi government.

Norah O'Donnell: Two of your closest advisors who are accused of orchestrating this plot were fired by the king, removed from your inner circle. The question is, how could you not know if this was carried out by people who are close to you?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Today the investigations are being carried out. And once charges are proven against someone, regardless of their rank, it will be taken to court, no exception made.

Norah O'Donnell: I've read what the Saudi prosecutor has said about those that are charged in this murder. And it's gruesome, the details. When you heard that people close to you and in your government carried out such a grisly murder, and that the American government thinks that you ordered it, what did you think?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I believe what you mentioned is not correct. There isn't an official statement announced by the American government in this regard. There isn't clear information or evidence that someone close to me did something to that effect. There are charges and they're being investigated. But again you cannot imagine the pain that we suffered, especially as the Saudi government, from a crime such as this one.

Norah O'Donnell: The CIA has concluded with medium to high confidence that you personally targeted Khashoggi and you probably ordered his death.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I hope this information to be brought forward. If there is any such information that charges me, I hope it is brought forward publicly.

Norah O'Donnell: What kind of threat is a newspaper columnist to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that he would deserve to be brutally murdered?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: There is no threat from any journalist. The threat to Saudi Arabia is from such actions against a Saudi journalist. This heinous crime, that took place in a Saudi consulate.

Norah O'Donnell: I spoke with a prominent U.S. senator before I came here. And he said because of what happened with Jamal Khashoggi and what's happened in Yemen that in his words there's not a lot of good will around here in Congress for Saudi Arabia. How much has it hurt the relationship?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: The relationship is much larger than that and this is a heinous incident and painful to all of us. Our role is to work day and night to overcome this and to make sure our future is much better than anything that happened in the past.

 

 

Norah O'Donnell: This attack hit the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry. Were you blindsided?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I might disagree with you. This attack didn't hit the heart of the Saudi energy industry, but rather the heart of the global energy industry. It disrupted 5.5% of the world's energy needs, the needs of the U.S. and China and the whole world.

Norah O'Donnell: The kingdom is the world's number one importer of arms, of military equipment; billions of dollars spent on equipment. How could it not prevent an attack like this?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Saudi Arabia is almost the size of a continent, it is bigger than all of Western Europe. We have 360 degrees of threats. It's challenging to cover all of this fully.

Norah O'Donnell: What do you think was the strategic reason that Iran struck Aramco?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I believe it's stupidity. There is no strategic goal. Only a fool would attack 5% of global supplies. The only strategic goal is to prove that they are stupid and that is what they did.

Norah O'Donnell: Secretary Mike Pompeo has called what Iran did in his words, "an act of war." Was it an act of war?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Of course. Yes.

Norah O'Donnell: What kind of effect would a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran have on the region?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: The region represents about 30% of the world's energy supplies, about 20% of global trade passages, about 4% of the world GDP. Imagine all of these three things stop. This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests. Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven't seen in our lifetimes.

Norah O'Donnell: Does it have to be a military response?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I hope not.

Norah O'Donnell: Why not?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Because the political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one.

Norah O'Donnell: Do you think that President Trump should sit down with President Rouhani and craft a new deal?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Absolutely. This is what President Trump is asking for, this is what we all ask for. However, it is the Iranians who don't want to sit at the table.

Norah O'Donnell: It is called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. What's the solution?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: First, if Iran stops its support of the Houthi militia, the political solution will be much easier. Today we open all initiatives for a political solution in Yemen. We hope this happens today rather than tomorrow.

Norah O'Donnell: You're saying tonight that you want to negotiate an end to the war in Yemen?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: We are doing this every day. But we try to turn this discussion into an actual implementation on the ground, and the Houthis a few days ago announced a ceasefire, from their side, we consider it a positive step to push for more serious and active political dialogue.

Norah O'Donnell: Why, after five years, are you optimistic tonight that a ceasefire could hold, that could lead to an end to the war in Yemen?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: As a leader, I must always be optimistic every day. If I'm a pessimist, I should leave my post and work somewhere else.

Norah O'Donnell: There are about a dozen female activists that have been detained for more than a year. Why were they put in jail?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Saudi Arabia is a country governed by laws. Some of these laws I might disagree with personally, but as long as they are now existing laws, they must be respected, until they are reformed.

Norah O'Donnell: Is it time to let her (female activist Loujain Al-Hathloul) go?

 

 

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: This decision is not up to me. It's up to the public prosecutor, and it's an independent public prosecutor.

Norah O'Donnell: Her family says that she has been tortured in prison. Is that right?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: If this is correct, it is very heinous. Islam forbids torture. The Saudi laws forbid torture. Human conscience forbids torture. And I will personally follow up on this matter.

Norah O'Donnell: You will personally follow up on it?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Without a doubt.

Norah O'Donnell: Publicly you have pledged to change Saudi Arabia, to transform the economy, to talk about a moderate Islam, to allow women to have more rights. Yet there is a crackdown and a jailing of women who raise issues about things that need to change in Saudi Arabia. That is the perception, that you do not support women's rights and human rights and that these are concrete examples of women who have been jailed.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: This perception pains me. It pains me when some people look at the picture from a very narrow angle. I hope that everybody comes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and sees the reality, and meets women and Saudi citizens, and judges for themselves.

Norah O'Donnell: What lessons have you learned? And have you made mistakes?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Even prophets made mistakes. So how come we, as humans, expect not to make mistakes? The important thing is that we learn from these mistakes and not repeat them.


Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own

Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own
Updated 43 min 16 sec ago

Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own

Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own
  • Greenroom is the Swedish online music streaming giant’s answer to the popular platform Clubhouse

NEW YORK: Spotify on Wednesday launched a live audio app called Greenroom, the Swedish online music streaming giant’s answer to the popular platform Clubhouse.
Greenroom allows users to join live discussions or to host their own.
Spotify launched Greenroom after acquiring Betty Labs, the company behind the popular sports-focused audio platform Locker Room.
Along with podcasts, social audio has taken off over the past year with the San Francisco-based Clubhouse leading the way.
Since December, Clubhouse has been downloaded over 18 million times, according to the site AppMagic.
Other tech giants have also jumped into the live audio sector with Twitter launching Spaces in December and Facebook hosting Live Audio Rooms.
Questions remain, however, over the ability of the various platforms to monetize their content.
They will also have to compete with Discord, which has been offering live audio since 2015 and has more than 140 million users although it has been more focused on video game players.
Spotify has the advantage of already being an audio platform through its focus on music and, more recently, podcasts.


Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order

Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order
Updated 54 min 41 sec ago

Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order

Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order
  • US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will decide which apps to target for US action
  • Apps linked to other adversaries such as Iran or Venezuela are already blocked under broader sanctions

President Joe Biden’s executive order aimed at safeguarding Americans’ sensitive data would force some Chinese apps to take tougher measures to protect private information if they want to remain in the US market, according to people familiar with the matter.
The goal is to keep foreign adversaries like China and Russia from gaining access to large amounts of personal and proprietary business information.
The US Department of Commerce may issue subpoenas to collect information about certain smartphone, tablet and desktop computer software applications. Then the agency may negotiate conditions for their use in the United States or ban the apps, according to people familiar with the matter.
Biden’s June 9 order replaced former President Donald Trump’s 2020 bans against the popular Chinese applications WeChat, owned by Tencent Holdings Co, and ByteDance Ltd’s TikTok. US courts halted those bans.
US officials share many of the concerns Trump cited in his order banning TikTok, according to one person familiar with the matter. Notably, they fear that China could track the locations of US government employees, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage.
While the new order does not name companies, it could end up capturing more apps than the Trump bans and hold up better if challenged in court. Reuters is the first to report details on how the Biden administration plans to implement the order, including seeking support from other countries.
US officials have begun speaking with allies about adopting a similar approach, one source said. The hope is that partner countries will agree on apps that should be banned.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will decide which apps to target for US action, but they must meet certain criteria. For instance, they must be owned, controlled or managed by a person or entity that supports the military or intelligence activities of a foreign adversary such as China or Russia.

WeChat, TikTok may be reviewed
If Raimondo decides an app poses an unacceptable risk, she “has the discretion to notify the parties” directly or publish the information in the government’s official daily publication, the Federal Register, a Commerce Department spokesman said.
Companies will then have 30 days to object or propose measures to secure data better, the Commerce spokesman said.
The process stems from a May 2019 Trump executive order for reviewing information and communications technology from foreign adversaries.
Apps from China are most likely to find themselves in the Commerce Department’s crosshairs given escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing, the Chinese government’s ability to exert control over companies and the number of Chinese apps used by Americans.
WeChat, TikTok and eight other apps targeted by the Trump administration in its last months are eligible for review by Biden’s team, one source said.
The Trump targets also included Ant Group’s Alipay mobile payment app, WeChat Pay, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s QQ Wallet, Tencent QQ, CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate published by Alibaba Group subsidiary UCWeb and Beijing Kingsoft Office Software’s WPS Office.
Some of the apps named by Trump have serious data protection issues, while it’s unclear why others pose a heightened risk to national security, according to another person familiar with the matter.
The order will apply to business apps, including those used in banking and telecommunications, as well as consumer apps, the first source said.
Apps linked to other adversaries such as Iran or Venezuela are already blocked under broader sanctions. 


Google adds end-to-end encryption messaging to its Android app

The feature will only be active provided that both users have it turned on. (File/AFP)
The feature will only be active provided that both users have it turned on. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 June 2021

Google adds end-to-end encryption messaging to its Android app

The feature will only be active provided that both users have it turned on. (File/AFP)
  • Google adds the end-to-end encryption feature for messaging to its Android app.
  • Users will be able to know the feature is turned on because the send icon will have a small padlock on it.

LONDON: Google announced on Wednesday a series of new features to be added to its Android phone system, most notably end-to-end encryption for messaging.

In contrast to Apple’s iMessage system which had the end-to-end encryption for years, Google only developed the feature in November, and it is now being rolled-out to devices with access to rich communication services (RCS).

The feature will only be active provided that both users have it turned on, are connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data, and have RCS enabled under chat settings. Otherwise, the advanced chat features on Android will revert back onto regular short message service (SMS) messaging.

Users will be able to know the feature is turned on because the send icon will have a small padlock on it.

In a statement, Google said: “No matter who you’re messaging with, the information you share is personal. End-to-end encryption in Messages helps keep your conversations more secure while sending.”

Other new Android features include enabling users to star messages in the Google app, to find them more quickly in future, contextual emoji suggestions, Google Assistant updates, and Android Auto updates for cars.

Google’s earthquake-alerts feature, initially introduced in New Zealand and Greece, was also being extended to Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.


Indian police target Twitter with a criminal complaint

Twitter claimed the new IT rules, which came into effect on May 26, were a threat to freedom of expression. (File/AFP)
Twitter claimed the new IT rules, which came into effect on May 26, were a threat to freedom of expression. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 June 2021

Indian police target Twitter with a criminal complaint

Twitter claimed the new IT rules, which came into effect on May 26, were a threat to freedom of expression. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter was targeted with a criminal complaint by Indian police amid growing tensions with Indian government regarding IT rules.
  • Twitter said it is making every effort to comply with the new regulations, including appointing a new interim chief compliance officer in India. 

LONDON: Twitter has been targeted with a criminal complaint by Indian police after a video was shared on the platform of an elderly Muslim man being beaten up.

Police in Uttar Pradesh province in India on Tuesday filed a case accusing Twitter and several other social media platforms of intentionally provoking unrest between members of different communities and religions. 

The video posted to Twitter shows an elderly Muslim man being beaten by a group of young men and having his beard cut off. In another video, the victim recounts the incident and says that he was forced to chant a Hindu slogan during the incident.

Three suspects are in custody. 

In response, India’s Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is also minister of justice, said that “what happened in UP (Uttar Pradesh) was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news.”

“While Twitter has been over-enthusiastic about its fact-checking mechanism, the failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing and indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” he added.

Prasad also published a series of tweets highlighting Twitter’s failure to comply with India’s newly introduced IT laws.  

 

 

In response, Twitter said on Tuesday that it is making every effort to comply with the new regulations, including appointing a new interim chief compliance officer in India. 

The social media giant is already on shaky ground in India. In recent weeks, tensions have grown between the Indian government and Twitter over new IT rules giving authorities more powers to regulate online content. 

Twitter claimed the new IT rules, which came into effect on May 26, were a threat to freedom of expression.

However, the government warned that failure to comply might result in social media platforms losing their status as content intermediaries. 

The requirements will make social media companies, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, more accountable to legal requests from the Indian government and police in regards to removing posts and content deemed unlawful by the authorities.   


Carlos Ghosn on the dark side of Japan, life in Lebanon and his upcoming documentary

Carlos Ghosn on the dark side of Japan, life in Lebanon and his upcoming documentary
Updated 18 June 2021

Carlos Ghosn on the dark side of Japan, life in Lebanon and his upcoming documentary

Carlos Ghosn on the dark side of Japan, life in Lebanon and his upcoming documentary
  • The former Nissan chairman was arrested in Tokyo in 2018 over allegations of false accounting and financial misconduct
  • In Dec. 2019, Ghosn pulled off a complex and dramatic escape that could have come straight from a Hollywood movie

LONDON: Carlos Ghosn, the auto-executive-turned-fugitive who plotted a brazen escape from Osaka in December 2019 following his arrest by Japanese authorities on charges of financial misconduct, has denounced what he calls Japan’s darker side — its legal system.

Ever since the French-Lebanese-Brazilian former chairman of Japanese car giant Nissan was arrested at Tokyo International Airport on Nov. 19, 2018, before launching a daring escape a year later hidden inside a luggage box on a private jet, the world has watched Ghosn’s capers with rapt attention.

Speaking exclusively to Arab News, the 67-year-old Ghosn, now on Interpol’s most-wanted list, again asserted his innocence and accused a powerful business cabal of being in league with Japanese prosecutors in discrediting him.

“When you go to Japan, you have the impression you are in a mature democracy where your rights are going to be respected, where you’re going to be dealt with with fairness. There is nothing more wrong than that,” Ghosn told Arab News.

“Prosecutors win in 99.4 percent of the cases, which means as long as they turn their eyes on you and for any reason they decide to pursue you on any matter, you have zero chance of getting out.”

Ghosn has denied accusations of underreporting his compensation and misusing company funds to support a lavish lifestyle. The former auto executive insists that he was the victim of a corporate coup linked to a decline in Nissan’s financial performance as the Japanese automaker resisted losing autonomy to its French partner Renault.

That is why Ghosn says he had to jump his $14 million bail and flee rather than face charges in what he claims to be an unfair trial.

“Whenever you have a coalition between executives in a company, the Tokyo prosecutor, and Hideki Makihara, the minister of industry in Japan, there is no more place for justice. It’s over. It’s a killer coalition where you have zero chance of prevailing.”

Ghosn likened his treatment to the 2011 Olympus scandal and others at Toshiba, Takata and Fukushima, where he claims the same hidden hands have wrangled their favored results.

Mainstream media has picked up on only a fraction of the murky world underpinning the whole debacle, says Ghosn, who intends to set the record straight in a new MBC documentary, “The Last Flight.”

“When you read the articles that are being published, and will continue to be published, they are focusing on one specific aspect, one specific individual, one specific event,” Ghosn said.

“I think this documentary, from what I’ve seen, is really giving somebody who is not aware or has little awareness about what was going on a sense about how it started, who the main actors are, and what forces are at play.”

 

 

Among those interviewed are officials in Japan’s justice ministry, a Japanese prosecutor, Ghosn’s Japanese lawyer, France’s former minister of finance, and Ghosn’s former boss.

Despite Ghosn and his wife Carole’s involvement in the feature’s production, he insists the film will offer a balanced portrayal of events.

“The interest into a documentary like this is to try to present the facts in a very objective way, giving the opportunity for the different parties to express themselves. So instead of the public listening to one voice which is biased about what happened, they have the opportunity to listen to the different voices and to the different positions.”

The trials of Ghosn’s former colleague Greg Kelly and the two Americans who helped him escape — father and son Michael and Peter Taylor — were continuing at the time of this interview.

On Monday, both Taylors confessed to aiding and abetting the auto executive’s escape from Japan to Lebanon via Turkey in December 2019 in exchange for $1.3 million. Ghosn believes the documentary will have no impact on the outcome of the Kelly and Taylor trials.

Nevertheless, he said that the film will show he is the victim of a character assassination orchestrated by the Japanese government, the French media and his former employers in response to his role in the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance — an attack he was unable to challenge in the public domain.

“Between November 2018 and December 2019 when I flew out, I was not authorized to talk. I couldn’t talk to the press. Every time I tried to talk to the press, I paid a very high price for it,” Ghosn said.

“So for 14 months, we had a litany of information about a character assassination, the source of which was Tokyo, with the collusion of the Japanese government, the Tokyo prosecutor’s office and Nissan from one side, relayed unfortunately by French public officials, some Renault accomplices, and the media in France, around the angle that they didn’t support this guy because there was something fishy about what he has done in the companies.”

Ghosn has already tried to tell his side of the story in two books: the first, published in French and Arabic, and soon to be translated to English and Japanese, setting out to counter the allegations made against him, while the second, co-written by his wife, describes the “human side” of the story, “how we have been, from her side and my side, dealing with this ordeal during these 14 months.”

Following his escape from Japan, Ghosn headed to his native Lebanon, where his wife was waiting for him. He has been there ever since.

With his days as an executive in the automotive industry over, Ghosn has occupied himself with pro bono work with the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, where he has developed a business program. He is also involved with several local startups.

Dubbed “Mr. Fix It” for essentially saving Nissan from bankruptcy, Ghosn strongly denies he has designs on a career in politics to help rescue Lebanon from economic ruin.

“I’m dedicating my time to re-establishing my reputation, defending my rights, fighting the different legal battles that have been launched against me or that are launching against the company that treated me so badly,” he said.

Lebanon faces an unprecedented crisis on multiple fronts. Its currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value on the black market and the country is struggling with shortages of gas and electricity.

Following 10 months of deadlock, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is still trying to form a cabinet amid seemingly endless squabbling with Michel Aoun, the country’s president, and his son-in-law, the US-sanctioned former foreign minister Gebran Bassil.

On top of all this, the country is reeling from the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast, which leveled a whole city district and left more than 200 dead and thousands more wounded. Ghosn nevertheless believes Lebanon can find workable solutions if it implements proper reforms.

“I think there is a perception that this problem is so complicated that there is no obvious solution. This is wrong. There is no problem that man has created that man cannot solve.

“This requires choices. This also means that whoever the Lebanese public decides to back makes choices, that they implement reforms, and that these reforms are successful.

“This is not the only country in the world that has this kind of economic dysfunction.”

Twitter: @Tarek_AliAhmad