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tv   BBC Newsnight  WHUT  April 3, 2011 8:00am-8:30am EDT

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>> "bbc newsnight" is presented by kcet, los angeles. funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. and union bank. >> union bank has put its financial strength to work for a wide range of companies, from
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small businesses to major corporations. what can we do for you? >> the united nations may not have authorized a fight for a routine change in libya, but it seems the regime is changing itself. this week, the libyan foreign minister has defected to britain. this man's father was kidnapped by the gaddafi regime and interrogated. >> if you had to choose one per cent -- one person who is more connected, you would not do better. >> more fighters have been sent to charlie al-qaeda then in any other place and the world. >> what kind of libya willchild?
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this country is about to find out. >> and the president of syria says the protests againstis rule are part of some kind of conspiracy. we will hear from the syrian ambassador today. hello. be a brother leader will fight on, declared colonel gaddafi's blood puppet in tripoli this week. his foreign minister turned up in london and the foreign minister shrugged his shoulders. they said that the leadership was bigger than any one man. rebels have been forced into retreat this week. but this does give the british government real problems to deal with. here is richard wilson. >> the libyan regime's opponents defection of this man
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is the latest issue in days. he is a big prize in the. in a deal that seems to have been broken by mi-6, has been debriefed. >> he was of foreign minister, a key member of this government. at the fact that he decided to defect, adding that speaks volumes. >> this presents a dilemma for the british government. on one hand, it is a huge intelligence to -- coup. on the other, he is a controversial figure. his name has been linked to assassinations. some have claimed that his name may be linked to the bombing of flight 13 over lockerbie. he caused huge control the scene -- controversy at the time.
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he said that he approve of this. he also said later that he was misquoted. in 1984, there was another murder and murder of 270 people when pan am flight 1 and 3 was blown from the skies over lockerbie. and all of these cases, libyan intelligence was strongly indicated. >> he has been at the center of gaddafi's regime. therefore he knows what involvement the regime had in causing the lockerbie tragedy itself. the question is, will he tell us? and if he does, can we give credence to what he says? >> his comments at the time resulted him -- resulted in him being expelled. critics say he set a ruthless town for successors in london.
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it was 1995 when there was a brutal attack at a shop in london. he was stabbed multiple times. his body was mutilated. his family believed this was a warning from colonel gaddafi's security forces. the murder was designed to show that when it comes to opposition, the regime's memory was long. we spoke to his daughter, who has long campaigned for justice for her father. there were no arrests or prosecutions at the time. when libyan operative was expelled. >> he was murdered, after a few months of receiving death threats. it was a very professional murder. there were cleathe people who wd of the foreign intelligence
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service, a key members of the gaddafi regime -- he is known to some people as an envoy death. this was not someone who you might think he just work for the gaddafi regime. no, he was a key player in the years of terror. >> in 1919 '90's and leaked intelligence reports showed -- 1919 '90's, lead intelligence reports showed involvement. here, at this key meeting with tony blair, and he was there to negotiate libya giving up weapons of mass destruction. the americans were warm, it's you, as easily as cables were reviewed. he has been willing best you carve the united states'message
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is said that they will be palatable to libyan leadership. many believe this should dominate the western engagement. >> here is an individual who has a depth of information. not just military, of course. social, political, economic. he understands how the heart beat of the country of libya is at the moment, and also gaddafi's thinking. he may not be entirely up to date, but he is a very valuable source. perhaps a propaganda source. not a word we like to normal use, but that is the truth of the matter. >> we would like to question and talk to him because it may encourage others to defect. it may speed up the downfall of the gadhafi regime. and think what we have to be careful of is before any deal is
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done, before he is allowed to go to any other country, we get answers to the questions that need to be answered of the terror and activities he was involved in the past 20-odd years. >> there are unconfirmed reports that as many as 10 other libyan officials are on the verge of defecting, but the foreign office would not comment. if true, this has the potential still bolstered the hopes of the opposition, who have been dashed by the military offensive of the last few days. >> the impetus of the defection was a former libyan jihadist had come to britain. there is an amazing novel based around his own experiences. his father is a leading diplomats who disappeared in the
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1990's. the former foreign office minister michael bryan has met with many times. let's talk about this. your father was in exile in cairo. you believe that during his disappearance he was interrogated? >> yes, my father sent letters that were smuggled out of present. he sent three letters between 1993 and 1995. he described in detail how he was abducted, where he was placed, how he was treated, the people who interrogated him. >> does he say anything more? >> he says -- not particularly, but no, he says a lot of detail about how he was treated. that he was tortured.
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that he was not allowed out of his cell for the first two years except eight times. >> is inconceivable that the man who took part in the interrogation was unaware. >> absolutely. i think if you had to choose one person that is more connected, not only to the ruthlessness of the violence exacted by bbn dictatorship over the people, but the macabre -- by the libyan dictatorship over the people, but the macabre nature of it, you would not do better. >> he does not look like a brute. >> yes. he is -- i am always saying, he is close to the regime. everybody knows that. that is the facts.
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that is part of the dna of the libyan regime. but i think he is hereo talk about legal issues. >> you also met him. >> yes. >> what sort of a man is he? >> he is a clever, burbank, -- urbane, head of a brutal intelligence office when i met him. he was also a key player in convincing gaddafi to get rid of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical weapons. >> he was absolutely central to a deadly regime? >> he was absolutely central. people like the sons of gaddafi had taken control of much -- even when i was with them back in 2003. he did not like the suns. they are much more influential now than they were then.
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>> the key question is, this guy is in the country. you told us a little bit about what he is like. what should the british do with him? >> stick to the case. you cannot undermine -- i think the key issue here, he is cooperating with the authorities, ok? including cases from libya, key system do with international terrorism. i am sure they will ask him specifically. >> you are in an absolutely key position on all this. 's family has suffered personally at this man's hands. and yet, you presumably supports the revolution in libya. he must be presumably offered
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some freedom from inquiry about offenses committed elsewhere? >> many other people in the country suffered. history shows that if you do not stop past atrocities, then the change you have will be a compromise change. this is a fantastic opportunity for libya to address these crimes have gone -- head on her, and to have an new era of accountability. the violence has not only been indiscriminate and hideous, but it has had this absolute madness about it. no one is ever accountable. >> the specific problem with this man here, now. what do you sing? you were in government? >> yes, i was. the government does not have unity. let's look at the evidence.
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we may prove beyond a doubt that someone has committed atrocities. even if they have been the head of a real intelligence service, it may be difficult in a court of law. >> morally though, what should we do? >> the government has to get rid of gaddafi. how are we going to ensure the people who are considering whether to defect or not do defect? certainly not by arresting him, at least at this point. >> it sounds like a tawdry deal to me. >> what it sounds like is not allowing more people to die. this guy was central to the gaddafi regime. what we need to do is to get others to defects, to erode gaddafi's regime, then. >> what would you like to see. >> -- what would you like to
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see? >> i would like to see a robust triumph. i think that is what the libyan people desert. >> do you believe the british government -- they have not offered him and unity. they have said specifically they have not offer him immunity. >> it is hard for me to say, because i do not know enough about the conversations that are taking place. what i am concerned about though is how this is deflecting from the humanitarian disaster. otherwise we would not be talking about this. but what is taking place right now is a disaster, and i hope that this issue is not going to deflect from that. >> nato's operations commander said this week that u.s. intelligence had picked up flickers of al-qaeda activity
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among rebel groups and libya. documents published by wikileaks have confirmed that america as a real concerns about islamist movements in libya. but what may a post-gaddafi libya look like? our reporter has been the east, famous for its rebellion, and also sending fighters to iraq. we tried to find out. >> founded by maurice refugees from spain -- moorish refugees from its bank, it has always been a rebellious city. they fought the turks. they thought the italians. they tried to stop barbary pirates. now we're fighting the homegrown libyan enemy, muammar gaddafi. five gunmen gave their lives for the cause of freedom, shot dead
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during the protests. now the rim at the mosque is the communications nervous center. -- now the room at the mosque is the communications nerve center. >> gaddafi has guns, but we have not guns. before europe or any country -- give us guns. >> several cities and in eastern libya have won their freedom by themselves, but now they need far and help to finish the job and free the rest of the country. -- foreign help to finish the job. but that is not technically what the international community sign up for, and some in europe and america are concerned they do not know exactly what kind of people that are supporting a year.
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gaddafi claims that in the uprising this area has become an islamic emirate. yet found no evidence of this. this is taken seriously by some western policymakers. the mosque now hosts all of the regime from local victims. these were 12 prisoners national league wanted dead and in 1986. those revered here as martyrs include activists of many different political persuasions, some who were not political activists at all. among the group, there was of vineland coalition called the ilsg whose members drew from
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eastern libyan towns. their goal was an islamic state. after 9/11, they were an alleged affiliate of al-qaeda. in libya, most of them were jailed. diplomatic cables from 2008 released by wikileaks revealed that the united states remain concerned about the spread out exceed -- extremism in eastern libya. this is described as a wellspring of aren't fighters going to iraq. -- foreign fighters going to iraq. it is only and medium-size town of about 80,000 people. i'd been invited to speak to the head of one of the most respected families here. almost all of the suns have been in jail at one time or another by gaddafi. that is what he does not want to
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be identified on camera. >> gaddafi says that there are extremists here, that if the uprising were successful throughout the country, libya itself might be run by extremists. >> it is his opinion, but it is not true. the country will not be held by extremists. it will be run by moderates. mubarak said it in egypt. they said, if we are not in charge, extremists will take over. but they fell and their governments will fall, too. >> some say he start the town known for its rebellious spirit of investment opportunities. these citizens of his state of the masses have been winning
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more than 10 years for proper housing. >> i have a job. i have no solution. can you help me? i am looking for a home. >> infrastructure is next to none. there is no future for any of the young ones. that is why so many are turning to their faith, go into the mosque. they say, i would rather go for jihad were to iraq -- or to iraq and stay in this country. -- and state and in this country. >> at the mosque, they are being marshalled into mine for an anti-gaddafi demonstration. the revolution for them has meant weeks without school.
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the city is still conjures up its message. it tries to ensure its to politics. >> syria, the one-party state, now under the leadership of president bashar al-assad is being undermined by a conspiracy, at least according to the president himself. he said there was no time to end the nearly 50 years of emergency rule that has lasted since his father ceded power. so it nonstop to the surveillance, arbitrary arrests, and torture. >> this plot, your president was talking about -- who is behind it? >> i think all those who say
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syria has really cashed in the result of the revolutions in egypt and tunisia. the change that is about to help the syrian position. it is encouraging me -- the expansion of policies towards israel. particularly at a time when syria was going to go with countries along the same line along the arab initiative, we see this happening in syria. and think all parties, whether in the west or israel or among the fundamentalists who are interested in seeing the destabilization of syria at -- >> it is the israelis behind it, is that what you are saying? >> the israelis could be behind it. >> it is interesting.
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the text of this speech he gave -- he does not deny that there has been unrest. he does not deny there has been bloodshed. >> he does not deny, too, that there are legitimate demands of many of the people who are demonstrating. but ultimately, they were gradually in cited by those who wanted unrest and you destabilize the country. at the most of the syrian people, jeremy, are extremely sad about what happens trust how many people -- what happened -- >> how many people were killed? do you know? >> yes. we have the news, information that says about 25 people were killed and three or four security men. >> so, he said that people have legitimate demands. and he also said at the end of his speech, whoever wants
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reform, we are here. what sort of reforms are he -- is he thinking of? >> reforms that are not done hastily just because there are pressures on syria. we have been living since we started the reform process. we had been living under continuous pressure is. there was at the migration from the borders of iraq. then problems from the west. now we have started with the problems of syria -- >> may be the last 40 years of emergency rule -- and might be a change of tactic? >> even if the emergency rule is lifted, even at the emergency is lifted, we still need it, like the u.k. -- we will not need an emergency rule in any more. >> do you think he might think
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about giving up torture as well? >> [unintelligible] >> if no, no. in syria, your own country. which, as you know, has been condemned by the united nations and various other organizations. >> he has given orders not to harm any demonstrators who does not demolished public or private property. his given orders to protect all of those except in the first day of the unrest. they were killed because they were shooting and they were shot. >> khomeini, do you think? >> only those who have contacted the foreign media. >> said those in his boat to the
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official syrian media are telling the truth, and everyone else is making it up? >> absolutely not, jeremy. i believe there is truth and in every report. however, sometimes parts of the truth is highlighted and other parts are covered up. >> that is it for this week. goodbye. >> funding for this presentation is made possible by -- the --s own foundation, and union bank. >> union bank has put its
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financial strength to work for a wide range of companies. what can we do for you? what can we do for you? >> bbc newsnight
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