19/05/2017 World News Today


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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange welcomes the news that Sweden


is dropping its investigation into an alleged rape -


and its attempt to extradite him from the UK:


Seven years without charge, why my children grew up without me. That is


not something that I can forgive. It is not something that I can forget.


But he's not giving up his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy -


we'll ask 'what next for the man the CIA effectively runs a 'hostile


Donald Trump is about to set off on his first overseas


trip as President - we'll look at what's waiting for him


leaders and leaders from across the Arab and Islamic world are waiting


to greet the American President, his first stop on his very first foreign


tour. Voting is extended in


Iran's Presidential election - as polling stations struggle to cope


with an unexpectedly high turn out. closer to stepping down, the


Japanese Cabinet gives its backing to the emperor's desire to abdicate.


Hello and welcome to World News Today.


The founder of the wikileaks website, Julian Assange,


has greeted as a "victory" the news that Swedish prosecutors


are ending their investigation into claims he carried out


Speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London -


where he's taken refuge since 2012 - he said he would not be leaving it,


because he could still be arrested by UK police.


He also insisted that his Wikileaks group would continue with its work.


On the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy


Julian Assange emerged this afternoon to have his say on the end


of the Swedish investigation against him.


Today is an important victory for me and for the UN human rights system.


Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me.


That is not something that I can forgive,


it is not something that I can forget.


But prosecutors in Sweden have not cleared Julian Assange,


they have simply said they can't pursue the case any further.


TRANSLATION: There are now no further measures


remaining which are possible to advance the investigation.


In order to proceed, it would be necessary


for Julian Assange to be formally served notice of the crimes


This was a measure that was to have been conducted during an interview


in London, but Mr Assange refused to make this possible.


This complex international drama began in August 2010 when two


women alleged that Julian Assange had sexually assaulted them


In December that year he was detained in Britain under


In May 2012 the Supreme Court upheld a decision to extradite him


And in June Mr Assange walked into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London


The Metropolitan Police mounted a 24-hour guard at the embassy.


By October 2015 it had cost over ?30 million.


Julian Assange is no longer wanted on an international


arrest warrant but the Metropolitan Police say that if he stepped out


of the embassy they are still obliged to arrest him


for failing to surrender to a London court back in 2012.


At the embassy this evening his supporters were jubilant.


But in Sweden, the woman who accused him of


rape issued a statement saying he was evading justice,


and expressing her shock that the investigation


Julian Assange was not held without charge with for seven years.


He was subject to extradition proceedings with in the EU,


under the European arrest warrant scheme he would have received a fair


trial in Sweden had he chosen to go back.


The reason this has lasted seven years is entirely down to him


seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy rather than going to face


trial in a country that has governed by the rule of law.


The founder of Wikileaks says it was fear that he


would be extradited to the United States for leaking


classified information that drove him through


So despite today's dramatic twist in this long-running diplomatic and


legal saga, tonight he is back inside.


President Trump is due to take off any moment now


on the first foreign trip of his presidency.


It's ambitious - four countries in eight days -


Whilst there he will meet King Salman and attend


a summit of Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh.


It's been quite a week at home for the President,


so the shift from domestic controversies to his foreign policy


Here are some pictures of Saint Andrews Air Force Base. They are


live pictures, this is the facility in Maryland from which President


chump will depart. His nine-day trip include Saudi Arabia, Israel and the


Vatican -- President Trump. Our Chief International


Correspondent Lyse Doucet is live from the Saudi Capital,


Riyadh. It is good to see you. This is an


ambitious trip, what will his message be in Riyadh? Well the


rumours were swirling in the region that President Trump has been


facing, extreme pressure at home over alleged mishandling over


intelligence and could end up cancelling his trip to Riyadh and


his next stop in Israel. We all knew that this trip matters a lot to


President Trump and it certainly matters to the Saudi kingdom. It


will only be hours before the American President makes Riyadh his


first stop on his very first foreign visit. This is a city under tight


security and a city that is pulling out


all the stops to make this a visit like no other. Everywhere you go in


Riyadh, you see the slogan, together we will prevail. A summit, they say


like no other in history. This place is full of superlatives, it is three


summits, and the team with Royal rulers, leaders from the Gulf region


and leaders from across the Arab and Islamic world and for Saudi Arabian


leaders, it is all about turning the page on what they saw as an


infuriating relationship with President Obama and what they saw as


his retreat from the Middle East. They have hailed President Trump


from the start and when I spoke to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister,


I put it to him that it was a bit of a diplomatic coup to claim the first


visit. We believe it is a coup for the world and a coup for peace and


coexistence. This is a very powerful message that America and the West is


not your enemy, it is a powerful message to the west that Islam is


not your enemy. This visit will change the discourse and the


dialogue between the Islamic world and the West in general and for the


West in particular, if will isolate the extremist, whether it is Iran or


Isis or Al-Qaeda who say that the West is our enemy. It will also push


back against those in the West to say that Islam is our enemy. This is


a truly historic occasion. Will this help overcome the suspicions and


anger over the travel ban which was widely described as a Muslim man? I


do not believe... I think the stories about the anger work


exaggerated. Many were angry, but cant -- countries that were on that


list, it was seen as a Muslim ban. We cannot question the right of the


United States or any country to decide who to let in or not let in.


We cannot see any measures as being biased against a particular group of


religion. Islam is part and parcel of the American social fabric, there


are millions of Muslims living in America and most of the Islamic


countries were not on the list. Are you worried about summits that will


emphasise the battle against extremism, the visit could be


overshadowed by the controversies over the alleged mishandling of


intelligence? We deal with the administration, we deal with the


President as our honoured guests and we deal with the 55 delegations that


are coming from the Arab and Muslim world and that is what our focus


will be. Will you make it clear that you have troops ready to offer?


President Trump will want you are going to do if he becomes more


engaged? We have made that clear for almost one year now. There are


troops available from the Islamic Coalition and we are prepared to


share the burden of going after the terrorists, ultimately the


terrorists are after Saudi Arabia. They want to take Mecca and Medina


so they have a platform to block us and we will not allow that to


happen. So that is really the language of this visit, all Ed


Barnard and historic to start and it seems according to sources that some


other historic steps could be taken. Some sources are saying that some


Arab states are now willing to consider tearing down some of the


walls of hatred with their old archenemy is real, starting to


normalise relations with Israel, even before the conflict with the


Palestinians has been resolved, even if this is not a turning point in


the region, certainly what will happen here in Riyadh over the next


few days is going to mark some new departures and coincidentally, it is


all taking place just when Iranians are turning out in huge numbers to


vote for a new President. A crucial time right across this region and


President Trump is going to be very much part of it. Thank you very much


for now. We'll be covering every step


of President Trump's visit - and you can keep right up to date


by following Lyse on Twitter. Her handle is @BBCLyseDoucet -


as you can see, she's already been giving the view in pictures


from Riyadh on the eve Let's take a look at some of


the other stories making the news... Former US congressman Anthony Wiener


has pleaded guilty to sending sexually explicit messages to a


teenage girl. The investigation into the ex-husband of one of Hillary


Clinton's former aides led to the discovery of documents relating to


Mrs Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.


Yemen could have as many as 300 thousand cases of cholera within six


months and an "extremely high" number of deaths, according


Nearly 250 people have died in the past three weeks alone.


The new President of France, Emmanuel Macron says the French


military operation in Mali will continue until the militants


He was met by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita,


to discuss the threat of terrorism in the west African country.


Mr Macron reaffirmed his commitment to helping


The United States military has protested to China after two Chinese


jets intercepted an American aircraft over the East China Sea.


One of the Chinese jets came as close as 45 metres to the US


plane and flew upside down above it, according to US


The US says the plane was on a mission to detect radiation


A high turnout in Iran's presidential election has forced


officials to extend voting by an extra four hours.


The election could set the country's relations with the outside world


with moderate incumbent president Hassan Rouhani facing his strongest


competition from hardliner Ebrahim Raisi who proposes a tougher


The BBC has not been given permission to cover


But our correspondent Jiyar Gol is in Istanbul where many expats


What is the likely result of this high turnout, how will this the


result, do you think? Obviously, so many people here are hopeful that


they get the result they are hoping for. Today from the early morning,


thousands of people stayed in the queue for hours, some of them more


than five hours cast their votes in Istanbul. At one point the reigning


council had ran out of ballot papers and they were forced to fly ballot


papers from Teheran and almost three hours after the official, which was


six o'clock, they extended by three hours and there are still people in


the consulate waiting to cast their ballots. I spoke to many of them,


what is the reason, you have come out to vote today and they said,


their future, the future of their country, they think and they are


hoping that the next President, whoever comes out from the ballot


box takes action and makes sure that the economy improves, make sure the


relationship between Iran and the international community improves and


to be honest, many of them said they have come out, although they are


tourists in this country, spending thousands of dollars, but instead of


spending time at the beach and other places, they have come here and


stayed in the line to make sure that the hard would not win the election.


They were worried, if he wins, he might take Iran back to a previous


era. That is why lots of people came out to vote. Most people here, are


liberal. The reality was, we cannot say this is conflicting in Iran but


what we are hearing from in Iran, it has been the same scene and the


election time has been extended until 11 o'clock Iranians time.


Thank you very much for that. Mehrdad Khonsari is a Senior


Consultant at the Iranian Centre for Policy Studies and a former


Iranian diplomat. Thank you for joining us. Give us an


idea of why this election is so significant? First and foremost, the


most important thing is that we should not go back in time and that


the hopes and aspirations of people should progress. No one in Iran is


who they were 38 years ago and people like to move on from those


revolutionary days, essentially a move towards progress and hope for a


better future, improving the economy and things like that, which means


that Iran's isolation with the economic community, encouraging


investment to go in and all the paraphernalia, that a modern state


requires and that really is what is at stake and so clearly defined in


the positions of the true candidates. One would mean going


back and the other would mean that the forward to a better future. Stay


with us for a moment, because we can go back to the United States and see


live pictures of Donald Trump. He is boarding Air Force One, we were


saying he was due to lift off from St Andrews Air Force Base to go to


Riyadh and this is his first major trip and all eyes are on this trip.


He is due to depart any moment now and this is a nine-day trip which


includes visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican cover the


homes of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, a hugely ambitious


trip, lots of coverage to come over the next few hours. We will bring


you much more on this story, we will be hearing from our international


correspondent, we heard from her earlier, it is a big trip and we


will bring you coverage as the hours go on. Meanwhile there is a big


election going on in Iran and we were speaking to my guest. We were


talking a little about this election and how significant it is, there is


some unhappiness within the country in terms of high unemployment and


difficulties in terms of food and medicine, how will that impact on


the decisions of voters? You have to bear in mind that over the past 38


years, Iran has gone from one crisis to another and the problem is that


the community faces today is a culmination of all these various


crisis is, having an impact on the way life has progressed. The most


important crisis that Iran faced was the nuclear issue. The nuclear issue


praised Iran under sanctions and international pressure. Hassan


Rouhani was able to end that crisis. Having ended it, it did not mean


that all the problems were raised immediately. The hope is on the part


of the population is that issues like unemployment, production and


economy, things like that that improved the daily life of ordinary


people, can progress, with this government that has ended this


important crisis and not to go back to a situation where you start the


new year of confrontation with the West which would aggravate this and


essentially end hope for improvement in the lives of people. Even so


there is support for Ebrahim Raisi, where to think that support comes


from? You have to bear in mind that Iran is a polarised, it is quite


polarised. What has happened, as a consequence of time, the number of


people within the ruling establishment even, who support


people like Ebrahim Raisi are an enormous majority, however, all the


levers of the power in Iran is controlled by that small minority


which Ebrahim Raisi represents. These are the very poor who rely on


government hand-outs and this is what made the previous President


popular with the poorer classes by giving out free money to people,


bonuses and so on. Ebrahim Raisi has promised to treble that amount which


the previous President handed out. The government of Hassan Rouhani is


trying to encourage people to enter into the economy, employment and to


reward them in that fashion. There is a small constituency with in Iran


who are die-hard supporters of the regime and as small as the


constituency within the ruling establishment is, who have backed


Ebrahim Raisi, nonetheless, they control all the levers of power,


essentially making policy in Iran at this time. It is such a fascinating


collection, thank you for being with us. Let


Let's get more now on our top story - the decision by Swedish


prosecutors to shelve a lengthy rape investigation against Wikileaks


Our correspondent Maddie Savage is in Stockholm and joins us now.


what has been the reaction to this fair? Journalists gathered for their


press conference earlier, shocked really at this final conclusion for


seven years of legal wrangling is that Swedish prosecutors say, for


now they are putting their investigation to one side, because


of legal technicalities. Basically saying that Julian Assange is


refusing to come to Sweden and they think they have exhausted all other


possibilities of questioning him and getting further help from the


Ecuadorian authorities who are still holding him in their embassy in


London. Some initial shock, we have been in contact with one of the


alleged victims, a woman who said that Julian Assange raped she says


that he is still guilty in her mind and that he has now lost the


possibility to defend his name and be found innocent. She says that


these allegations are going to stick to him for ever. Earlier her lawyer


also give a statement to the media saying that her client was shocked


and calling it a scandal that a rapist could escape justice. No


immediate reaction regarding exactly how prosecutors have dealt with this


case, but certainly it has been going on for a very long time and


questions will be asked about the time and money and in the context of


this eventual outcome which has not resulted in a prosecution or Julian


sod being found guilty or not guilty. Thank you very much.


The Japanese cabinet has approved a bill paving the way


If, as expected, it is approved by parliament, it will be the first


time an Emperor has stepped down in more than 200 years.


The bill will only apply to Emperor Akihito, and does not


address any of the other issues facing the Japanese royal family,


such as whether girls should be allowed to ascend


Rupert Wingfield-Hayes' report contains flash photography.


It was in this extraordinary television address last year that


83-year-old Emperor Akihito made his plea to be


He said he is old and frail, and fears that he cannot long


TRANSLATION: In coping with the ageing of the Emperor,


I think it is not possible to continue reducing


perpetually the Emperor's acts in matters of state.


Today, Prime Minister Abe and his Cabinet acceded to his wish.


The Emperor and Empress will be allowed to retire,


But this is a one-time deal for him only.


When Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne


on January 1st, 2019, he will still be expected


In Japan, changing the rules of royal succession is,


This week, Emperor Akihito's eldest granddaughter, Princess Mako,


announced her engagement to a commoner.


She cannot inherit the throne, nor can any children she may have.


Of the Emperor's four grandchildren, only ten-year-old Prince Hisahito


TRANSLATION: The number of active male members within the royal family


Plus, when a female member marries a commoner, she's


So the numbers will continue to shrink.


The strange thing is, Japan's people are all in favour of change.


In a recent survey, 59% said they think royal princesses should


society progress in a way that encourages women to freely take


I think more women working will lead to a brighter and happier society.


There have been female emperors in the past,


and societal changes occur along with generations.


But think things should be looked at case by case and flexibly.


As with so many things in Japan, it is not the public or even


the royal family who oppose change, but the men in dark suits


Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, in Tokyo.


That visit family and the goodbye for now.


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