Editor’s Note: CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour joined Lesley Stahl this morning for a wOw exclusive interview, in which these incredible journalists cover topics ranging from reporting on the crisis in Iran to the counterintuitively dominant role of women there to Christiane’s Iranian upbringing with her “accidental refugee” family. Read on.
LESLEY STAHL: Christiane, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I understand that you were in Iran and basically got thrown out. Is that true?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Well, look, the way it works is the Iranian officials give you a work permit. It usually lasts either a week or ten days. So I stayed for about ten days and I was asked to leave as it expired. You know, obviously CNN is a very visible, very sensitive news organization over there. So it’s closely monitoring, you know, everything we do and everything we say. And you probably noticed, in the last week or so, our correspondent on the ground has been banished from reporting, and also the government there, the foreign ministry there yesterday held a government-sponsored press conference accusing CNN and the BBC and others of promoting unrest. And this was obviously something that we at the network reject categorically. But it doesn’t offer restrictions on what we’re able to do.
LESLEY: Well obviously you’re watching the situation. You’re in London right now. I want to know your read. It’s the morning of Tuesday, June 23. What’s your read of what you’re seeing right now? Is this thing fizzling out in your opinion?
CHRISTIANE: Well, look, I’m not going to make a judgment … because you never know what could happen and what could spark anything. And as a reporter I prefer to just tell you what we saw. What we saw was extraordinary – unprecedented in 30 years. A lot of my reporting, which I’ve done over the years, suggests that the young people in Iran really do want their voice to be heard. And the truth of the matter is, this did not start as an attempt at revolution. In fact, many people in the West who would like to see regime change, including your own United States government, have always been frustrated and wondered what it is. Why is it that the people of Iran rise up against their government? The truth is, the so-called Green Movement, the Mousavi Movement, was all about reform from within. Mousavi himself is one of the establishment, a longtime revolutionary who was prime minister during some of the most difficult years during the Iran-Iraq war. I think that he is simply the vehicle for the young people’s frustration, for their desire for freedom, for their desire for reform. And who knows where it’s going to end? But if you compare it to the revolution in 1979, they had a leader. His name was Ayatollah Khomeini. He was exiled and he led the revolution from outside, and he tapped into what was a popular revolt. This right now is not that, at this precise moment.
LESLEY: What about the women? I am so struck by how the face of this current movement, more than any other factor, is dominated by women. Obviously this young girl who was killed, Neda Soltani, but also Mousavi’s wife, who campaigned with him, is a major figure, and was a university chancellor at some point. Even Rafsanjani’s daughter, who was arrested. How big is the women’s movement, first of all, in Iran? And how much of a factor have they been in keeping this going?