Thursday, May 5, 2016

After Evicting Press & Without a FOIA, UN Marks World Press Freedom Day



By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- When Inner City Press on February 19 was told to leave the UN on two hours notice, after covering the organization for ten years, it came as a surprise. But now we know some of what happened behind the scenes, see below.

 Amid what can only be called hypocrisy or to be more diplomatic, irony,' UN Headquarters on May 5 belatedly celebrated World Press Freedom Day. The event was entitled “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This Is Your Right!”

 But the UN has no Freedom of Information procedure, and the head of its Department of Public Information Cristina Gallach has had thrown out of the UN the critical Press asking about her involvement in the UN's Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe bribery scandal. If “This Is Your Right!” where can it be enforced, as to the UN? Gallach allowed no due process, and no appeal.

  Nor did Gallach deign to take any questions. After speechifying about press freedom, she left the event. Her deputy did not allow any Press question on this - there was a single round of three questions for the first panel including Georgia's Kaha Imnadze
 (afterward Inner City Press gave  copy of the Government Accountability Project's letter to Ban Ki-moon about its case to another panelist, UNESCO's Frank LaRue); the second panel was still on introductory statements when time came for the day's noon briefing.

   Again, irony: while DPI made claims about Freedom of Information down in the basement, up in the UN Press Briefing Room, for trying to cover a meeting in which Inner City Press was thrown out, Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to comment on Inner City Press' report about Ban's Secretariat withholding an email about firing a union official.

Inner City Press asked about another GAP critique, for fired whistleblower Miranda Brown; Dujarric said “nothing has changed.”

   Simplest of all, Inner City Press asked again for a list of Ban Ki-moon trips paid for by states or others, and not the UN budget. It has yet to be provided. “Freedom of Information: This Is Your Right!”

   After the noon briefing Inner City Press ran back down to the #WPFD event - but it was already in closing statements, Finland's Ambassador Kai Sauer saying that next year a journalist who has faced restriction by a state or company should be included. How about restriction by the UN?

  On May 2, when Inner City Press with its reduced accreditation had to ask the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit to swipe it through the turnstile to access the second floor and stake out the meetings on UN Security Council reform and ECOSOC's “Integration Segment” with Ban Ki-moon as a speaker, the MALU staffer told UN Security, he has to stay there.

"There" was an area by the couches across from the entrance to the ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council Chambers. Even under these constraints, and with UN Security three times intervening to demand to know why Inner City Press was there -- while other UNCA correspondents strolled by on the way to the Delegates' Lounge with each other -- Inner City Press managed to speak with sources about the upcoming Security Council trip, meeting with Morocco about Western Sahara, and Security Council reform.

 Then came a more Kafka-esque request. “They need to come to you,” Inner City Press was told, referring to the diplomats it had been speaking with. Inner City Press, under this regime of Ban Ki-moon and Cristina Gallach, is not to initiate contact much less ask a question.

   This is targeting. Down the hall, other journalists attempted to approach Security Council diplomats; one UNCA big wig recently bear-hugged a Latin American Permanent Representative who turned around and demanded, Who are you?

  But under the Ban and Gallach regime, the day before World Press Freedom Day, Inner City Press was told not to approach anyone with a question.

And so on World Press Freedom Day May 3, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who implied that anything short of torture is okay, video here,UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  Maybe I'm missing something.  Yesterday with this reduced pass, I went to cover the Secretary-General's discussion in the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Chamber) chamber.  I asked for MALU to come; they came.  I'm getting to the point here.  The point is, number one, even with a MALU escort, I was three times asked by guards what I was doing there with this pass.  And finally I was told I'm not allowed to talk to diplomats there.  I have to wait for them to come and talk to me, which is not really the way a staking out a meeting works.  And so I wanted to know, how… it seemed totally contrary to, one, what other journalists can do, but two, to what journalism is.  Meaning, so these appear to be the restrictions that have been placed on me, and I wanted to know, is that the case?  Was there some misunderstanding, excuse me, on my part?  Or is there some… what am I missing here, that you claim there is a respect for freedom of the press if I'm being stopped three times by guards and being told not to talk to diplomats.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Matthew, I think if there are particular issues, you need to deal with them with MALU.  I think the Secretary-General's message is focused on those journalists who are imprisoned, who are tortured, who are vilified.  I think your issue is one of access and one of accreditation.  So I think they are two separate cases.  You're here.  I patiently answer every question you've asked… you ask.  So again, if there's… if it's a personal issue of access or what a guard may have said to you, I would encourage you to deal with it bilaterally.

Inner City Press:  It seems systematic.  Three times, guards came and said you can't be here and stood in front of me while the Secretary-General walked by.  I understand it's not torture, but I'm saying it is in the UN.

Spokesman:  That's my understanding… Yes.  There are rules and regulations and your pass…  [Cross talk]

Inner City Press:  Why can some journalists…

Spokesman:  Matthew, I'm not going to… I'm not going to…

Inner City Press  I was told, don't ask questions to diplomats.

Spokesman:  Khalas. 

   On May 2 as Ban and his entourage came out of ECOSOC for a 10:40 am meeting with May's Security Council president, Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, suddenly a UN Security guard approached Inner City Press and demanded, “Are you supposed to be here with your pass?”

   Inner City Press pointed at the MALU minder, but the UN Security guard didn't move. His role, it emerged, was to block or “box out” Inner City Press while Ban Ki-moon walked by.

Why? So that no question could be asked?

Inner City Press has covered the UN for ten years. But now in the final year of Ban Ki-moon, which his new censor in chief Cristina Gallach (named in the UN bribery case audit), there is open targeting of the Press, right in front of Ban Ki-moon. We'll have more on this.

The incident used as a pretext in the ouster letter signed by Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press' attempt to cover a January 29 event in the UN Press Briefing Room which was nowhere listed as closed, was the type of principled disagreement about journalistic rights that led Inner City Press to refuse an order to leave a briefing by French President Francois Hollande ostensibly only for the traveling French press.

Inner City Press wasn't thrown out then. But something had and has changed.

  While Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, when asked about the ouster, said “That is not my decision,” those close to him say that this crackdown on the Press was discussed at a meeting of Ban's senior leadership team.

   Ban's waning tenure at the UN is embroiled in scandal not only of peacekeeper rapes under Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous but more dangerously for Ban the scandal of bribery at the UN by Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, of former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and members of Ban's Secretariat.

    The Office of Internal Oversight Services auditoccasioned by the indictment of Ng, Ashe and others who had since pleaded guilty, including Francis Lorenzo of South South News which still under Gallach has its UN office, named Gallach as negligent, at best. See audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b).

 Gallach did no due diligence in allowing Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation to hold a corrupt event in the UN Visitors Lobby, with Ban present. Gallach did no due diligence of Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation sponsoring the UN's slavery memorial.

   Gallach, who had found that some under her in the Department of Public Information whom she had ordered to sign the ouster letter refused to, said that Inner City Press had broken the rules and norms. As time has gone on, she had been unable to specify which rules - in fact, when directly asked she refused to provide a copy of the rule she claims to be relying on.

  Ban heard about the impending ouster of Inner City Press... and did nothing. His supporters point out to Inner City Press that Ban also did not speak in favor of it. We'll have more on this.

   Spain on the other hand, which got Gallach the position, has as part of the leverage it has as a Security Council member during the selection of the next Secretary General decided to drop Gallach and seek to put a different Spanish official in a different, more substantive post: the Office of Disarmament, current run by Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo (who, when asked about the ouster of Inner City Press and how it makes Ban looks, said only, “You have to talk with Cristine”).

   But even if Spain which unwisely put the under-qualified Gallach in the DPI position now sees the error of its ways, the reality is that Ban Ki-moon's UN, in the midst of a corruption scandal, ousted and evicted the critical Press which is pursuing the story.

   As Inner City Press learned more about how Gallach got the position, and how she (mis) used it, the retaliation grew - to the point of throwing Inner City Press' files in the street on April 16, video here. Next, Gallach's staff tore down the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of Room S-303, which opposes censorship, and have until now ignored Inner City Press' formal request regarding its office in S-303. Others said it was on hold, despite French and Moroccan moves. But Gallach is getting more and more desperate and retaliatory, and Ban still claims, despite the above, “That is not my decision.” We'll have more on all this.

To UN, Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau Slams US Seizure of $1.8B in Iran Funds, UN Bans Press Coverage


By Matthew Russell Lee



UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- Nine days after Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif met with America's John Kerry but the UN of Ban Ki-moon banned Inner City Press from covering it, Zarif wrote to Ban about American courts' "ruling that authorized the confiscation of nearly 1.8 billion US Dollars of assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran to the benefit of private litigants."
On May 5, Iran's mission sent to Ban this NAM statement:
"Communiqué by the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement in Rejection of Unilateral Actions by the United States in Contravention of International Law, in Particular the Principle of State Immunity

The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement rejects the illegal practice of the United States in defying international law by allowing and facilitating private plaintiffs to bring civil action before U.S courts against sovereign States, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, leading to the awards of default judgments against them and their national institutions. Legislation by US Congress to pave the way for illegally confiscating foreign assets in the US and the actions by the US government to unlawfully hold them enable U.S courts to issue groundless rulings.
The CoB objects to US defiance to international law through the unilateral waiving of the sovereign immunity of States and their institutions in total contravention of the international and treaty obligations of the United States and under a spurious legal ground that the international community does not recognize. This practice runs counter to the most fundamental principles of international law, in particular the principle of sovereign immunity as one of the cornerstones of the international legal order and a rule of customary international law - a principle whose primacy is recognized by the community of nations, all legal systems and the International Court of Justice and was most recently codified in the United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property.   
The CoB calls upon the  United States of America to respect the principle of State immunity, and reiterates that failing to do so would have adverse implications, including uncertainty and chaos in international relations and the undermining of the rule of law at the international level, and would constitute an international wrongful act, which entails international responsibility.
The CoB seizes this opportunity to reiterate the NAM's call to uphold dialogue and accommodation over coercion and confrontation as well as to promote peaceful settlement of disputes."
Back on April 19 when US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met in the UN on April 19, they each announced they would meet again on April 22 about the JCPOA.
  While this might seem like mechanical news, the UN and its partners in censorship saw fit to make it difficult or impossible for non-favored journalists to cover it. Inner City Press, which until this year being ousted (on February 19, audio here) and then evicted (on April 16, video here and here), was always able to cover events on the UN's second floor, now can't.
 A request to pass through the turnstile was denied, and Media Accreditation, which oversaw and filmed Saturday's eviction, was no help. But here, as fast as Inner City Press could obtain them, are the quotes:
Kerry: "We agreed to – we’re both working at making sure that the JCPOA, the Iran agreement – nuclear agreement – is implemented in exactly the way that it was meant to be and that all the parties to that agreement get the benefits that they are supposed to get out of the agreement.  So we worked on a number of key things today, achieved progress on it, and we agreed to meet on Friday.  After the signing of the climate change agreement, we will meet again to sort of solidify what we talked about today."
  Zarif confirmed, “We focused on how we will implement the JCPOA. We meet again on Friday.”
   But why would the UN evict and restrict reporters, for their coverage? The ouster and eviction were ordered by Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, with a conflict of interest as she appears in the UN's Ng Lap Seng case audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b); Ban Ki-moon told Inner City Press, "That is not my decision." We'll have more on this.
When the US dramatically called for a UN Security Council meeting about Iran's ballistic missile launch, outside the Council Iran distributed a written statement, while Israel's Danny Danon and then Samantha Power spoke.
  Iran's statement said, "Security Council resolution 2231 does not prohibit legitimate and conventional military activities, nor does international law disallow them. Iran has never sought to acquire nuclear weapon and never will in the future, as it fully honours its commitment under the NPT and the JCPOA. Consequently, Iran's missiles are not and could not be designed for delivery of unconventional weapons. We reject arbitrary interpretation of the provisions of Security Council resolution 2231 and its annexes, and call upon all parties to act in good-faith and refrain from provocations."
 Danny Danon had a exhibit, a photo of launching missile. Inner City Press asked him if he though Ban Ki-moon is "letting it all hang out" in his final year (including though the ouster of Inner City Press, petition here); Danon said they don't always agree, but they talk.
 Samantha Power took a single question, from AP. Inner City Press asked, audibly, if she is aware of the Government Accountability Project letter to her Mission, here.We'll have more on this.
  The UN Secretariat's bungling of Yemen mediation has become ever more clear, according to multiple sources and documents exclusively seen by Inner City Press, see below. 
 In the UN Security Council on the Yemen sanctions resolution adopted on February 24, language was added to try to discourage the Panel of Experts from looking into the act of the Saudi-led Coalition. Concessions were made, of a kind not made for or about other countries under sanctions.
  (Inner City Press had to follow the process from outside the UN, literally, the park on 43rd Street across First Avenue, because only days after Inner City Press asked why the UN was so quiet about false claims of Iranian military equipment in a UN WFP aid ship, Inner City Press was summarily thrown out of the UN, and Banned, without due process.Petition here.)
 On March 1, back in on a reduced access pass, Inner City Press asked UN OCHA official John Ging about taking "aid" money from Saudi Arabia while it blasts away at Yemen. Video here.
 Ging said these two are "ring fenced," and that the UN doesn't allow Saudi Arabia to put conditions on aid or where it is delivered.

  Inner City Press asked, what about the Saudi threat that aid workers should leave Houthi-controlled areas? Ging said the UN had pushed back.
But quietly, as was the case with the Saudi diversion of the WFP ship. Does money talk?  Apparently yes. 
The Yemen "government," which under UN rules could hold a press conference for all journalists in the UN Press Briefing Room, has instead chosen to invited only members of the Gulf and Western media dominated UN Correspondents Association to a spin session. We've put the leaked invitation online here; here's some of the text:
Dear Colleagues,

UNCA is extending an invitation sent from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Yemen, to a light breakfast briefing with a public diplomacy delegation on their visit to New York to discuss the current political situation in Yemen, on Tuesday, March 8th at 9:00am at the mission (413 East 51st street). Please see the attached invitation to RSVP.

Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President
The focus of the annexed invitation is on "IHL and HRL violations of the Houthi - Saleh rebels." This is UNCA: this is how the UN works, or doesn't.
On March 3, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq why UN OCHA official Stephen O'Brien said he was "pleased" when Saudi Arabia, which funds O'Brien's Yemen appeal, continues to hold the UN's "humanitarian IT equipment" at least under March 6, after Yemen's Ambassador - sure to be present at the spoon-fed breakfast for UNCA - said was Iranian military equipment.

  UNCA played a role in the UN's ouster of Inner City Press, and is now linked to at least two anonymous troll Twitter accounts trying to defend the ouster. This too is how the UN works: UN Censorship Alliance.
 This same UNCA board in December 2015 offered up seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6,000, after arranging for indicted Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban. Covering the organization is entirely legitimate, whatever the UN says, now more than ever with the spoonfed breakfast of Yemen spin.
 On February 28, Ban Ki-moon but not his invisible envoy issued a canned statement about the previous day's airstrike:
"The Secretary-General... calls for a prompt and impartial investigation of this incident."
  Ban's call for an impartial investigation rings hollow, when he has allowed his Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach to oust Inner City Press, which reports on Yemen, based on an "investigation" which never even SPOKE to Inner City Press. This incongruity, and its consequences, has been raised directly to Ban and his most senior advisers. Impartial?
Previously: Inner City Press obtained UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's documents for the delayed talks in Switzerland, and exclusively put them online here.

Ban Ki-moon UN Scandals Include Pension Fund, Beyond Ng Lap Seng and Censorship


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, there is continuity to that UN scandal. So too with the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, now under Sergio Arvizu and Ban Ki-moon's direct representative Carolyn "Hedge Fund" Boykin, see below. 
Inner City Press focused on the bribery scandal in its lone round of questions to UN Under Secretary General for Management Yukio Takasu on May 4, but updates on the Pension Fund decay, below.
   As UN officials including Cristina Gallach, whose involvement in the scandal is detailed in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit at Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) have moved to evict Inner City Press  from the UN premises (video here) and restrict its access, Inner City Press on May 4 asked UN Under Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu about two portions of the OIOS audit. Video here. 
Takasu has been petitioned to reign in Sergio Arvizu from a Gallach-like power grab; recently the Department of Management reported to staff that Arzu is working to fix the months-long backlog in starting to pay benefits. 
This is contested -- "the backlog was only reduced by 7%, a fifth of the 36% claimed by management. On current trends it will take 14 months to clear the backlog" -- and so like on Gallach's Press eviction, Ban Ki-moon is petitioned. But Ban just flies around the world collecting honorary degrees and, apparently, hoping these scandals can be kept under wraps until he leaves, with an eye to a final sinecure. Ban is being mis-advised. Pro tip: censorship is not the way to go out.
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How was indicted Ng Lap Seng's Global Sustainability Foundation's “sponsorship” of the UN slavery memorial opening event, featuring Ban Ki-moon, accounted for in the UN budget?
  Takasu gamely said that “in-kind” contributions are not quantified or listed. If so, how many other events did Ng Lap Seng entities sponsor? Inner City Press asked how Takasu's Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Central Support Services allowed Ng Lap Seng's June 30, 2015 event in the UN Vistitors Lobby, also with no due diligence by Gallach's DPI, to go forward. Things slip between the cracks, Takasu said, indicating that he would like to tighten things up. 
 So how much more slipped through the cracks? And how was Gallach allowed -- or encouraged -- to retaliate against the Press which is pursuing and asking about this story? Given that Gallach clearly should have recused itself, when will Inner City Press be restored to its shared office and Resident Correspondent accreditation status?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

UN Corruption: Inner City Press Asks USG Yukio Takasu If Ng Lap Seng's "Sponsorships" With Cristina Gallach's DPI Were In UN Budget


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, there is continuity to this UN scandal.
   As UN officials including Cristina Gallach, whose involvement in the scandal is detailed in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit at Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) have moved to evict Inner City Press  from the UN premises (video here) and restrict its access, Inner City Press on May 4 asked UN Under Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu about two portions of the OIOS audit. Video here. 
How was indicted Ng Lap Seng's Global Sustainability Foundation's “sponsorship” of the UN slavery memorial opening event, featuring Ban Ki-moon, accounted for in the UN budget?
  Takasu gamely said that “in-kind” contributions are not quantified or listed. If so, how many other events did Ng Lap Seng entities sponsor? Inner City Press asked how Takasu's Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Central Support Services allowed Ng Lap Seng's June 30, 2015 event in the UN Vistitors Lobby, also with no due diligence by Gallach's DPI, to go forward. Things slip between the cracks, Takasu said, indicating that he would like to tighten things up. 
 So how much more slipped through the cracks? And how was Gallach allowed -- or encouraged -- to retaliate against the Press which is pursuing and asking about this story? Given that Gallach clearly should have recused itself, when will Inner City Press be restored to its shared office and Resident Correspondent accreditation status?
Inner City Press On May 2 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if any of the OIOS recommendations due April 30 had been implemented. No information has been provided. From the UN transcript:
 Inner City Press: on the audit, not the UNDP one that has not been released but on the OIOS UN audit — of the seven recommendations, four of them were to have been implemented with documentation by 30 April including the assignment of responsibility for the changing of the document by the Secretariat’s DGACM (Department of General Assembly and Conference Management), the acceptance of gifts by Secretariat staff, I could go through the other two… So I'm asking you, have these been implemented and, if so, will the documentation be made public in the spirit of transparency?

Spokesman:  I have no doubt the concerned departments have been following up with OIOS.  If I have something to share, I will.
 
 Nothing. Inner City Press on April 29 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman  Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here:
Inner City Press: just for a simple statement… if the UN finds that a UN-paid staff member in the office of the PGA (President of the General Assembly) in fact erroneously or fraudulently had an A visa, a diplomat's visa for purposes of immunity, what does the UN do?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Matthew, I'm not going to go into hypotheticals.  We expect all UN staff members to abide by the rules, and if they don't, there are sanctions according to policy...  
Inner City Press: I end up asking you questions that you didn't ask from yesterday.  There were four or three that you said you’d get back.  This is the third.  The third has to do with is the position of the head of UNIC (United Nations Information Centre) in Brussels, a D1 or D2 position, to your knowledge?

Spokesman Dujarric:  To my knowledge, it's a D1 position.

Inner City Press:  Right.  So what would explain a person leaving a D2 position in New York for a D1 position in Brussels?

Spokesman:   Because… You know what?  I don't want to get into personal issues of people, but sometimes people make career decisions based on all sorts of different things.  I'm sure you do and I do.  Thank you.
  What the UN did not transcribe, and in fact cut from its audio, was Dujarric saying, "Matthew, that's a f*cking stupid question." But Vine here. We'll have more on this. 

On April 28, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here:
Inner City Press: This is related to the John Ashe case.  When people work in the PGA's office and they work for the UN, but they work for the PGA's office, are they supposed to have a G4 visa or an “A” diplomat visa?  There's a reason I'm asking this.  Some people are seconded, and supposedly, they can have then an A visa, which gives much greater immunity.  Some people are paid by the UN, and I wanted to get an answer from you whether G4…

Spokesman Dujarric:  If they are UN staff, then I would assume they're under G4 visas…

Inner City Press:  What happens if… what if somebody is a UN staff that, for some reason, for some erroneous reason, happened to have an A visa?  Would this give them immunity?

Spokesman:  I don't know.  I don't know.
  Dujarric did not come back with an answer, but should have. Inner City Press is exclusively informed that the UN allowed “visa games” in the case of John Ashe's chief of staff Paulette Bethel, who is now in the Cabinet of current PGA Mogens Lykketoft and is being lobbied to continue, with immunity, with the *next* PGA (more on that in a separate forthcoming exclusive story).
   Bethel had been an Ambassador with an “A” diplomatic visa, full diplomatic immunity. But while working for Ashe, Ban's UN paid her. Still she arranged to have an “A” visa -- significant given the corruption in which her Office was allegedly involved in.
   Now, the sources tell Inner City Press, there is a review of how Ban Ki-moon's UN has allowed for abuse of the visa (and immunity) system. On this, too, we will have more.
Back on March 11, Inner City Presreported and asked this:
  By having her position with Lykketoft, Paulette Bethel continues to have immunity. Ban Ki-moon has not waived it, despite the portrait painted of her the John Ashe indictment. She “knows where the bodies are buried,” as the phrase has it.
  And perhaps for that reason, Inner City Press is multiply informed that Bethel is lobbying for a continued immunity job with the NEXT President of the General Assembly, whether from Cyprus or Fiji.
  In fact, Inner City Press is informed, both candidates to succeed Lykketoft as PGA, Cyprus and Fiji, was lobbied to keep Bethel on -- as a D2, with full immunity -- if they win the job, and were promised (the same) votes if they do. 
Now, Inner City Press is informed of new (March 11) developments regarding Paulette Bethel's immunity status.
  For now, what does this mean? Well -- did Lykketoft make the same corrupt deal? Why WOULD Lykketoft, claiming to be so different from John Ashe, keep Ashe's chief of staff on his team? Even Banned from the UN second floor where Lykketoft's office -- used to campaign for Helle Thorning-Schmidt, as Inner City Press exclusively covered -- we'll have more on this. Here.
On March 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric -- who among other things has refused to answer on lending UN Press Briefing Room, in which indictee Frank Lorenzo appeared without being listed in the Media Alert -- about this.
 Video here UN transcript here
Inner City Press: I want to return to the indictment of John Ashe, I'd asked you before, but I have more to ask about it, that the previous Chief of Staff of John Ashe, Paulette Bethel, is currently the number three official in Mogens Lykketoft's office.  And as Chief of Staff, she's listed throughout the indictment and charge sheet in the John Ashe case. I've also become aware that there's requests being made to potential new PGAs (Presidents of the General Assembly), Cyprus and Fiji, to continue her in the employment as a D-2 UN official. If a person is a UN staff member but works for the PGA's office, one, what is the status of their immunity from prosecution and testifying?  And, two, who can waive that immunity?  Is it the Secretary-General, as with other UN staff, or is there some special status for a UN staff member who works for the PGA's office?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Look, speaking not in relation to the particular case that you mentioned, because her employment and the employment of anybody in the PGA's office is up to the PGA itself, the Secretary-General has the authority to lift the immunity of any UN staff member.

Inner City Press:  Does it seem strange to you that someone listed so prominently in the indictment remains on the UN payroll? Can you describe the immunity that that obtains?  If, for example, the US Attorney's Office wanted to speak to a Chief of Staff who went to Macau, who was involved in all of these actions…

Spokesman:  I'm not going to speak to… I can't speculate…

Inner City Press:  D-2, D-2 generally.

Spokesman:  I can't speculate to the case.  I don't… I'm not privy to anything that the US Attorney may or may not be doing.  What is clear is that anyone, as far as I know, under the rank of Assistant Secretary-General, which would include D-2s, such as myself, carries functional immunity.  As a matter of principle, immunity is not there to block any criminal investigation.  Maggie?

Voice of America:  Steph, anything on Mr. de Mistura's smaller conversations 
Yes, smaller conversations... There is a history, here.
 After being thrown out of the UN on two hours notice by Under Secretary General for DPI Cristina Gallach on February 19, on March 10 back in on a "non resident correspondent" "Green P" pass, Inner City Press was ordered out of the UN at 8 pm, here, as it worked on this story -- here's an Inner City Press story on Bethel and Ban Ki-moon's connection to the scandal -- in the UN Lobby. 
 UNder this kind of harassment, intimidation and attempted censorship, there is only one approach: publish, publish, publish. If Bethel didn't have the immunity that comes with a UN D-2 post, what might she testify to? Who could waive her immunity?
  The new Free UN Coalition for Access -- whose sign USG Cristina "The Censor" Gallach directed to be torn down after she evicted Inner City Press from its long-time office -- seeks to open the UN and these processes - watch this site.

Audit Shows UNDP Paid Two in President of the General Assembly's Office, Inner City Press Asks What Follow Up, None?


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, there is continuity to this UN scandal. Some of it is through UNDP, the UN Development Program, see below.
  Inner City Press in October 2015 repeatedly raised that Ashe's chief of staff Paulette A. Bethel of the Bahamas was and is current PGA Mogens Lykketoft's “Special Adviser, Coordination and Engagement,” at the senior D2 level. The response on April 29 from the UN was... profanity.
   As UN officials including Under Secretary General for "Communications" Cristina Gallach, whose involvement in the scandal is detailed in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit at Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) have moved to evict Inner City Press  from the UN premises (video here) and restrict its access, Inner City Press on May 2 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if any of the OIOS recommendations due April 30 had been implemented.No information has been provided. 
On May 3 Inner City Press asked again, and spokesman Dujarric said while he had no documentation of any implementation by Ban Ki-moon's Secretariat of OIOS' recommendations, the delayed UNDP audit was now available. While the most recent audit on UNDP's website two hours later was still about Kenya, released April 16, Inner City Press has obtained and for ease put online the UNDP audit, here.
   It says the $1.5 million given in May 2015 was mis-accounted for, seemingly intentionally so.  “The Chairman of the donor was charged by the US Federal authorities. The donor risk assessment... was ineffective.” That's an UNderstatement. But UNDP still has the money, or at least $1.1 million of it. And former UNDP-SS Director Yiping Zhou doesn't return UNDP's calls, according to the audit. 
  Meanwhile UNDP's Helen Clark has taken off on a trip campaigning to replace Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked Dujarric who is paying, and he said, “Ask UNDP.” Inner City Press asked for a UNDP press conference; the date is not yet clear.
  There were bogus secondments to UNOPS in order to get promotions; the audit mentions “SS-GATE” which Inner City Press has previously covered, but the audit does not name names.
   Ng Lap Seng's money was used for conferences not only in his native Macau ($225,000) but also in Dhaka ($122,000), according to the audit. The audit team's Googling found the Ng Lap Seng - Clintons connection, but the UNDP-South South office claimed it didn't find these, or any other adverse material.
  Two UNDP-SS contract holders were, in fact, working in the Office of the President of the General Assembly. 
On May 4, Inner City Press asked UN (and former UNDP) spokesman Stephane Dujarric about this audit and follow-up. From the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you actually about the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) audit, it seems like this was completed by its own terms in November, like it was, been completed for a very long time, so what took so long to release it?  Have the recommendations, which it said it recommended as to be done in February and March, been done?  And it also mentions that the UNDP South-South office was paying, had two contractors within the Office of the President of the General Assembly, it doesn't say whether it was under John Ashe or Sam Kutesa, but what I am wondering is it doesn't say about assigning accountability.  Who in the UN system is going to find out how it was that UNDP South-South erroneously, according to the audit, was paying people in the…?
Spokesman Dujarric:  I think, you know, the mechanics of the audit, that is a question for UNDP Audit Office or South-South.  It's not what I'm going to get into here.  I think the audit uncovered a lot of issues that had occurred under the previous head of the office.  And I know the current head of the office is very much focused on implementing the recommendations and most, a lot of them… some of them have already been implemented.
Inner City Press:  It says that the previous, at least it says right at the beginning of the audit the previous director, Mr. Yiping, didn't… Yiping Zhou didn't return the phone call of the auditor.  So I'm wondering in the UN system, when somebody leaves with this kind of a mess and then refuses to even respond to phone calls, is there any repercussions, or is he basically…?
Spokesman Dujarric:  I think there is a moral responsibility, but there is no other pressure points for us.
  Really?

 From the May 2 briefing UN transcript:
 Inner City Press: on the audit, not the UNDP one that has not been released but on the OIOS UN audit — of the seven recommendations, four of them were to have been implemented with documentation by 30 April including the assignment of responsibility for the changing of the document by the Secretariat’s DGACM (Department of General Assembly and Conference Management), the acceptance of gifts by Secretariat staff, I could go through the other two… So I'm asking you, have these been implemented and, if so, will the documentation be made public in the spirit of transparency?

Spokesman:  I have no doubt the concerned departments have been following up with OIOS.  If I have something to share, I will.
 
 Nothing. Inner City Press on April 29 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman  Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here:
Inner City Press: just for a simple statement… if the UN finds that a UN-paid staff member in the office of the PGA (President of the General Assembly) in fact erroneously or fraudulently had an A visa, a diplomat's visa for purposes of immunity, what does the UN do?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Matthew, I'm not going to go into hypotheticals.  We expect all UN staff members to abide by the rules, and if they don't, there are sanctions according to policy...  
Inner City Press: I end up asking you questions that you didn't ask from yesterday.  There were four or three that you said you’d get back.  This is the third.  The third has to do with is the position of the head of UNIC (United Nations Information Centre) in Brussels, a D1 or D2 position, to your knowledge?

Spokesman Dujarric:  To my knowledge, it's a D1 position.

Inner City Press:  Right.  So what would explain a person leaving a D2 position in New York for a D1 position in Brussels?

Spokesman:   Because… You know what?  I don't want to get into personal issues of people, but sometimes people make career decisions based on all sorts of different things.  I'm sure you do and I do.  Thank you.
  What the UN did not transcribe, and in fact cut from its audio, was Dujarric saying, "Matthew, that's a f*cking stupid question." But Vine here. We'll have more on this. 

On April 28, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here:
Inner City Press: This is related to the John Ashe case.  When people work in the PGA's office and they work for the UN, but they work for the PGA's office, are they supposed to have a G4 visa or an “A” diplomat visa?  There's a reason I'm asking this.  Some people are seconded, and supposedly, they can have then an A visa, which gives much greater immunity.  Some people are paid by the UN, and I wanted to get an answer from you whether G4…

Spokesman Dujarric:  If they are UN staff, then I would assume they're under G4 visas…

Inner City Press:  What happens if… what if somebody is a UN staff that, for some reason, for some erroneous reason, happened to have an A visa?  Would this give them immunity?

Spokesman:  I don't know.  I don't know.
  Dujarric did not come back with an answer, but should have. Inner City Press is exclusively informed that the UN allowed “visa games” in the case of John Ashe's chief of staff Paulette Bethel, who is now in the Cabinet of current PGA Mogens Lykketoft and is being lobbied to continue, with immunity, with the *next* PGA (more on that in a separate forthcoming exclusive story).
   Bethel had been an Ambassador with an “A” diplomatic visa, full diplomatic immunity. But while working for Ashe, Ban's UN paid her. Still she arranged to have an “A” visa -- significant given the corruption in which her Office was allegedly involved in.
   Now, the sources tell Inner City Press, there is a review of how Ban Ki-moon's UN has allowed for abuse of the visa (and immunity) system. On this, too, we will have more.
Back on March 11, Inner City Presreported and asked this:
  By having her position with Lykketoft, Paulette Bethel continues to have immunity. Ban Ki-moon has not waived it, despite the portrait painted of her the John Ashe indictment. She “knows where the bodies are buried,” as the phrase has it.
  And perhaps for that reason, Inner City Press is multiply informed that Bethel is lobbying for a continued immunity job with the NEXT President of the General Assembly, whether from Cyprus or Fiji.
  In fact, Inner City Press is informed, both candidates to succeed Lykketoft as PGA, Cyprus and Fiji, was lobbied to keep Bethel on -- as a D2, with full immunity -- if they win the job, and were promised (the same) votes if they do. 
Now, Inner City Press is informed of new (March 11) developments regarding Paulette Bethel's immunity status.
  For now, what does this mean? Well -- did Lykketoft make the same corrupt deal? Why WOULD Lykketoft, claiming to be so different from John Ashe, keep Ashe's chief of staff on his team? Even Banned from the UN second floor where Lykketoft's office -- used to campaign for Helle Thorning-Schmidt, as Inner City Press exclusively covered -- we'll have more on this. Here.
On March 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric -- who among other things has refused to answer on lending UN Press Briefing Room, in which indictee Frank Lorenzo appeared without being listed in the Media Alert -- about this.
 Video here UN transcript here
Inner City Press: I want to return to the indictment of John Ashe, I'd asked you before, but I have more to ask about it, that the previous Chief of Staff of John Ashe, Paulette Bethel, is currently the number three official in Mogens Lykketoft's office.  And as Chief of Staff, she's listed throughout the indictment and charge sheet in the John Ashe case. I've also become aware that there's requests being made to potential new PGAs (Presidents of the General Assembly), Cyprus and Fiji, to continue her in the employment as a D-2 UN official. If a person is a UN staff member but works for the PGA's office, one, what is the status of their immunity from prosecution and testifying?  And, two, who can waive that immunity?  Is it the Secretary-General, as with other UN staff, or is there some special status for a UN staff member who works for the PGA's office?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Look, speaking not in relation to the particular case that you mentioned, because her employment and the employment of anybody in the PGA's office is up to the PGA itself, the Secretary-General has the authority to lift the immunity of any UN staff member.

Inner City Press:  Does it seem strange to you that someone listed so prominently in the indictment remains on the UN payroll? Can you describe the immunity that that obtains?  If, for example, the US Attorney's Office wanted to speak to a Chief of Staff who went to Macau, who was involved in all of these actions…

Spokesman:  I'm not going to speak to… I can't speculate…

Inner City Press:  D-2, D-2 generally.

Spokesman:  I can't speculate to the case.  I don't… I'm not privy to anything that the US Attorney may or may not be doing.  What is clear is that anyone, as far as I know, under the rank of Assistant Secretary-General, which would include D-2s, such as myself, carries functional immunity.  As a matter of principle, immunity is not there to block any criminal investigation.  Maggie?

Voice of America:  Steph, anything on Mr. de Mistura's smaller conversations 
Yes, smaller conversations... There is a history, here.
 After being thrown out of the UN on two hours notice by Under Secretary General for DPI Cristina Gallach on February 19, on March 10 back in on a "non resident correspondent" "Green P" pass, Inner City Press was ordered out of the UN at 8 pm, here, as it worked on this story -- here's an Inner City Press story on Bethel and Ban Ki-moon's connection to the scandal -- in the UN Lobby. 
 UNder this kind of harassment, intimidation and attempted censorship, there is only one approach: publish, publish, publish. If Bethel didn't have the immunity that comes with a UN D-2 post, what might she testify to? Who could waive her immunity?
  The new Free UN Coalition for Access -- whose sign USG Cristina "The Censor" Gallach directed to be torn down after she evicted Inner City Press from its long-time office -- seeks to open the UN and these processes - watch this site.