By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 7 -- Why is the UN so defensive about its probe(s) into chemical weapons in Syria? Video here from Minute 15:12.
On Tuesday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky did not answer Inner City Press' questions on whether Ban's prober Ake Sellstrom had received the information cited by Geneva-based rights prober Carla Del Ponte.
Instead, Nesirky pulled out of a file a print out, and criticized Inner City Press' blog of the night before, which ran in full a response from his office, minutes after it was received, and noted
"it sure doesn't say that Sellstrom will consider the evidence his fellow UN system prober Del Ponte has and cited to. Last week, Nesirky told Inner City Press that Sellstrom would be willing to look at video footage collected by Russian state TV reporter Anastasia Popova. Why consider that, and not information from another UN system body? SHOULD these two inquiries be UNrelated?"
These might seem like fair questions: should two UN system inquiries be consider "unrelated"? Getting more concrete, should Sellstrom simply wait and see what information is submitted to him? Or, at least in the case of information publicly cited by another UN system official, should he reach out and request the information?
Nesirky after reading from Inner City Press blog not only would not answer if Sellstrom has received the information to which Del Ponte cited -- he would not answer if Sellstrom or Ban Ki-moon will EVER say if this information was received and considered. Video here from Minute 15:12.
That goes or will go directly to the credibility of Sellstrom's report to Ban, and Ban's report to member states. So why get so angry that the question is asked? Nesirky ended the briefing and left, not allow other questions Inner City Press (and others, we assume) had prepared to ask.
These included questions refused by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, whose spokesman Kieran Dwyer on "World Press Freedom Day" cited Inner City Press' "blog posts" as the reason Ladsous won't answer. Video here. What next? Watch this site.
Footnote: Regarding the information or video footage of Russian state media reporter Anastasia Popova, after Inner City Press reported on her offer of proof, anonymous social media accounts associated by the UN Correspondents Association and Reuters immediately falsely accused Inner City Press of being in the pay of the Assad government of Syria, just as they've made false allegation about the defunct Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, which led to death threats.
This is the context. We'll have more on this.