By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 23 -- After Inner City Press was summarilyejected from the UN, which it has covered for ten years, on February 19, the ostensibly deciding official Cristina Gallach told no less than Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta that Inner City Press would still be able to cover the UN with the same access as before.
This has proven false: Inner City Press has been Banned from covering meetings on Security Council reform, Next SG selection, Sri Lanka andWestern Sahara, to name a few.
In seeking to for little reason and no due process take away Inner City Press' long time office and Resident Correspondent accreditation, Gallach and UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric have worked with some board members of the UN Correspondents Association, a campaign that included at least two anonymous troll social media accounts followed by Gallach and Dujarric devoted to nothing else than defending the two, and Herve "R&R" Ladsous. (Last time, Media Bistrolinked the similar anti-Press trolls to Reuters and AFP, here.)
They are mad UNCA was exposed as taking indicted Ng Lap Seng's South South News' money and giving Ng a photo with Ban Ki-moon, or in Gallach's case, at being questioned by Inner City Press in October about having attended the South South Awards with Frank Lorenzo who has now pleaded guilty.
But this lawless attempt to seize Inner City Press' long time office and files is illegitimate. Consider for example that one of the UNCA board members, used by Dujarric for a shameless colloquy about Inner City Press' accreditation status on the day Inner City Press was told it was Banned from all UN premises, barely if at all writes any articles: on the website of Pakistan's Daily Dawn it says, "Could Not Find That Page."
So if Inner City Press like him did nothing, wrote nothing, merely collaborated with the UN in attacking more active and less cooperative journalists, it too could continue with an office in Gallach's corrupt UN system.
Under Gallach, tellingly, South South News which was exposed as corrupt at latest in October -- when Inner City Press questioned Gallach, on October 19, video here, as has been timely raised to the UN Ethics Office, she should have recused herself -- has been left with office space, while Inner City Press which most actively pursues the UN corruption story in order to try to clean up and improve the UN is ousted.
Well, no. Beyond further exploration of the links of South South News and the indicted with the UN including Gallach's Department of Public Information, which she is bringing low, it is time to explore "what it takes" in her system to retain office space awarded under her predecessors. It will be, to coin a phrase, a new (Daily) Dawn.
Where for example is Giampaolo Pioli's blog? Dormant since 2011. Or Twitter feed? Other than following his / DPI's troll accounts? Or articles? Other than about Morgan Freeman? Or questions? He rented one of is apartment to Palitha Kohona, then screened Kohona's Sri Lanka war crimes denial film in the UN. Who is bringing the UN low?
On Wall Street, seats with Ban sold for $6,000; Bans and Pioli, at right, credit UN Photo/Amanda Voisard
And if being where a journalist supposedly should be is the pretext to oust Inner City Press without due process, what about those UNCA board members including but not limited to Pioli who have routinely been allowed by the UN to slouch and parade around the so-called Turkish Lounge, where the published rules say they should only go when invited by a diplomat? We'll have more on all this. Watch this site.
When Inner City Press came to the UN on February 22, with another journalist there to sign Inner City Press in as a guest, UN Security said, “You are Banned from the UN.” Audio here.
Inner City Press left the UN pass office, and set up shop in the Isaiah plowshares park across from the UN. Several Permanent Representatives, at least two Under Secretaries General (the same rank as Gallach) and many staff came to express outrage at the UN's censorship.
But in the UN Press Briefing Room, which was "lent" to the UN Correspondents (or Corruption) Association back on January 29, the reaction was different.
In an embarrassing colloquy, long time UNCA board member and Daily Dawn-er Masood Haider asked Spokesman Dujarric about "the blogger Matthew Lee" who has been "spewing on the Internet reports whether false or not." Vine here; Video here; UN transcript here:
UNCA Question: Stéphane, can you please tell us about the blogger, Mr. Matthew Lee, who has been very active on the internet spewing all kinds of reports, whether false or not? What is the status now?
Spokesman: Mr. Lee has available to him a non-resident pass for four months and which, last I heard, he had not claimed, but that's what he has available. I know there were reports that we had “seized his files”. Completely untrue. His office remains untouched. And we await him to return so he can vacate his office. Thank you.
Yeah - thank you for the set-up question to put propaganda in to the UN record.
On February 19 Inner City Press asked to get its passport and most important files but was pushed out onto First Avenue by UN Security Deputy Chief Michael McNulty without either. That's not seized? That's OK?
And the extortionate offer - no access unless with much reduced rights - is entirely disproportionate to the non-existent "crimes," which was to seek to cover an event in this same UN Press Briefing Room, by UNCA which took money from indicted Ng Lap Seng's and Frank Lorenzo's South South News then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon.
UNCA President Giampaolo was there, leaving first from the February 22 Press-less press conference; another UNCA board member slapped Dujarric on the back. Great job!
Bloggers are, of course, hacked to death in Bangladesh, a country on whose free press record USG Gallach never even replied to a detailed email from the Free UN Coalition for Access, for protection for a Bangladeshi journalist then in the UN. Spewing indeed.
Dujarric took the opportunity to deny that the UN had seized Inner City Press' files -- the reality is, when Inner City Press asked on February 19 to take the most important of them, and its passport, it was denied by UN Security. On February 22, UN Security said Inner City Press is Banned from all UN premises.
Dujarric said, as if it's ok, that Inner City Press is being "offered" much reduced access, for four months. But Inner City Press did nothing wrong, and the "investigation" by Gallach which led to its ouster did not involve a single conversation with or reaching out to Inner City Press.
Any reduced access to loss of office space -- which Masood Haider, who hardly writes articles, has, and UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli has, a private office, while writing about Morgan Freeman -- is unfair and is to cast a chill of freedom of the press. No staged colloquy can hide that. We'll have more on this.
Later, after being told to leave even the UN Pass office, a UN Under Secretary General told Inner City Press Gallach had told other USGs that Inner City Press was in fact in the building - that AFTER Inner City Press was told by UN Security, twice, that it is banned from all UN premises and was told to leave the UN Pass office.
Gallach, and Ban Ki-moon and his chief of staff Edmond Mulet to whom Inner City Press wrote on February 19, still without response, has received a legal letter with a
"demand that Mr. Lee be immediately reissued with the resident correspondent accreditation that he has enjoyed for many years. I request these remedies pending an examination of the entire matter by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression or by any other mutually agreed and independent review mechanism.
In reaching the decision to perfunctorily revoke Mr. Lee’s resident correspondent accreditation, a number of accepted principles of natural justice and rules of administrative law were breached. These principles include, inter alia, the right to be informed before the imposition of administrative measures, the right to make representations before being subjected to those measures and the right to appellate review of such measures. Mr. Lee was denied all of these procedural safeguards which are commonplace in most democratic societies and which are routinely
vaunted by the United Nations itself."
As Inner City Press sits in the park across from the UN using its phone as a hot spot -- hence no Periscope -- there has been no response.
Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who'd also told those who questioned him that Inner City Press could end and cover “his” briefing on Monday.
False. UN Security then said, you cannot wait in the pass office, you are banned from all UN premises. Trying to cover the UN Security Council meeting on Syria from the Isaiah plowshares park across from the UN, various Ambassadors came to say they were appalled. But Gallach's office has told then, nothing will be done.
This is disgusting censorship by an increasingly corrupt UN.
As Inner City Press at the UN pursues unfolding stories of corruption, peacekeepers committing rapes in the Central African Republic, UN inaction in Burundi, South Sudan and Yemen, on February 19 with two hours notice UN Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press to be ousted. Letter here.
On the evening of February 19, UN Security Deputy Chief Michael McNulty, who refused to provide his name (audio), pushed Inner City Press out onto First Avenue (audio), having cut off its Periscope video livestream (video) and not allowed it to get its files, coat or passport from its longtime shared office. Gallach wants the office back, to retaliate and so the UN Correspondents Association can, in essence, sell the UN space just as it sells access to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
On February 20, Inner City Press posed four questions to Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, with a copy to Gallach --which 24 hours later have not been answered or even acknowledged (while both Dujarric and Gallach were wildly spinning to those who contacted them, includingNobel Laureate Jose Ramos Horta, see here, who was told there was no problem taking over Inner City Press' office and undermining its ability to report, edit videos, conduct interviews. There is a big problem. Here are the questions:
"Please state the status and condition of all of my papers and property in my office, Room S-303A, including investigative papers, communications from sources including whistleblowers and my passport and when I will have the access to them that I was denied on February 19 and since.
Please state when the Resident Correspondent UN pass I have had for years, but which was torn off my neck on Feb 19, will be returned, in connection with 1, above, and the UNSC meeting(s) and UN Noon Briefing on Monday February 22.
Please state and explain the role of the Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary General in the deprivations in 1 and 2, above.
Finally, for now, please state the Secretary-General's position on UN Security Deputy McNulty on February 19 threatening twice to have me “handed over to NYPD” (including the concomitant acceptance by the UN of the NYPD's jurisdiction), of UN Security officers grabbing my phone which was live-broadcasting Periscope video at the UN Security Council stakeout and turning it off.
I have other questions but these are most pressing, for immediate answer."
And as yet, no answer. Watch this site.
While Inner City Press was writing up a UN Security Council meeting on Syria that went into the evening, and Periscope broadcasting, UN Security guards walked up, grabbed Inner City Press' laptop, blocked its Periscope camera and turned off the livestream. Video here.
Then eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty tore off Inner City Press' UN ID badge and carted off Inner City Press' laptop and camera, returning these by throwing them on the sidewalk of First Avenue. Audio here.
They did not allow Inner City Press to get coat or sweater, or the files in its office. No provision was made for this.
The ejection letter was signed by the Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Galach of Spain but ultimately Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in charge. Ban and his chief of staff Edmond Mulet and Deputy SG Jan Eliasson were all written to with details as this took place.
USG Gallach's office, Darrin Farrant in charge, merely "took note" of questions about and criticism of the lack of due process. Gallach did not respond to email, even from Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, here.
When Inner City Press was thrown out onto First Avenue, standing waiting, laughing and filming, was Voice of America's Margaret Besheer and another board member of the UN Correspondents Association, whose president Giampaoli Pioli told Inner City Press if it didn't remove a (truthful) article about his screening of a war crimes denial film for a tenant of his, Sri Lanka's then ambassador Palitha Kohona, he would get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.
But who is running this asylum? Ban Ki-moon, his spokesman also involved Stephane Dujarric (who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29, also trying to turn off ICP's Periscoping phone), and, some surmise, some who don't like Inner City Press' questions. We'll have more on this.
The pretext was Inner City Press three weeks earlier seeking to cover a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room by an organization which has taken money from now indicted Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo's South SOuth News, then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban.
(As Inner City Press reported, Gallach attended the South South Awards with Frank Lorenzo, photo here, just before his indictment. She should have been recused from any decision-making on this.)
UN Security demanded ICP's pass - and later tore it off.