Monday, April 18, 2016
As UN Moves to Evict Inner City Press, UNCA Asserts Control, Steal Exclusives At Will
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- Today's UN, where so many talk about freedom of the press, has a soft spot for its denial.
On February 19 of this year, as Inner City Press pursued the still-expanding corruption scandal of Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng buying General Assembly President John Ashe, and at least a photo op with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Correspondents Association ball, suddenly Under-Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach deactivated its resident correspondents pass and ordered it out.
Now she wants to evict all of Inner City Press' files on April 16, and has already sent staff in without notice - to search them?
She is doing this, she claims, because of a January 29 "incident" in which Inner City Press tried to cover and report on an event in the UN Press Briefing Room by the UN Correspondents Association, which took money from South South News and gave its funding Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban.
On April 15, the last noon briefing before the eviction, the UNCA "dream team" arrived to occupy the entire front row. Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq gave the first question to Reuters' Michelle Nichols -- on April 6 he allowed her to make a statement directed at Inner City Press, that "UNCA is not corrupt" -- and Reuters Lou Charbonneau tried to get the second question too.
Why is Charbonneau so mad? Well, several times he stole exclusives from Inner City Press. In fact he said he has a POLICY of not crediting Inner City Press. Then he went so far as to label a story objectively (in Google News) first published by Inner City Press as his exclusive. When asked why, he said his story was "better." But it wasn't first.
Now UNCA, run by a gentleman who rented one of his apartments to Sri Lanka's Palitha Kohona then unilaterally granted Kohona's request for an UNCA / UN screening of his government's war crimes denial film, is being used to defend, essentially, theft. And Ban's UN, for it own reasons, goes along.
At the April 15 briefing, Inner City Press asked Haq to finally answer when he was asked on April 6, before he allowed Reuters' "UNCA is not corrupt" statement: to confirm Ban's receipt of the Government Accountability Project's letter opposing the eviction as retaliation. Haq said "we are aware" of the letter, but would not say it was "formally' received. They are aware, and for now go foward - even searching files in advance. This is the UN Censorship Alliance, or Corruption Alliance, or both.