Friday, May 20, 2016

While Ban Ki-moon's Kim Won-soo Claims Korea Trip Not Political, Others See Ng, Eviction Link

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- Soon to be ex-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is heading to his native South Korea, where there is a Presidential election in 2017. On May 19, only to South Korean correspondents, Ban Ki-moon's senior adviser Kim Won-soo said and was quoted that Ban's is NOT a political trip. Thou doth protest too much. 
While reports of Mr Kim's download don't mention that he is no longer deputy chief of staff but instead head of Disarmament, another senior Ban administration official more loyal (as they should be) to the UN than Ban tells Inner City Press it seems clear Ban is considering a run in South Korea and that what is is doing and not doing at and through the UN these days is "all about that."  
Ban wants to be sure not to be connected to the major and expanding UN bribery scandal that as occurred on his watch. Indictments, guilty pleas, inconvenient pictures of Ban with Francis Lorenzo, John Ashe and even Ng Lap Seng. 
A number of people in the UN directly connect Ban's ouster and eviction of Inner City Press, which has asked about nepotism (see, the son in law runnig UNFPA Kenya, and the nephew who worked for the company managing UNDP's building, and promising more) to a desire to prevent or discourage coverage of and inquiry into Ban's role in the Ng Lap Seng scandal. 
Ban and his team try to deflect this by saying, as Kim Won-soo has, that it is all Cristina Gallach, you have to talk to Cristina - how? 
Others have noted that while Ban quickly moved to apologize when a (Korean) reported was jostled at the South Korean mission, he has had nothing to say about Gallach's oust and eviction orders, the physical ouster of Inner City Press from the UN, audio here, and dumping of five boxes of its files on First Avenue. Others note that Ban has had the South Korean mission write speeches he has delivered as "UN" Secretary General. More on this to follow.
For ten years as Inner City Press covered the UN in ever greater detail, showing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Herve Ladsous' inept overseeing and cover up of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepersdisparate treatment in Mali, dalliance with genocide in Sri Lanka and prospectively Burundi, impunity for cholera deaths in Haitiand until now for UN lead poisoning in Kosovo and cravenly pro-Saudi position on Yemen amid the airstrikes, it was never thrown out of the UN. 
Now it has been, and even as groups like the Government Accountability Project tell Ban to reverse the eviction and give Inner City Press back its long time office and Resident Correspondent pass, Ban's UN tellingly move to award Inner City Press' office to Egypt state media Al-Akhbar / Akhbar Elyoum.  Tweeted photograph here.
On May 19, a sign for "Al Akhbar Yom" went up on Inner City Press' office - Inner City Press has STILL never seen the correspondent being given the stolen office. The UN says Resident Correspondents must be at the UN three days a week, but Inner City Press has never seen this person, former UN Correspondents Association president Sanaa Youssef, much less asking a question in the UN noon briefing. 
Scribes speaking off the record according to the New York Times of May 14 "accused [ICP] of printing gossip, rumors." That UNCA's president rented an apartment to Palitha Kohona then granted his request to screenin the UN his government's war crimes denial film is no rumor or gossip. 
But Akhbar Elyom, to which Gallach's and Ban's MALU and UNCA have given Inner City Press' office, not only gets journalists in Egypt attested - it targets, with a "Muslim Brotherhood" smear, a journalist who works right in the UN.Arabic article here. 
This is the journalism that Ban Ki-moon and his Cristina Gallach want and reward. By taking away Inner City Press' office, it is now required to have a minder and is told to not ask diplomats questions. This is censorship.
Sign of TImes:  & Gallach evict ICP, put in Egypt state media which gets others arrested
Akhbar Elyom has been used to finger for imprisonment non-state journalists in Egypt. For example, in July 2015 Aboubakr Khallaf, the founder and head of the independent Electronic Media Syndicate (EMS), “was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum.” (Article in Arabic here.) 
According to CPJ, Khallaf's EMS “trains and supports journalists who work online in Egypt. The syndicate operates independently from the state-recognized Egyptian Journalists Syndicate... 
The local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture and the local Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said Khallaf was also accused of 'taking pictures and displaying artistic works without a license,' among other allegations. A 1998 executive order states that individuals conducting audio and audiovisual work must have a license from the Ministry of Culture. According to AFTE, the accusation is in connection with Khallaf photographing the funeral of Hisham Barakat, Egypt's prosecutor general who was assassinated late last month."
There are many echoes of this in Ban's UN: as simply one example Ban's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach telling Inner City Press it takes photographs of things that "are not newsworthy." There are more, and more examples of Akbar Elyom. 
Only when it questioned Ban's and its PR official CristinaGallach's roles in the John Ashe, Ng Lap Seng and Francis Lorenzo UN bribery scandal did Gallach order Inner City Press ousted then evicted, and now try to give its office to an Egyptian media which rarely or never asked questions. Ban Ki-moon claimed “That is not my decision,” but that is not true.
  The New York Times on May 14 covered the story. But they did not in their long process report, because it happened at the end, that Ban Ki-moon and Gallach are moving to give Inner City Press' long time office to Egyptian state media, Al Akhbar / Akhbar El-Yom / Akher Saa, to a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who most even on the UN press floor have never seen. 
Her "in" seems to be that she was a previous president of the UN Correspondents Association, now become the UN's Censorship Alliance. As one respected usual UN interlocutor put it, "it would be a hugely negative symbolic step for Egyptian state media to replace Inner City Press in the UN." 
 A longtime UN correspondent who spotted her moving in on Inner City Press' office noted she had not been seen before; the name was confirmed by UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, which refused to provide the waiting list or describe the rationale. 
But this is Ban's and Gallach's UN (click here for a Spanish take on Gallach's tenure.) We are beginning to report this now because it has proven nearly impossible to reach Al Akhbar / Akhbar Al Yom - the telephone numbers listed online are disconnected, or private homes; the correspondent at UNCA address has been unresponsive. The absurdity of this has been directly raised to Ban Ki-moon, his Deputy and Chief of Staff with enough time to stop it. We'll see. 
  For now from the NYT we note this quote: “It’s not exactly the same access,’’ Mr. Dujarric said, “but if he has an issue, there is a staff of media liaisons to help him resolve the problem and get where he needs to go.”
  This is false. As Inner City Press has raised to Ban Ki-moon, "even when begrudgingly accompanied by a staff member of your Spokesperson's office, UN Security refused to allow me through the turnstile onto the second floor of Conference Building. I have been told not to ask questions of diplomats, just after you came out of ECOSOC and even with a MALU minder / escort with me, a UN Security official stood directly in front of me, apparently so I couldn't even try to ask you a question. This is censorship."  We await response.
Audio hereBan, when asked, said “that is not my decision.” But he heard about the ouster and eviction in advance and ok-ed it.
On April 16, the acting chief of Gallach's “Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit Tal Mekel oversaw the eviction of Inner City Press' office, leaving five boxes of its files out on First Avenue. Video here.
Some in Ban's team indicated to Inner City Press its office would be left empty until its four month “purgatory” or punishment-for-reporting period was over. 
That was a lie: on May 13, after Inner City Press asked more questions about Ban's engagements with John Ashe and Francis Lorenzo - president of South South News which paid UNCA and still has a UN office - Inner City Press was informed that its long time office is being given out.
   When Inner City Press asked to see the supposed waiting list, this was refused by Mekel. It is apparently entirely up to Gallach - or UNCA - who is given UN office space, without which one cannot access the UN Conference Building's second floor, see below. 
On May 13 as the UN Security Council began a meeting about Lebanon, the glass doors to enter the Council were locked. Apparenlty the UN can't afford one guard for a Security Council meeting, but won't provide information requested by the Press about Ban Ki-moon's endless and largely fruitless travel.
   Inner City Press, which covers the UN corruption scandal and was ousted then evicted by an official implicated in the scandal, Cristina Gallach -- see OIOS audit Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) -- with Ban Ki-moon's full knowledge, was unable to get to the Security Council stakeout. Its pass, cut by Gallach, won't open the turnstile at the other end of the stakeout. This week a guard there even refused to allow Inner City Press through to a stakeout with a staffer of the Spokesperson's office.

   Gallach, at least according to some paid to tweet for the UN, is in Washington. So Inner City Press undertook to document the restrictions and censorship. Another UN system spokesperson tried to undermine it, as did UN Security. They claimed everything is fine, even as Security Council Ambassadors asked them how can it be that the door is locked (and Press excluded). Some Security write-up began, sure to omit all of this. Watch this site.