By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 22 -- Spain's second and last Presidency of the UN Security Council is nearly over and it's time for another review.
On December 22 Spain held its wrap-up session in the so-called Toledo format. The sign outside UN Conference Room 1 did not say “closed,” but when Inner City Press went to enter and cover it, UN Security said no you can't. Several tweets directed @SpainUN for an explanation did not result in one.
Luxembourg, for example, congratulated Spain for its excellent result. But on Yemen and Burundi, for example, what were the results? Much less on Western Sahara.
Diplomats leaving Spain's meeting approached Inner City Press full of questions about the postponement of the vote on the anti Settlements draft resolution, at the request of Egypt.
While Inner City Press covered it, and snarked about increased US sale of Apache helicopters to Egypt, will Spain as Security Council president say anything? Or, just as the scribes who smashed the Press' camera on Wall Street did during the December 21 Syrian investigation mechanism vote and meeting in the UN General Assembly, will Spain just party on? Watch this site.
On December 20, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy chaired a UN Security Council all day debate about trafficking in persons in conflict situations. Yazidi victim turned activist Nadia Murad Basee Taha asked why the Council and its members are not acting against ISIS. When Rajoy spoke in the Council, he praised the questioner but did not answer the question.
Likewise when Rajoy came to the UNTV stakeout, he read a long speech about Spain's accomplishments in its now-expiring Security Council term. But when Inner City Press asked, what has Spain accomplished on its former colony Western Sahara, Rajoy was already walking away.
As he left, Inner City Press tried to ask the longer, previously requested question: is Spain at least reviewing the arms sales to Saudi Arabia exposed recently in El Pais? No answer.
Even getting to the stakeout, Inner City Press was late, since the no due process eviction order by Spain's highest UN offiical Cristina Gallach required it to go through the tourist / metal detector entrance every day, and hinders its editing of the video of Rajoy's stakeout.
But see this video of Inner City Press' Periscope camera being smashed on December 16 by those Gallach works with, whose event in the UN Press Briefing Room in January she Banned Inner City Press for trying to cover. Gallach created this climate in which the critical Press' camera can be smashed with impunity.
This Vine of Rajoy, post camera smashing, was produced.
And here's a sample Inner City Press scoop, from December 20, the type of journalism Gallach evicted and is restricting.
Back on December 15 Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso María Dastis Quecedo came to the Security Council stakeout and made a statement about weapons. But when Inner City Press asked him about Spain's sale of 70 million Euros in weapons to Saudi Arabia despite alleged war crimes in Yemen, he did not answer the question. Vine here.
Instead, he took selected media -- all Spanish -- to the Qatar Lounge. Inner City Press would have followed to ask the question again. But Spain's highest UN official Cristina Gallach, in charge of the UN Department of Public Information, this year evicted and restricts Inner City Press simply for trying to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room. Audio here.
Spain's Gallach has created a climate of censorship. And to this day, her eviction order means that Inner City Press can only cover meetings of the UN General Assembly with a minder, and cannot cover the coming UN budget end-game.
Later on December 15 Spain's Deputy Ambassador González de Linares came out after a South Sudan meeting and to his credit took some questions, not on UNTV. Inner City Press asked him about criticism of the Council's system of “penholders,” or drafters of resolutions. He said the system is working well. Really?
Spain's Minister of Justice of Spain Rafael Catalá made a statement at the stakeout on December 12, and also refused to take questions. Video here, at end.
Gallach certainly doesn't follow the rule of law - she never spoke to Inner City Press before evicting it, see question letter from two UN Special Rapporteurs, here - but one wonders if the Spanish Ministers might even be lobbying for Gallach to keep the post she has failed in. She is responsible for the Wonder Woman fiasco, and to paying a DPI speaker to insult Detroit, Michigan as a “third rate city” in flyover country.
The problem of Cristina Gallach, who in fairness to her never ran anything near the size of DPI, should have been solved long ago, by the Spanish Mission whose head, Ambassador Román Oyarzun Marchesi, is aware of all this. Now what will happen?
Another sample spectacle: Gallach pontificating to a Gulf media to which she gives a large office in the UN about “social media” for the “difficult” and “very controversial” roles they played in the US election. Video here, from Minute 10.
This is an attempt by Gallach -- surrounded by corruption and mismanagement scandals -- to keep her UN position under incoming Secretary General Guterres. She should not. Busca una otra.
Exhibit 2: on December 6, Inner City Press asked Gallach about the superseding indictment in the UN bribery case against Macau-based Ng Lap Seng, on whom Gallach did no due diligence - and she had no update, then or since.
Third strike: on December 8, Gallach used public money to pay a speaker to tell DPI-affiliated NGOs, in UN Conference Room 4, that Detroit, Michigan is a “third-rate” city, a “fly-over” city, baffled by how Trump won the election. Tweeted video here.
This with public money - questions on her use of which Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople have refused to answer for two weeks, on December 8 using a questions about Gallach's lawless eviction of Inner City Press as the justification for not answer the Gallach funding questions. See here.It is time to drain all of this from Turtle Bay.
Tellingly, while outgoing Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople have told Inner City Press it is the practice for USGs like Gallach to tender their resignations at the end of their appointer's term, Gallach says only that she has given a “report” to Guterres and taken instruction on how he'd like the job down. Pro-tip to Guterres: end UN censorship, and Gallach's tenure. Busca una otra.
Here's a suggestion, based not only on Inner City Press' personal experience at the UN (NYT here) -- including now not only the violation of the UN mailbox to which people all over the world have written to Inner City Press but also the unilateral seizure of the mail in it -- but also interviews with staff, diplomats and elected officials: if there is one UN Department to be cut, even eliminated, it is the Department of Public Information (DPI).
When Spain's Cristina Gallach was put in charge of DPI by Ban Ki-moon and threw Inner City Press out of the UN on two hours notice and without providing any opportunity to be heard, she also at best misled not only Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta but also a number of other UN Under Secretaries General.
Gallach told Ramos Horta, in writing, that after Inner City Press re-entered as a “non resident correspondent” it would have the same access to cover the UN. In fact, for nine months now Gallach has confined Inner City Press to a minder to hinder coverage of the UN General Assembly, ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council.
Early on, another Under Secretary General told Inner City Press Gallach had told him everything was fine, there were not restrictions on Inner City Press - a blatantly falsehood.
Other Under Secretaries General, as recently on November 25, informed Inner City Press that Gallach told them that Inner City Press would be restored to its longtime office after four months of “penalty.”
In fact, before four months elapsed Gallach had all of Inner City Press' files removed from the office and dumped on First Avenue, and put in the office an Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom whose correspondent Sanaa Youssef rarely comes in to the UN and never asks any questions (her only qualification seems to be that she was a past present of the pro-Ban UN Correspondents Association).
On November 25, Inner City Press asked - this time in writing - requested information about this switch and violation of the what few rules the UN says it has, as well as the below, about Gallach's waste of UN and public funds.
Since Cristina Gallach of Spain took DPI over, the Department has been in decline, while Gallach herself uses UN -- that is, public -- money to fly around giving little publicized speeches and picking up awards for herself, if only on Catalan.
Inner City Press asked about this at the November 22 noon briefing - then on November 25, a paid UN day when Ban Ki-moon's spokesman canceled the briefing but said questions about be answered, formally asked six questions, one about Gallach's rule-less censorship and this one on use of funds:
“In terms of UN Ethics and spending of public money, please state whether the trip by USG Gallach to Catalonia to get an award was paid for by the UN, and if so why and how much, https://twitter.com/BecarioslaCaixa/status/797018977289519104 and separately provide a list of USG Gallach's UN-paid trips for the past year.”
This information should, obviously, be provided and when it is, or isn't, we will write about it again. In covering Ban Ki-moon's November 25 reward to Spain's Bernardino Leon after Leon sold out the UN and Libya by negotiation a UAE job, Inner City Press' last 2015 coverage of Leon came back up. Some point to a link to follow-Spaniard Gallach's February 2016 ouster of Inner City Press without so much as once speaking with Inner City Press or giving it any right to be heard. Gallach Must Go.
While the UN where it sees fit announces the travel of other Under Secretaries General, those of Gallach are not announced (or, most often, reported anywhere).
Recently, one was reported, if only in press releases. But while Gallach spent UN / public money to go, there was no mention of the UN. Perhaps it was a pretext to go pick up an award elsewhere. Maybe Gallach should just keep on traveling.
How many trips have there been? What has been the benefit to the UN, of Gallach going to pick up Catalan awards? How much has it all cost? We'll have more on this.
Gallach was put atop DPI as Ban Ki-moon's attempt to ingratiate himself to Spain during its now-ending UN Security Council term, it has not only evicted the investigative Press without any due process or appeal, it has most recent named as the UN's gender empowerment ambassador not an actual person but rather a cartoon character, Wonder Woman.
Gallach, after not consulting with staff or even the top of UN Women, ignored the staff and mission protest to her ceremony promoting a forthcoming movie.
Now in a move surprising even to Inner City Press, its long time mailbox on the UN's third floor had the "Inner City Press" sign removed and all of the mail in the box was taken. It was to this box that whistleblowers, many of them from inside the UN system, sent information to Inner City Press.
For the UN to believe it can seize the correspondence in a journalist's box is a new low, even for Gallach and Ban Ki-moon. We'll now be running examples of the type of corruption complaints submitted, concerning Ban Ki-moon and his promoted son in law, Gallach and other Ban officials.
During a recent meeting in the UN of representatives of the UN Information Centers, a participant called Inner City Press aside and said, among other things, that if they were seen with Inner City Press they would "pay the consequences." Who runs the UNICs? Gallach.
Before Gallach put a target on Inner City Press for daring to ask her about her role in the UN bribery scandal, there were other Department of Public Information officials in communication with Inner City Press, on how and why this changed we'll have more. The UN Department of “Public” Information has become a parody of its title under Gallach, now to the point of seizing the Press' mail.
In terms of outright corruption, even the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng ongoing bribery case found that Gallach did no due diligence of at least two Ng Lap Seng funded events in the UN, including involving the UN's slavery memorial.
Three strikes and you're out. Further, why does the UN need its own propaganda arm? It debilitates UN officials to think they can avoid the actual Press and do softball “interviews” with the UN's own media. There are some good people in DPI, and not only they but some of their functions could find homes in other Departments. But as of today, and in the near future, the UN Department of Public Information should be cut. We'll have more on this.
As Antonio Guterres prepares to take over as UN Secretary General from Ban Ki-moon on January 1, one litmus test will be whether those Ban-era officials implicated in corruption like the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashse UN bribery case are moved out, or retained for political reasons.
Here's the test: while Cristina Gallach of Spain, to whom Ban Ki-moon gave the top job at the UN Department of Public Information in an attempt to ingratiate himself to Spain which had just come onto the Security Council, is repeatedly criticized in the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of l'affaire Ng Lap Seng (here at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20b), and summarily evicted the investigative Press for asking her about her role - will she remain?
Rajoy of Spain may want to keep an Under Secretary General, but is retaliatory incompetent Gallach the right one? Why not give Spain the UN Disarmament USG post, if they get one at all? Gender parity cannot be made a pretext to protect corruption and censorship. Busca una otra.
Sources tell Inner City Press that Gallach's previous boss and protect, Javier Solana, may try to play his Socialist Party cards to keep her on. But is that appropriate?
Cristina Gallach with indicted Franciso Lorenzo, asked then evicted Press
As the UN bribery scandal gathered force Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an audit by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services of Sheri Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF), David Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Group and its affiliates including the "World Harmony Foundation" and South South News, among others.
The audit, completed early this year but first put online by Inner City Press, directly criticizes Cristina Gallach, the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Paragraphs 37-40 -- and 20b.
This last concerns the lack of any due diligence by the UN Department of Public Information under Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach of Ng Lap Seng's GWF's sponsorship of the “Ark of Return” ceremony.
Now in November, a person charged along with Ng Lap Seng, Jeffrey Yin, has made a motion to suppress what he said when arrested in September 2015. His motion says among other things that he was awake for more than 24 hours. Whether it would furhter push back Ng's trial, already put beyond the time when Ban Ki-moon, on whose watch it happened and whose Secretariat including Gallach bear responsibility, is not yet known.
Even in January, Antonio Guterres will have taken over from Ban Ki-moon. Will Guterres move past Ban Ki-moon's only partial cooperation -- and Ban's and Gallach's retaliation against Inner City Press for having dug into each of their roles in the scandal since October 2015? In that month, Inner City Press asked Gallach about her role in the South South Awards with South South News' Francis Lorenzo. Video here.
In February 2016, on the thinnest of pretexts and without once speaking with Inner City Press, Gallach ordered it out of the UN on two hours notice, then evicted its long time office in April. South South News, described in the case as a conduit for bribery, remains in its office, never asking any quesitons at the UN, like Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom to which Gallach purports to give Inner City Press' office.
Gallach herself must go - but will she? How, for example, would the laudable ideal of gender parity apply to incompetent or corrupt holdover official? We'll have more on all this.
On August 23, 2016, the International Day for the Remembrance of Slavery and its Abolition, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here
On June 29, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq about it , video here, UN transcript here and below.
On August 11, lawyers for Ng Lap Seng filed in Federal court their formal demand to the UN and Ban Ki-moon's chief lawyer Manuel de Serpa Soares to produce a slew of financial and other information, including all of its communications with South South News.
SSN is described in the file, by the prosecution, as a vehicle of bribery but the UN has left it in its office -- a conflict of interest -- while evicting Inner City Press which asked questions about it. Ban Ki-moon's UN is corrupt. We'll have more on this.
On July 29 Shiwei Yan a/k/a Sheri Yan was sentenced to 20 months in prison, was fined $12,500 and forfeited $300,000. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's press release, here.
As this player in on UN scandal was sentenced, the UN outright stonewalled on basic Press questions about a news scandal, while having evicted the questioning Press and confining it to minders. Then it said the event was canceled as a basis to answer no questions.
This is Ban Ki-moon's UN: Ban attended Sheri Yan's father's one person art show, had his photo taken at it. See here.
Ban and Yan's bio, credit via photo links
The UN claims the Ng Lap Seng and Sheri Yan case has nothing to do with it or especially Ban, who wants to run for President of South Korea. But this is false.
Ban is allowing new privatization of the UN, through UN Security; his spokesman is trying to discourage questions about it by accusing Inner City Press of “unethical Googling,” after having played a role in ousting and evicting Inner City Press. This is Ban's UN.From the prosecutor's new letter:
"in an email dated on or about March 12, 2010, an individual affiliated with the State Council Information Office, an entity of the PRC government, sent an email to a business associate of Ng, containing a draft letter (in Chinese) for Ng to sign or approve. According to a draft translation prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the letter, which began with Ng introducing himself as a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (“CPPCC”), a political advisory body, and as the “Chairman of the Board of the United Nations South South News,” stated in pertinent part:
[quote] my greatest wish is to fairly and objectively report the social development, religion, culture, and ideology of China through the South South News, a global media platform authorized by the UN, to display China’s soft power, counter malicious, distorted news by anti-China forces, and let the whole world hear a true voice that comes from China to understand the real China. . . .
. . . I will select suitable regions in China to establish a South South Cooperation Organization International Conference Center and a South South News Network Media Production Center as a base of operations for South South News.
Hope that the plan to establish two centers and the development of South South News in China can obtain strong support from the government of China. [unquote]
As the Court is aware, South South News, the entity described in the above email, is the conduit through which the Government alleges that defendants Ng and Jeff C. Yin funneled some of their bribe and money laundering payments.”
So it says South South News was “authorized” by the UN; the prosecution says Ng and Yin used South South News as a conduit for bribery in the UN. And as of July 8, South South News still has its UN official from Ban Ki-moon as Inner City Press while investigating it was evicted and is now restricted to only cover events on the UN Conference Building's second floor -- ECOSOC and the Trusteeship Council Chambers, the General Assembly and General Assembly President's office -- with one of Ban Ki-moon's minders. This is Ban's UN.