By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, February 23 – After the Committee to Project Journalists came to the UN for a meeting on the 38th floor, Inner City Press asked CPJ's Joel Simon for a summary of what had been raised. "Not yet," Simon said, as one of his escorts told Inner City Press to back away. It was a typical UN scene: a group promoting a principle outside of the UN not pursuing it inside the UN, in order to maintain access and perceived influence.
It is the same as groups speechifying about accountability not holding the UN to task for killing 10,000 Haitians with cholera, nor for the lack of prosecutions for peacekeepers' sexual abuse. The UN talks about the rule of law but does not abide by it.
CPJ, including Simon and his deputy Robert Mahoney, were informed in detail of the UN's lack of due process for the press - but they have done nothing. One year ago, covering the UN corruption scandals which have resulted in two sets of indictments for bribery involving the UN, Inner City Press was ordered to leave the UN Press Briefing Room by then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Other correspondents were allowed to stay in the briefing room, which Dujarric had "lent" them. But he insisted that Inner City Press leave. Video here.
Inner City Press asked to see any paperwork that the event was closed; none was provided. Inner City Press stated that if a single UN Security official asked it to leave, it would. Finally one guard came and said Dujarric wanted it to leave.
Inner City Press immediately left, uploaded the already live-streamed Periscope video, and continued digging into the corruption that's resulted in the indictment for bribery and money laundering of Ban Ki-moon's brother Ban Ki Sang and nephew Dennis Bahn.
But three weeks afterward, without a single conversation or opportunity to be heard, Ban's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press to leave the UN, after ten years, on two hours notice. Order here.
This was enforced, as Inner City Press worked on its laptop at the UN Security Council stakeout, by eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty, who tore Inner City Press accreditation badge off its chest and said, "Now you are a trespasser." Audio here.
Inner City Press was marched down the escalator and around the UN traffic circle, without even its coat which was up in its longtime office. It was pushed out of the gate and its laptop, in a bag, was thrown on the sidewalk and damaged.
The next work day when Inner City Press arranged for a fellow journalist to sign it in as a guest so it could cover the Security Council, UN Security official Matthew Sullivan said it was Banned from UN premises worldwide. Audio here.
After three days covering the UN from the park in front in the sleet, and articles like this one, Inner City Press re-entered with a "non-resident correspondents" pass - to which it is still, more than eleven months later, confined.
The then-US Mission under Samantha Power and Isobel Coleman, even petitioned by the DC-based Government Accountability Project, did nothing. Indirectly, a offer was made of an upgraded pass if Inner City Press would agree to a gag order, to which it would not and will not agree.
There has been no UN opportunity for appeal or reinstatement. After having five boxes of Inner City Press' investigative files thrown on the sidewalk in April, Gallach is giving its office to an Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom which rarely comes in, a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who had yet to ask a single question.
Her only claim is that she was once, decades ago, a president of the United Nations Correspondents Association, the group to which Duajrric "lent" the UN Press Briefing Room, without notice or written record, on January 29, 2016.
Even as the scope of Ban Ki-moon's corruption is being exposed upon his return to South Korea, here, his successor Antonio Guterres has yet to reverse this year of censorship and no due process. On January 6 Dujarric and Gallach led him on a tour of... the UN Correspondents Association, which now wants him again in their clubhouse. (More on this to follow.)
On January 27 as Inner City Press moved to cover Guterres at the UN's Holocaust event, it was targeted by UN Security and told it could not proceed without a minder, who did not appear for over 15 minutes.
The harassment continued through the day, as Inner City Press exposed more corruption, including involving Jeffrey Feltman (Dujarric told ICP its questioning was "despicable"), and the use of military contingents involved in war crimes in Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping, as criticized by new US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
All of this must change. This is a scam, and censorship: the UN's Censorship Alliance. We will have more on this.