By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, February 3 – Last February UN Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach orderedInner City Press to leave the UN on two hours notice, and had it physically ejected by eight UN Security officers, audio here.
There was no due process, and no appeal since.
There was, however, a conflict of interest. Inner City Press had begun asking Gallach about her links to the UN bribery scandal of Ng Lap Seng in October 2015, video here.
Gallach in retaliation evicted Inner City Press and had its files thrown out onto First Avenue.She has tried to give its office to an Egyptian state media which rarely comes to the UN, and never asks questions. Inner City Press remains restricted.
And now, Cristina Gallach's position is the subject of a vacancy notice, here, open until March 6. Belatedly, she will be gone, on or about March 31, 2017. How was she allowed to get away with this, and get away with it still?
On February 3, Inner City Press asked UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the vacancy announcement, and if respect for due process shouldn't be made part of the USG DPI job description. We'll have more on this.
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.