PARK EAST SYNAGOGUE, October 31 – In the wake of the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Inner City Press went to cover a memorial event at Manhattan's Park East Synagogue. As it stood in line with others to be screened, the UN Security detail of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, one of the speakers, pointed out Inner City Press. One heard audibly into the microphone in his ear, "He's going in."
But once in, Inner City Press was told to go up to the balcony with the rest of the media including photographers. It was setting up its recording equipment when a non-UN security man told it to follow up. In the basement he said, "Go," opening a door out to 67th Street. Inner City Press asked why. Audio here. The security man reached over and turn off Inner City Press' recorder. Ultimately when Inner City Press demonstrated what it writes and streams about, the office -- Shay Amir, head of security - allowed Inner City Press back to the balcony. Inner City Press photos of two of Guterres' Security involved in this censorship here. Inner City Press from the balcony, before noon, e-mailed questions to Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Alison Smale who told UNSR David A. Kaye questions would be answered, Deputy Amina J. Mohammed and others: "October 31-1: Immediately explain the basis on which SG Guterres' Security tried to get Park East Synagogue head of security Shay Amir to have Inner City Press removed from his speech about tolerance." Hours later, the UN refused to answer this question, and one on the missionary killed by Cameroon, while send a single canned answer on Sri Lanka. Also at the event were, among others, Bronx congressman Engel, US Deputy Ambassador David Cohen, Israel's Danny Danon. Guterres has yet to speak or have his spokesman Stephane Dujarric answer Inner City Press' question about Cameroon killing missionary Charles Wesco, despite promises by UN USG Alison Smale to UNSR David Kaye that questions would be answered. What has the UN become, under Guterres?
The UN maintains a secret list of people banned from entering its premises. On October 24 while barring Inner City Press from events on Burundi, Syria and Cameroon, UN Security Inspector Matthew Sullivan said the list would not be provided to Inner City Press as it is an "internal document." He returned to brag that the UN spoke with and even affirmatively called NYPD - the NY Police Department to which Inner City Press directed a Freedom of Information Law request about their knowledge of and collusion with the UN's barred list -- presumably to hinder the release of any information, or to retalate. Video here. Things are getting worse and worse at Antonio Guterres' UN. Inner City Press has appealed to both the Mayor's Office including International Affairs' Penny Abeywardena and to NYPD, through the OpenRecords portal it like all New Yorkers is directed to, thusly: "As a journalist banned even today from the UN - told that I am on the no due process "barred" list that is one of the subjects of this FOIL request I requested and am requesting expedited processing of -
Today UN Security Inspector Matthew Sullivan in barring me from events on Burundi and Syria said that the UN was called by and called the New York City government, presumably about this request and to impede or delay any response. He called the UN barred list an "internal document." This is contrary to US Constitutional (and international human) rights - but the purpose of this interim appeal is in this new light to demand expedited response of all records in your possession about this list, to avoid or mitigate collusion in the violation of an American (and New York) journalist's First Amendment rights. For your information, and in support of this appeal, UN Inspector Sullivan bragging about impeding this FOIL request is now online here. Please confirm receipt, respond to this appeal and provide the responsive documents asap. -Matthew Lee, Inner City Press." In further Kafka-esque response, while the NYPD response said to that portal "to view additional information and take any necessary action," now NYPD's Records Access Officer Richard Mantellino says "Please be advised that this email cannot accept FOIL requests and/or respond to inquiries or matters related to such." So who should we ask - the UN's Matthew Sullivan? Antonio Guterres? Watch this site? Even the Security officers who enforce the ban are not told the reason why a person is on the list: whether it was for actual violence, or writing articles questioning the Secretary General Antonio Guterres' misuse of public funds, for example. One told Inner City Press the secret list includes "demonstrators" and "political activists," audio here. Since the City of New York works with the UN including this banned list which includes New York City journalists, Inner City Press in mid October 2018 submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Law - but the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Mayor's Office of International Affairs under Penny Abeywardena are trying to delay response for SIX MONTHS until April 2019. Here is the request: "On behalf of Inner City Press and in my personal capacity this is a request under FOIL for all records in the possession of the NYC Office of the Mayor including the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs (MOIA; collectively OOM) regarding the exclusion of persons in the last three years from premises of the United Nations, in and around First Avenue and 42-48th Streets in Manhattan, including of NYC residents including journalists. This is also a request for all records in the same time period of the review, suspension or revocation of pistol permits for any UN personnel including but not limited to UN Department of Safety and Security personnel and the grounds therefore. To assist you in identifying and producing the responsive records on an expedited basis, I personally was physically ousted from the UN by UN DSS Lieutenant Ronald Dobbins and another unnamed on 3 July 2018 as I staked out and covered, as a journalist, the UN Budget Committee meetings. On 4 July 2018 I filed a report at the NYPD's 17th Precinct, despite being told - erroneously I now believe, including based on how my First Amendment rights have been impacted - that all UN personnel have total immunity. The report number is #2018-017-2848. See also, The UK Independent, here. On 5 July 2018 when I went to the UN to continue my work as a journalist I was told I am “banned.” I have since been told that the UN has a “current and active barred notice” against me, that there is a banned list that includes “demonstrators” and “political activists.” I am still banned today, after 104 days. See also, https://pressfreedomtracker.us/all-incidents/independent-journalist-matt-lee-forcibly-removed-un-stripped-press-credentials/ and https://www.cjr.org/the_profile/reporter-expelled-un.php I find this deeply troubling and worth of urgent Press coverage. This request includes but is not limited to all records related to the above, related to any knowledge by OOM including MOIA of any UN “banned” list and how it is compiled, and what due process protections if any are in place, etc. Also any knowledge by OOM including MOIA of any disciplinary measures taken against UN Security officers or other personnel, at least for the past three years. I am also requesting any record in your possession referring to "Inner City Press" for the past ten years, with the past three years to be provided on an expedited basis. I am requesting expedited process and a waiver of fees - Inner City Press is a non profit news organization that educated the public about the operations of government(s) and routinely receives fee waivers from agencies at the Federal, state and local level." And here is the response, to which we are preparing an appeal: "The Mayor's Office (OOM) has acknowledged your FOIL request... You can expect a response on or about Friday, April 26, 2019.
Due to the volume of requests that we have received, we now estimate that we will be able to provide you with a response on or before the above date." Disgusting. We will have more on this.
Guterres or apparently his head of Global Communications Alison Smale, if only as a proxy, can put a journalist on the list without any review, any notice, any appeal. It is a dictator's dream come true.
Inner City Press was physically ousted twice by Guterres' UN Security this summer as it reported on his now-15 flights to his home in Lisbon with public funds, his trading away of Cameroon human rights abuses for favors in the Budget Committee, and now his son Pedro's undisclosed business links in Africa. Smale on August 17, without once speaking to me covering the UN for Inner City Press for 11 years, withdrew my media accreditation.
But it's gone further than that. For example, on October 11 I showed up for a film screening about sex trafficking, “Love Sonia,” to which I had been invited by the UN Office of Drugs and Crimes. UNODC's New York director personally put me on the list for a post screening reception and came and met me and took me to the UN gate to sign me in, since my ticket - which she said she'd seen - mysteriously disappeared.
UN Security refused to allow the NY director of UNODC to sign me in. “Even if he had a ticket we'd have to check,” one officer said. I was told that a supervisor would come out, and that UNODC would speak to them. But after one hour it never happened. Guterres' chief of staff Maria Luiza Viotti left the building and I audibly told her, I'm invited but I'm being blocked. She did not even break stride.
The UN has given me nothing in writing that I am banned. Guterres' spokesman has stated it as a fact, without explanation or rationale, on October 9 and 11, while refusing to answer my e-mailed questions despite Smale's promise they would be answered to supposedly respect my "journalistic endeavours."
Another UN Security officer told me, No one is going to help you. You are on the list. I asked him, who else is on the list? He mentioned “demonstrators” and "political activists" and others. Audio here.
Tellingly, NOT on Guterres' banned list are those who pleaded guilty to UN bribery for example in the Ng Lap Seng - John Ashe case. They are not banned by Guterres, UNlike the journalist who most closely covered those convictions, and the current UN bribery case of Patrick Ho and the China Energy Fund Committee. Guterres is fine with bribery, but bans those who investigate and expose it.
UNSG Guterres thinks he can ban people without no notice, no due process, no review? And that it won't be noticed or reviewed? Watch this site.