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With UN Ignored in Cairo Q&A, Who Spoon-Fed to Reuters Trip Confirmation?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 17 -- With the UN and its envoy Jeffrey Feltman apparently irrelevant in the Egyptian presidency's August 17 press conference in Cairo, questions mount about why the UN on August 15 called the Press report of Feltman's trip just a rumor - then handed confirmation to Reuters, with no transparency and apparently quid pro quo.

  Just after the Egypt session of the UN Security Council on August 15, Inner City Press exclusively reported, with audio, that Feltman would visit Cairo.

  But later on August 15, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq called the Inner City Press "just a rumor."

  Then on August 16 just before Ban's Deputy Spokesman Eduardo Del Buey at the noon briefing answered Inner City Press' question with an "If-Asked" confirming Feltman's trip, Reuters ran a two paragraph "story" quoting "the United Nations" confirming Feltman's trip.

  Inner City Press asked Del Buey: how was this information released? From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: yesterday, at, at the end of the Security Council meeting, the Egyptian Permanent Representative, I asked him and he said that Mr. [Jeffrey] Feltman has asked to go, that arrangements have been made, that high-level meetings have been set up, then I, for some how, the UN, at least, as of yesterday, wasn’t willing to confirm that. Can you now say, is Mr. Feltman going? Are the meetings set up? Who is he going to meet with? That’s the question.

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, Matthew, Under-Secretary General Feltman has been asked by the Secretary-General to conduct some regional consultations in several countries after the conclusion of the Secretary-General's current trip to the Middle East. While some of the stops are still pending, Mr. Feltman does hope to meet Egyptian interlocutors in Cairo next week.

Inner City Press: And can you, can I just, this is a procedural question; when, this, this confirmation that you are now reading here, when did you come up with it? When did, when was it--

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, whenever I came up with it--

Inner City Press: Right… was it given to some, was it given to some before others?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: We are announcing it here now.

  But it was given, by "the United Nations," to Reuters before the noon briefing. How? By whom? This like numerous recent questions to Ban's Spokesperson's Office, has still not been answered; allusion off-camera has been made to a "leak."

  A leak from Ban's Spokesperson's Office? Because the Reuters report quotes "the United Nations." Del Buey says he didn't release the information before reading the If-Asked at the noon briefing. So: did Haq? Or another in Ban's spokesperson's office, closely associated with Reuters?

  It must be noted that Reuters' UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau has been shown, with documents, to have spied for the UN, providing internal anti-Press documents of the UN Correspondents Association to UN Department of Public Information official Stephane Dujarric, three minutes after promising not to.

Story here, audio here, document here (note Charbonneau's "you didn't get this from me.")

  These type of practices are opposed, strenuously and formally, by the new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info (see UN reaction and threats, here.)

  It's also noteworthy that Reuters would publish a mere pass through of this "United Nations" gift, with no background such as Feltman's previous position with the US State Department, or the context, also first reported by Inner City Press, that Feltman was already planning this Egypt trip before the August 14 killings. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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