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On Egypt US Condemns Attack on Tourist Bus in Giza As UNSG Guterres Silent on Crackdown

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

UNITED NATIONS GATE, December 28 – While parts of the UN system rightly criticize Egypt's government for repression, including of journalists and human rights defenders, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in late Septembeer issued a gushing read out with President Sisi and has awarded the long time UN work space of investigate Inner City Press to Sisi's state media Akhbar al Youm, and banned Inner City Press from the UN for 177 days and counting as it asks about Guterres' conflicts of interest - even from a September 28 press freedom event including about Egypt, see below. Now on December 28, this from US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino: "The United States strongly condemns the attack carried out today on a tourist bus in Giza.  Our deepest condolences go out to the families of those killed and we wish a quick recovery for those injured.  We are unaware of any American citizen casualties at this time.  We stand with all Egyptians in the fight against terrorism and support the Egyptian government in bringing the perpetrators of this attack to justice." On November 2, banned Inner City Press posed this Egypt question to Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric who didn't answer in writing or even in the street: "November 2-3: On Egypt, what is the SG's command action on that “Those arrested included Huda Abdelmonem, a prominent lawyer and a former member of the National Council for Human Rights, a government-backed watchdog. Members of Ms. Abdelmonem’s family published images of her apartment in the aftermath of the raid, with papers, books, furniture and personal items strewn about, suggesting a violent search by security forces. The whereabouts of the 19 people arrested Thursday are currently unknown, according to human-rights groups monitoring the case. Others arrested this week include members of the Egyptian Coordination for Human Rights, a group whose work has been widely cited by established international media and by Human Rights Watch. The group’s director, Ezzat Ghonim, is being held in secret detention by the security forces... This week, Egyptian authorities moved to implement a restrictive new law on the media, demanding that news websites register with the government or face closure”?" On September 28 from Geneva: "UN human rights experts have urged Egyptian authorities to ensure that all detained human rights defenders are afforded every right to due process and a fair, impartial and public trial in accordance with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law. Ms. Amal Fathy, Mr. Shadi al-Ghazali Harb, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan (also known as “Mohamed Oxygen”), Mr. Wael Abbas, and Mr. Haytham Mohamadein, who have worked on issues such as corruption, torture, extra-judicial killings, and women’s rights, have been in detention for the past five months. All are facing charges relating to freedom of expression and freedom of association, and three are facing charges relating to participating in terrorist organisations.
“We are gravely concerned at the human rights defenders’ prolonged periods of detention, reportedly arising from their peaceful and legitimate defence of human rights,” the UN experts said. “The systematic targeting of human rights defenders is yet another indication that the Egyptian Government is operating a zero-tolerance approach to dissent, which is often suppressed under the pretext of countering terrorism.
“No one should be punished simply for expressing political dissent in line with universal human rights standards,” the experts said.
The experts voiced particular concern for Ms. Amal Fathy, who is facing charges in two separate cases relating to incitement to overthrow the regime, terrorism, and publishing fake news in relation to her efforts to promote women’s rights. She is reportedly suffering from acute stress as a result of her prolonged detention and was diagnosed with paralysis in July. Her verdict hearing is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 29 September 2018.
The UN experts: Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Mr. Joseph Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy; Ms. Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Ms. Elizabath Broderick, Ms. Alda Facio, Ms. Ivana RadacIc (Chair), Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane (Vice Chair), Ms. Melissa Upreti, Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Ms. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Mr. Seong-Phil Hong (Chair), Ms. Leigh Toomey (Vice-Chair), Ms Elina Steinerte, Mr. José Guevara, Mr. Sètondji Adjovi, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention."

Meanwhile in New York for an event in the UN about press freedom, with presentations by the heads of the Committee to Protect Journalist and Reuters, Inner City Press submitted an RSVP and was told "You are confirmed to attend Press Behind Bars: Undermining Justice and Democracy this Friday, Sept 28. The event will be held in the United Nations Headquarters ECOSOC chamber from 11-12:30 PM... we recommend you pick up your tickets on Thursday, Sept. 27 in the lobby of Reuters at 3 Times Square 4 p.m.-7 p.m. (7th Ave. and 47th St.). There will be a table on the left."

  It seems obvious that a journalist - particularly one who has faced hindering of reporting noted in the CPJ affiliated US Press Freedom Tracker and in the Columbia Journalism Review, here. But when Inner City Press went to pick up its ticket at Reuters, it was not there. Video here. So Inner City Press wrote to CPJ, Joel Simon, Robert Mahoney and others. This has been the response: "Hi Matt, We submitted all the names of those who RSVPed to the UN on Tuesday, including yours, as required. We were given the tickets today and were informed by Reuters after you went there to lick up your ticket that there was no ticket for you. CPJ was not informed of which RSVPs were denied tickets. We support the right of journalists to cover UN activities. I can only assume this is due to the withdrawal of your credentials, but I will email the UN and would suggest you do the same. However, please understand that we do not control the tickets and can only make a request to the UN.


Dr. Courtney Radsch
Advocacy Director
Committee to Protect Journalists"
Inner City Press replied: "Hi - even before writing to you, I wrote to the UN, to the very top: Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed and her chief of staff, see below. It will be an outrage if I am barred from attending and covering an event about press freedom - even as a private citizen like many others who RSVP-ed. So I ask you / CPJ again to ensure that I can attend. Would you hold an event where critical journalists were denied access with no due process, no appeal, nothing in writing, simply "disappeared"? That is what this is, at this moment. Encouraging you / CPJ to ensure this does not happen. You have been told enough in advance. I will respond and try to help this be solved at any hour until the event."

CPJ replied, deferring entirely to the UN in a way they would not, or one hopes they would not, to a country: "Dear Matt, We have reached out to the media liaison office to inform them about this and ask if they can assist. I'm afraid we have no control over which tickets the UN grants, and we were not informed of any names on the submitted list who were not granted tickets. I'll keep you informed if we hear back. If this is not resolved, I invite you to watch the livestream. Best, Courtney." UNacceptable - Joel Simon and Mahoney are on notice of this issue. Inner City Press replied, including to them: "I appreciate you responding but I am deeply concerned about this: 'we have no control over which tickets the UN grants, and we were not informed of any names on the submitted list who were not granted tickets.' Would CPJ hold events elsewhere in which critical journalists could be arbitrarily banned? In a city in which the First Amendment applies on every inch EXCEPT the UN, shouldn't CPJ either demand that press freedom / due process apply, or cancel as a matter of principle and hold it elsewhere? Inner City Press could suggest a dozen free-er (and no cost) locations.

  I will be going to Olympia Cafe requesting my ticket, despite having wasted an hour going to Reuters. Please resolve this, or act on it as urged above." Watch this site.

In an abundance of caution, Inner City Press earlier on the afternoon of September 27 wrote to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Deputy Amina J. Mohammed - and this and the non response hours later has been raised to CPJ: "DSG Mohammed: I just witnessed - well, watched on UNTV because I remain banned from the UN - your stakeout with Neven Mimica at which the two of you received only one question. Last year, before being roughed up and banned, I asked you questions, video here.
Since I wrote to you before yesterday's "UN human rights" event, I was removed from the waiting line at the Visitors Entrance by UN Security and told I have a current and active barred notice against me, something I have received no written notice off much less any opportunity to be heard or to appeal. I learned yesterday that your Office of the Spokesperson is claiming to people who ask that I "took a swing at a Security officer" on July 3 - entirely false, I was the one roughed up, it is on video -- and saying I remain banned because of questioning diplomats on the sidewalk. As should be clear, I do that because I cannot question them at the stakeout, or in the briefing room which was nearly empty today at noon, only one question. I believe you should answer this / take action so that Inner City Press can enter the UN. There is nothing I have done in the past year any different that what I did before, including under Ban Ki-moon. The only difference is your Administration. Tomorrow there is a press freedom event at 11 am I have RSVP-ed for; on Monday Bolivia takes over UNSC Presidency and I would like to ask questions at the Program of Work press conference. I urge you to act to end these now 86 days of exclusion, now more than ever after your one-question stakeout. Please confirm receipt and act." But five hours later, from Mohammed and her chief of office Nelson Muffuh, and a cc - nothing. And when Inner City Press went to Reuters in Times Square (between 43rd and 42nd Street, not 47th), the person behind the CPJ table said somehow the ticket was not there but she would e-mail in less than an hour. Nor has that happened. We'll have more on this. Here's their description of the event: "The Committee to Protect Journalists will hold a panel discussion during the U.N. General Assembly to highlight global press freedom challenges, with an emphasis on Myanmar, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Kyrgyzstan as countries where journalists are imprisoned for their work and denied due process. The cases of Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are emblematic: they were set up by Myanmar police, falsely arrested, convicted under Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, and sentenced to seven years of hard labor, all in a protracted effort to silence their truthful reporting.
Panel Event from Q&A 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
JOEL SIMON, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists
STEPHEN J. ADLER, President and Editor-in-Chief of Reuters
This will be the first time that Ms. Clooney, who is representing Reuters and the two reporters, is speaking on the case. Mr. Adler will speak about Reuters’ perspectives on the case and how it impacts Reuters’ global newsroom.
Mr. Simon will discuss the cases of blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid who are imprisoned in Egypt; photojournalist Shahidul Alam, jailed in Bangladesh; and journalist Azimjon Askarov, who is serving a life sentence in Kyrgyzstan.
#FreeThePress  #FreeWaLoneKyawSoeOo."

 Inner City Press is told by sources close to Guterres that he was and is so angry at Inner City Press' anti-corruption questions and reporting that he is intent maintaining a life time ban, even as he blathers about human rights. His Deputy Amina J. Mohammad and chief of staff go along; troublingly, new Commissioner was written to but did nothing. Her staff handed out tickets in chaotic fashion on 46th Street, to such insiders as Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch which has done nothing about the lawless "permanent ban" list of the UN that HRW loves so much. But for new Commissioner Bachelet to be so quickly corrupted or defanged? We'll have more on this. On September 24 for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, Inner City Press was on September 24 singled out and banned, despite having its RSVP accepted by the Mission of Liechtstein and even UN University.  Video here. In the early afternoon of September 25, Inner City Press sent this to Antonio Guterres, and also High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet: "Secretary General Guterres: This follows up on a telephone call I made to your chief of staff's (and Deputy SG's) offices yesterday afternoon when I was blocked from attending an event in the Trusteeship Council Chamber about launching an Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. 

  I am writing now because I am intent on attending, and have a right to attend other events this week, for example the human rights event with HCHR Bachelet on Wednesday, 26 September, at 1115 am in Conference Room 2, see below. I have RSVP-ed, and cc this message to High Commissioner Bachelet and her two assistants.

It is unacceptable for the UN to have an UNdisclosed and UNexplained "current and active banned" list with no due process and no appeal. It is akin to no-fly lists with no appeals process. This must be resolved, in particular for the September 26 UN "human rights" event.

I was invited to the modern slavery event -- I investigate and report on the misdeeds of banks, and did so before I came to the UN to cover it in 2005 -- and my RSVP was accepted. I picked up my ticket at 2:45 pm on 46th Street, showed it to the officers on Second and First Avenues and stood in line at the Visitors Entrance with others going to the event.

They all were admitted but I was singled up and told to wait by the side. After a time a Department of Safety and Security official told me I am subject to a “current and active barred notice.”

Since all I have received from the UN, since being assaulted by DSS Lieutenant Dobbins and another on 3 July 2018 as I staked out the Fifth (Budget) Committee meetings having been invited there by several member states' diplomats in those final meetings, is an August 17 letter stating that my accreditation as a correspondent is withdrawn, I asked who is behind this target “current and active barred notice.”

The officer would not tell me. I asked if it is USG Drennan of DSS, whom I wrote to on 5 August 2018 (“REPORT OF PROHIBITED CONDUCT (HARASSMENT, ABUSE OF AUTHORITY) AND ‘FORMAL COMPLAINT’ SUBMITTED TO UN UNDER SECRETARY GENERAL FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY, MR PETER DRENNAN, PURSUANT TO ST/SGB/2008/5.” Receipt of that was confirmed to me on 8 August 2018 by Elena Rice-Howell, Special Assistant to the Under-Secretary-General of DSS.

But nothing has been done by DSS, including about my formal complaint of assault against Lt Dobbins and his colleagues who refused to give their names. This whole sordid descent into censorship by the current UN was profiled, along with SEA, Haiti cholera, conflicts of interest and travel cost waste, including the issue of yours, and whether and where you disclosed your son's business connections, in the New York Post two days ago, here.

  I was told yesterday I should contact DPI - whose USG Alison Smale never spoke to me before withdrawing my accreditation and has not answer any of my ten e-mail nor a petition with more than 5000 signatures urging her to restore my access, my office S-303 and stop targeting me as I report, sometimes critically, on the UN.

So I called your chief of staff's (and Deputy SG's) offices, just as the event I had RSVP-ed to began, and I am outraged by the lack of response. I have written to each of them this morning, still no response, even as I picked up another RSVP ticket. This should be responded to immediately. Matthew Russell Lee, Esq., Inner City Press."

On September 24 the slavery bank event ran from 3:30 to 5 pm in the UN's Trusteeship Chamber. Inner City Prss arrived 45 minutes early to the NYPD security checkpoint at 46th Street and Second Avenue. Its ticket was accepted by NYPD, it prepared to audio record the event -- but at the UN Visitors Entrance a large UN Security Officer or Capitan nicknamed Tiny said No, it was his understanding that Inner City Press is entirely banned from the UN, not only as a journalist. "You have a current active barred notice against you," he said. Audio here.

Inner City Press asked him if this came from the boss of the Department Safety and Security Peter Drennan, who has not responded to Inner City Press formal complaint to him that it was assaulted by UN DSS Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins on July 3. He said it was not from chief Michael “Mick” Brown. Who then? He refused to say. “You have to call DPI,” he said, referring to the Department of Public Information whose chief Alison Smale has not answered a single on of Inner City Press' more than 10 e-mails.

    Inner City Press called the office of Secretary General Antonio Guterres' chief of staff Maria Luiz Viotti and informed them; they said that she would be told. Hours later, nothing. Inner City Press called the office of the Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed, and was told that the head of office, seemingly Nelson Muffuh, could or would do nothing. Then Inner City Press called the office of Alison Smale, where a person named Charlotte said she would look into and call back. Hours later, nothing. Audio of Inner City Press' side of calls, here.

   Inner City Press was never given a hearing by Smale before her August 17 letter with withdrew Inner City Press media accreditation. Nothing in it said anything about a ban from entering the UN as a person, a tourist, or in another other way. But this is what happened, without any recourse. Pure Kafka-esque censorship, by a former New York Times Berlin bureau chief to hinder coverage of the corruption of the former Portuguese prime minster Antonio Guterres, see September 23 New York Post here. What next? Watch this site.


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