Obama Diss Report Led to Lebanese Press Ban, Collective Punishment
Alleged, Ongoing Blacklist Denied
5, updated Nov. 7 -- In
September a newspaper in Lebanon ran a quote from a
“Western diplomat” saying that even US President Barack Obama couldn't
stop the Special Tribunal on Lebanon investigating the bombing that
killed Rafiq Hariri, under a quote by French ambassador to the UN
This set off a diplomatic chain reaction that resulted in
Mission to the UN banning the Lebanese press from briefings and, at
least some sources
say, in the firing of the journalist.
multiple sources, and as partially confirmed by French Mission
spokesman Stephane Crouzat, when the Assafir newspaper in Lebanon
published without byline a reference to Obama not being able to
stop the STL, the French Mission immediately traced it to journalist
Khaled Dawoud, then employed by Al Jazeera but also reporting for
Assafir (sometimes spelled As Safir).
not in dispute: Mr. Dawoud, and also other Lebanese reporters, were
barred from subsequently briefings by Ambassador Araud. Additionally,
Mr. Dawoud's employment with Al Jazeera ended. At least three sources
affirm that the French diplomatic corps reached out to Al Jazeera.
Others say it was based on complaints and a power struggle with Al
Jazeera's Washington bureau chief.
reporter Khalid Dawoud was told by Al Jazeera that his services
were no longer needed. The upshot, the sources say, is that a
country which claims to be for freedom of the press acted such that a
UN correspondent lost his job.
Mission, when asked by Inner City Press to comment for this story,
provided the following statement by spokesman Stephane Crouzat:
In response to your questions: A Lebanese journalist
writing under a pseudonym did not respect the off the record rules.
France did not receive any complaint from the USA. French diplomats
did not call any news media in this regard. The French mission will
continue to work with all journalists who abide by the rules.”
Araud on Nov. 5, Lebanese press not shown
sources have told Inner City Press that other Lebanese reporters
beyond Mr. Daoud have been barred from French mission briefings; the
sources liken this to collective punishment. Some Lebanese reporters,
and this one, have been told they -- journalists
for Lebanese media -- are not on any ongoing blacklist.
We'll see. Watch this site.
Araud, as evidenced most recently by his
the record Q&A
with the press after the Security Council's November 5 session about
the STL, is among the more articulate and self depreciating
at the UN.
press access issues at the French Mission to the UN
predate Araud's arrival, back at least to a visit by
Nicolas Sarkozy during which a “French passport only” briefing
was held in the UN press room.
there are rumors of Araud soon
leaving New York and the UN, one hopes the over-controlling and de
facto blacklists, the use of access for leverage, can stop.
also be noted that Dawoud never attributed the quote that even Obama can't stop the STL
to Araud, but rather to a "Western diplomat." The fault, if there is
one, may lie with the location of the quote in Assafir's wider story.
Update of November 7: While the
story was and is not about Mr Dawoud, out of journalistic comity we
publish the majority of the following letter:
re “At UN, French Obama Diss Report Led to Lebanese Press
Ban, Collective Punishment Alleged, Ongoing Blacklist Denied”
From: khaled dawoud
To: Inner City
Date: Sun, Nov 7, 2010 at 5:13 PM
know, the golden rule in our profession is: reporters make the
news, but should not be in the news. I will not dispute the two facts
you mentioned in the story: 1- I no longer work as Al-Jazeera Arabic
correspondent in New York, and 2- I did have a misunderstanding with
the French mission to the UN. In both cases, I do not want to get
into details, except to say that my departure from Al-Jazeera had
nothing whatsoever to do with the French mission in New York.
not to renew contract for purely administrative differences
that’s been going on for a while, and there was no relation at all
to a complaint from the French mission. I do freelance for Assafir,
and indeed there was misunderstanding with the French mission in New
York over a news report the paper published in September by its
correspondent in Paris, and not by me.
French mission were also
unhappy that I used some of what French Ambassador to the UN told a
group of reporters in a background briefing as a “Western
diplomat”, but they said that was mainly because they did not know
I freelance for Lebanon’s daily Assafir. I did not think this was a
big issue, but they are certainly entitled to their point of view. I
continue to maintain a professional relationship with the French
mission to the UN, and I believe French spokesman, Stephane Crouzat,
is trying to be as helpful as he could. I don’t like to be in the
news at all, and my job is to report the news.
* * *
Probes New Darfur Attack, Silence from Council on Sudan Press
By Matthew Russell Lee
-- With the UN speaking less and less on human
rights, the UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Darfur has provided fewer
and fewer reports about casualties
in the area, about
arrests and crackdowns on media.
Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman
Martin Nesirky why UNAMID had nothing to say about days old reports
of a new attack on civilians in Tawila, leading to at least 18
casualties being taken to the hospital in El Fasher, UNAMID's
later, Nesirky's office confirmed, only over the loudspeaker
system in the UN press floor and not anywhere in writing, that UNAMID
is “aware of reports” of
the attack on Tawila and “is investigating them... there have been
other incidents recently.”
incidents, UNAMID has had no comment on. Many observers opine that
UNAMID's silence emboldens the government and its proxies to step up
their attacks on civilians in Darfur.
not spoken on arrests by the Sudanese authorities in the Darfur IDP
camps, both Abu Shouk where the UN Security Council visited, and now
in Al Salaam in North Darfur, about which Inner City Press asked on
directed to Nesirky's office on November 2
about UNAMID's selective reporting -- and not just
Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier's -- and about UN
conflicts of interest and UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari's mode of
transport have still not been answered.
IDPs in Tawila, protection of civilians not shown
Council stakeout earlier on November 3, Inner City Press asked this
month's Council president Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, the lead
country on Darfur, if the Council planned any meeting, discussion or
action on the Government's radio station closure. On November 2, the
PJ Crowley, then Ambassador
on the topic.
Rice entered the Council Wednesday morning for a Council meeting about
Ivory Coast, Inner City Press asked if the US would be asking for
Security Council action on this issue.
later on Wednesday, after the meeting, told Inner City Press that
“as President of the Security Council, there are no plans to
discuss the issue specifically” although he said Sudan is “the
centerpiece of the British presidency” of the Council. He added
that in his national capacity, the UK regrets any restriction on free
press, especially at this “sensitive time.” Video here,
other hand, has at the UN had nearly nothing to say publicly about
even the wider Sudan. Watch this site.
Tuesday, November 2:
UN have any comment on these arrests of Darfur
human rights activists, both in Khartoum and in Darfur, the closing
of a radio station, and can it confirm that Georg Charpentier has
said that there should be none but an essential monitoring mission
sent out from now until February, as some in Darfur are saying?
the last question, we’ll check. On the first,
likewise on the middle one about the radio station, we are aware of
those reports about the closing down of the radio station and the
reported arrests of some journalists. Clearly, we would urge the
authorities to ensure that journalists can carry out their work
Rights Watch did a report on these arrests and the
activists, saying they note that UNAMID [African Union-United Nations
Hybrid Operation in Darfur] doesn’t report on human rights
conditions, and that Charpentier hasn’t put out a report on this
since November 2009. Why did the UN stop reporting on these topics
at this important time?
asked Ms. [Valerie] Amos that, and I think that she gave
you an answer. I don’t have anything to add to what she said last
time. Maybe there will be an update at some point from the Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but I don’t have that
at the moment.
are other people who have questions.
understand, but the difficulty is that if we start at
12:15, it becomes tricky. But the human rights and the humanitarian
reporting are two separate issues. The humanitarian, I understand
that it’s a joint thing with the Government, but the human rights
reporting is something that just seems to have ceased, and some are
now saying that there’s a Joint Monitoring Assessment Centre [JMAC]
that in fact has reports of civilian deaths and doesn’t report them
to the public. Somehow they leak out to some, but… I guess I
wanted to ask you… it’s two separate things.
find out, Matthew. Let me find out.
Sudan, I wanted to ask you two factual things. There
are reports that at least eight people injured in Tawilla, where
there is a peacekeeping base, have been taken to the hospital in El
Fasher. I haven’t seen anything by UNAMID [African Union-United
Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur]; I’m just wondering if it’s
possible to get… whether UNAMID can confirm that this attack took
place, who they think did it? There are also reports of the arrest
of the leader of a refugee camp, Al Salaam in North Darfur, by the
authorities. And I’m wondering, again … these things build up,
but whether UNAMID can confirm these two incidents, and also, if
these things are true, why these things are not being said in some
way by UNAMID? And I know you may say “ask them”, but I’ve
asked them and I’ve received nothing in return.
ask them. All right, thanks very much. Good
that we are aware of these reports and are
investigating them. UNAMID is concerned about heightened military
tensions on the ground. There have been other incidents recently.
UNAMID calls on all parties to refrain from the use of force.]