Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Follow us on TWITTER

Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

At UN, French Obama Diss Report Led to Lebanese Press Ban, Collective Punishment Alleged, Ongoing Blacklist Denied

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, November 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 Gerard Araud.
   This set off a diplomatic chain reaction that resulted in the French Mission to the UN banning the Lebanese press from briefings and, at least some sources say, in the firing of the journalist.

  According to 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).

  Two results are 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.

  Incontrovertibly the 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.

The French Mission, when asked by Inner City Press to comment for this story, provided the following statement by spokesman Stephane Crouzat:

“Dear Matthew, 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

   But numerous 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.

Footnotes: Ambassador Gerard Araud, as evidenced most recently by his on 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 diplomats at the UN.

  But press access issues at the French Mission to the UN predate Araud's arrival, back at least to a visit by President Nicolas Sarkozy during which a “French passport only” briefing was held in the UN press room.

   While 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.

 It should 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:

Subject: 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 Press
Date: Sun, Nov 7, 2010 at 5:13 PM

As you 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.

Al-Jazeera decided 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.

The 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.

Thank you very much,

Khaled Dawoud

* * *

As UN Says It Probes New Darfur Attack, Silence from Council on Sudan Press Crackdown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 3 -- With the UN speaking less and less on human rights, the UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Darfur has provided fewer and fewer reports about casualties of fighting in the area, about arrests and crackdowns on media.

  On November 3, 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 headquarters.

  Some three hours later, Nesirky's office confirmed, only over the loudspeaker squawk 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.”

  But most of these 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.

   The UN has still 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 November 3.

  Written questions 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

  At the Security 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 US State Department's spokesman PJ Crowley, then Ambassador Susan Rice, spoke and wrote on the topic.

  As Ambassador 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.

  Lyall Grant 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, from Minute 3:04.

France, on the other hand, has at the UN had nearly nothing to say publicly about Darfur, or even the wider Sudan. Watch this site.

From the UN's transcript of Tuesday, November 2:

Inner CityPress: Does the 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?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: On 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 freely.

Inner City Press: Human 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?

Spokesperson: Well, you 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.

Inner City Press: Sorry, I’m sorry…

Spokesperson: Yes, there are other people who have questions.

Inner City Press: I 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.

Spokesperson: Let me find out, Matthew. Let me find out.

We're still waiting.  From the UN's November 3 transcript:

Inner City Press: on 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.

Spokesperson Nesirky: We will ask them. All right, thanks very much. Good afternoon, everybody.

[The Spokesperson later added 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.]

  Watch this site.

Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2010 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -