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FUNCA Asks UN of Dieudonne After France Picks Qs, Reuters Censors Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 23 -- Amid attacks on journalists and freedom of expression in countries all over the world, the United Nations under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is no sanctuary, nor champion, the Free UN Coalition for Access has found.  Sometimes, however, it is better than member states.

 On January 22 France and Germany controlled a press conference in the UN briefing room. French minister Harlem Desir called for social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to crack down on anti-Semitic posts.

 Inner City Press, including for the new Free UN Coalition for Access, sought to asked the French minister about the detention of comedian Dieudonne, after the Hollande government's unequivocal support for Charlie Hebdo's cartoons.

 But the question was not allowed: the French mission called on the old UN Correspondents Association, a representative who did not complain when Hollande took over the UN briefing room in September, and then on France 24. (Germany called on ARD and DPA.)

  Reuters wrote up the French proposal -- ironically by a scribe, Charbonneau, who himself has used false filings for censorship, calling his own leaked anti-Press email a copyrighted work, here, to get it removed and censored from Google's Search.

 On January 23, Inner City Press for FUNCA asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the detention of Dieudonne, transcript here:

Inner City Press / Free UN Coalition for Access: I've been meaning to ask this for a few days. In France, after the understandable, and I guess, laudable rallying around the cartoons and the right to draw what you want, the comedian Dieudonné was arrested for something he posted on Facebook. And I wanted to know, what does the Secretary-General think of the arrest of a comedian right after the Government championed another form of satire?

Spokesman Dujarric: I understand. I'm not going to get into the details of that particular case, but I think if you… if I could reread what I just said, I think it's important that any laws that are there to criminalize or regulate hate speech be applied equally so that the laws themselves don't generate further discord.

  It's a better answer than France - which did not even allow the questions. As to the UN,  beyond stealth attempts to get the Press thrown out of the UN, there is often little but platitudes about attacks elsewhere.  FUNCA is Pressing the issue.

  On January 20, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Bahrain sentencing Nabeel Rajab to six months in jail for a single tweet. Video here.

  Spokesman Dujarric said he expected a statement on that later in the day -- three hours later there was none -- then cited the right of expression, generally.

 The day before on January 19, Inner City Press on behalf of FUNCA asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq about Turkey having ordered Twitter, Google and Facebook to remove content by BirGun about alleged Erdogan government support to Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria, and threatening to ban Twitter entirely for not taking down the BirGun feed.
   Haq replied vaguely about the right to circulate information but said he would not speculate about the future of Twitter in Turkey.  Video here.

  It is not speculation: earlier this year Turkey banned both Twitter and YouTube. The Erdogan government has made the same (mis) use of copyright claims to censor leaked material as Reuters at the UN, here.


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