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UN Threatens To Ban Press for Sign of Free UN Coalition for Access

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- On a day when the UN refused requests by Inner City Press to explain why it continues to support units of the Congolese Army which committed 135 rapes in Minova in late November, and began a witch hunt against a UN Mine Action Service whistleblower in Somalia, its Department of Public Information ratcheted up threats to throw Inner City Press out of the UN, or withdraw it accreditation.

   What are the charges?

   Exclusive reporting on UNMAS in Somalia sharing genetic information from bombings with US intelligence? Exposure of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous for having covered up the 135 Minova rapes, including at a stakeout where Ladsous' spokesman seized the microphone supposedly managed by DPI?

  No - Inner City Press' sin has been to co-found the Free UN Coalition for Access as an alternative to DPI's and Ban Ki-moon partner UNCA, and to put a simple FUNCA sign on the door of its office. Here is a photo of the sign, here.

   Monday afternoon DPI sent the following e-mail to Inner City Press:

Subject: signs on the door
From: Hua Jiang [at]
Date: Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 3:52 PM
To: Inner City Press
Cc: Stephane Dujarric [at], Isabelle Broyer [at]

Dear Matthew,

We have taken note that you have not until now remove the signs on your office door as per the United Nations Guidelines on Media Access, despite repeated requests communicated to you by emails and verbally by DPI officials.

We reserve the right to take actions according to the Guidelines which stipulate that those violate the rules may have their accreditation withdrawn or suspended.


Hua Jiang
Chief, Press Service, UN DPI

  Of the two individuals cc-ed, the first received and even solicited, including to his private non-UN email address, stealth requests to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN from Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, Agence France Presse, Voice of America and others.

  The second led a non-consensual raid of Inner City Press' office on March 18, 2013, took photos of the Press' desk and bookshelf and shared them beyond DPI (they later appeared in BuzzFeed, leaked by a “Concerned UN Reporter” account after BuzzFeed called Ban's spokesman for comment on the raid.)

   Having to stop covering the day's Security Council meeting about Sexual Violence and Conflict, the following response to DPI was prepared and sent:

Hello. The Free UN Coalition for Access has among other things asked, so far without answer, how it is legitimate that the UNCA Executive Committee member next door has pro-UN signs all over his door and has not been asked to take them down.

Unless this is just some kind of witch hunt against FUNCA (or any alternative to UNCA), that should be explained.

Also, separately, the Media Accreditation Guidelines do not provide any exception or exemption for UNCA. Are you trying to outlaw any alternative to UNCA?

Finally, Peter (who I will cc) after a one hour discussion last week told me he would be sending me, in writing, some sort of DPI proposed road map for FUNCA. While objecting to the idea of the UN seeking to dictate the corporate or other form of a free press group that seeks to advocate for greater media access -- where are the promised “lines”?

And given the failure to explain the different with the pro-UN signs, the legitimacy of trying to outlaw FUNCA signs while leaving two UNCA signs up, and the failure to send the promised lines, can you further explain the threat in your email?

Also, what happened on the request by the NY Civil Liberties Union last July that DPI make public rules for withdrawing or suspending accreditation, which you seem to be doing here -- for the posting of a sign of a media freedom organization?

Awaiting your written response,

Matthew Russell Lee, for the Free UN Coalition for Access
Office c/o Inner City Press, Room S 303, UN HQ, NY NY 10017
Email: funca [at] -

And we're still waiting.

While not explaining a single thing about the lawless threat, this arrived:

Subject: Re: Request you acknowledge receipt RE Please explain double standard for pro-UN signs, UNCA signs, failure to provide promised "road map," failure to adopt rules as requested by NYCLU
From: Hua Jiang [at]
Date: Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 5:04 PM
To: Inner City Press
Cc: Stephane Dujarric [at], Isabelle Broyer [at], Peter,

Dear Matthew,

We have received your email.


Hua Jiang
Chief, Press Service, UN DPI

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