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As CNN Sues Trump Over Banning of Acosta UN Guterres Has Impunity for Banning Press 132 Days

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

UNITED NATIONS, November 13 – Amid the outrage at the Trump White House suspending the credential and access of CNN's Jim Acosta - which we share, including if video was doctored, see UN Nov 8 video here - and today's well-pleaded First Amendment lawsuit it is worth noting that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 3 July 2018 has critical Inner City Press roughed up by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins as it covered the UN Budget Committee: UK Independent with video here.  Guterres and Dobbins had impunity: the UN has refused to lift (misused) legal immunity even for Dobbins.

 Then Guterres had Inner City Press' UN media accreditation, in place for ten years, suspended for weeks and weeks, with Inner City Press having to report on the UN from the sidewalk. CJR here.

  On August 17 Guterres' Global Communicator Alison Smale issued an order withdrawing Inner City Press' accreditation, without any hearing and no appeal. She never answered UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye's question about an appeals process. There is none, and the UN unlike the US government is immune from lawsuit. So it reaches out, via spokes- / hatchetman Stephane Dujarric, to those who question UN censorship, at least if they are from Europe. What does he tell them?

  To give the UN its best chance, Inner City Press on the morning of November 8 emailed questions to Guterres, his Deputy Amina Mohammed, Alison Smale, Dujarric and his Deputy Farhan Haq including: "November 8-2: I am informed that the SG's spokesman has selectively contacted those (from Europe) raising questions about the UN 3 July 2018 Press ouster and ban since, including stating that unnamed UN staff members or officials demand a lifetime ban in order to feel “safe.” Given the lack of due process, please name which officials or safe claim to feel unsafe in order to justify censorship, and the basis for your claims. Also, again, answer UNSR David Kaye's and others' question: what is the appeals process for a unilateral no due process physical ouster and banning by the UN of a journalist?" But seven hour later, no answer to any of the questions.

   So, for now due to the UN's constant threat of retaliation even against those it has unilaterally chosen to reach out to with dirt that cannot stand the light of day, this is a composite:

Dujarric claims that Inner City Press made "diplomats" feel unsafe. But he has yet to provide the name of a single diplomat, other than the false Morocco Mission complaint in USG Alison Smale's 17 August 2018 ban letter.

Dujarric claims that his staff didn't like having the movement reported on. This seems to refer to Inner City Press, once it had no office to use, working on a bench in the Secretariat lobby and noting when spokespeople who refused to even acknowledge formal questions went out to lunch. This is not a basis to ban a journalist for life.

Dujarric goes low and says that unnamed female reporters didn't want to see Inner City Press doing stand-up Periscope broadcasts. But the purpose of these -- filming on the fourth floor was permitted without an escort, Inner City Press was told by Media Accreditation -- was to show EMPTY offices, for example Morocco state media, while Inner City Press had nowhere to work. In fact, Inner City Press went out of its way not to speak with or engage in any way with Dujarric's coterie of pro UN correspondents - that why it left the building after work through the garage, which was later used against it.

  There is more, and we will have more. But it is clear these are pretexts. And even if Antonio "The Censor" Guterres, who believes it is impermissible for a journalist to do a critical stand up on the public sidewalk across two lanes of traffic from the $15 million publicly funded mansion he (sometimes) lives in believes these pretexts, an interim solution was and is clear.

 Simply allow Inner City Press in to go to the noon briefing and asked question - unless that is what they are afraid of - and to cover UNSC stakeouts and Budget Committee meetings. It is pathetic that a UN and Secretary General that be focused on "conflict prevention" can't find a solution other than violent ouster and banning for a critical journalist. We'll have more on this.

  Note that the UN has gone further, putting Inner City Press on a non -public list of people banned from all UN premises for life. Guterres even had his Security get Park East Synagogue head of security Shay Amir try to oust Inner City Press from his speech on tolerance on October 31.

  So while the outrage at the White House action on Acosta grows, as it should (the Free UN Coalition for Access opposes it, like the arrest of journalists in Cameroon), why is the UN given a free pass to rough up and ban a journalist? Is there a right or principle of free press or isn't there? It has been raised - watch this site.


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