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After France "Reserves" UN Briefing Room, Spox Says Others Did Too

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 25 -- On September 23, the entourage of French President Francois Hollande repeatedly ordered the UN accredited Press to leave the UN's Press Briefing RoomVideo here.

  On September 25 when the Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who peaked out from the VIP / Green Room behind the Press Briefing Room, about the incident, he said sometimes countries try to reserve the Room.

   Asked if other countries had done so during this General Assembly, Dujarric said yes.

   Inner City Press then asked Dujarric which other countries, beyond his native France:

based on your answer at today's noon briefing, please state which countries during this UNGA have used the UN Press Briefing Room for briefing not open to all UN correspondents, other than France at 11 am on September 23. Also, what was your role on September 23 around 11 am in the room behind the Press Briefing Room podium?

 This has been Dujarric's response:

Subject: please state which countries..
From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 1:06 PM
To: Inner City Press
Cc: funca <funca [at] funca.info>

I don't have the information on the first point for you. On the second, I'm not sure that I understand it except that I was just looking into the room. I tend to be a curious person.

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations Headquarters

   FUNCA is left wondering: ARE there any other countries? The question has been asked again by FUNCA, elsewhere.

  On September 23, a briefing by Hollande had been scheduled for 11 am, then the UN announced that it was canceled. But at 10:55 am as a previous briefing about climate change was ending, Inner City Press was told to leave the room.

  The question, On whose orders? was not answered. Instead a woman in the French delegation said the room was "reserved."

   This is not a restaurant, Inner City Press replied, now on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, which advocates for the rights of journalists and for a Freedom of Information Act covering the UN.

  Another member of the French delegation said loudly, "They'll take away his accreditation."

  It was not necessarily an idle threat: the UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric had peered out of the VIP / Green Room behind the briefing room as this happened.

   Inner City Press said, if UN Media Accreditation -- or UN Security -- tell me to leave, I will. But not before. Video here.

  Meanwhile the representative of the old UN Correspondents Alliance meekly left; previously, UNCA did nothing when previous French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud in this room told a Lebanese reporter, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent."

  After a time, the woman from Hollande's entourage said that the chief of UN Media Accreditation, whom she made a point of saying she knows well, was not answering the phone. A French security guard told Inner City Press to leave. But this is not their role, in the UN briefing room.

  Finally the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and the new Permanent Representative to the UN came and sat in the front room with Inner City Press and FUNCA.  Hollande appeared from the doorway Spokesman Dujarric had looked out of.

  Hollande said he had come mostly about climate change, but that a French citizen had been taken hostage in Algeria by a group linked with ISIL or "Da'ech," as he called the group. He said arms deliveries would continue; he noted the previous night's air strikes, by others, on Syria.

  Hollande said he would meet in the afternoon with the Syrian Opposition Coalition's Hadi al Bahra, who he called the only legitimate leader of Syria. Then he left without taking questions.

  The day before, UNCA hosted al Bahra (as they had his predecessor Ahmad Jarba) in the clubhouse the UN gives this group, publicized only to those which pay it dues. Given that UNCA did nothing when Araud told the Lebanese reporter "you are not a journalist, you are an agent," why didn't Hollande hold his press conference in the club of UNCA, the UN's Censorship Alliance?


 

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