Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

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

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

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


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

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

On India US Congratulates Modi While UN Guterres Censors Press and Refuses South Asia Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A

UNITED NATIONS GATE, May 24 – The US Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo through spokesperson Morgan Ortagus has today said, "The United States offers its congratulations to Narendra Modi and his National Democratic Alliance on their decisive victory in India’s national elections.  India’s elections are the largest exercise in democracy in human history and serve as an inspiration to democracies and individuals around the world.  We applaud the Indian people for turning out to vote in historic numbers and the Government of India for their exceptional execution of this massive undertaking.  The United States and India enjoy a strong strategic partnership that stands on a foundation of shared values, extensive people-to-people ties, and a commitment to a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.  We look forward to working with the newly elected government on a range of important issues, including expanding economic and energy ties, enhancing defense and security cooperation, countering the threat of terrorism, and enhanced collaboration in space.  We are confident that the strong and upward trajectory of our partnership will continue."

Inner City Press has India, Pakistan and other South Asia questions for the UN regime of Antonio Guterres - but under his new ghoulish  system  of roughing up and banning the Press, now 324 days, and refusing to answer its written questions, the stonewalling face of the UN is that of UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric and Pakistan's Daily Dawn's Masood Haider, classic video here. We'll have more on this. After having covered the UN since 2005 for Inner City Press, and pursued stories of UN under-performance from Sri Lanka to Darfur and Haiti to Yemen and Cameroon, at 4 pm on Friday 17 August 2018 I got a four page letter from Under Secretary General Alison Smale, formerly the New York Times' Berlin bureau chief. We've put the letter on Scribd here, Patreon download here

The letter informed me, without a single opportunity to be heard and offer rebuttal, that “your accreditation is hereby withdrawn pursuant to the Guidelines.” It cited what it called three previous warnings. But on further inspection there is no there, there. And Grand Inquisitor Alison Smale didn't even consider, or acknowledge, that Inner City Press had responded to the spurious complaints -- from the Morocco mission to the UN on 17 March 2017 and from DPI Deputy Maher Nasser, who blocks Inner City Press on Twitter, on 20 October 2017.

  Smale's misuse of the Morocco complaint, if not reversed, would set a precedent in that in Guterres' UN member states which don't like a particular journalist can file frivolous complaints and get the journalist banned. On 17 March 2017, after engaging in entirely legal live streaming from the UN Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press received this: "From: Marija D. Rokuiziene
Date: Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 12:59 PM
Subject: Re: Turkish Lounge
To: Matthew Lee, Inner City Press
Cc: Hua Jiang <jiang1 [at]>, Hak-Fan Lau <lau [at]>, Tal Mekel <mekel [at]>
Dear Matthew,
It was recently brought to our attention by one UN Mission that recording was taking place in a restricted area of the second floor, at the Turkish Lounge near the Security Council.
You were mentioned by name in this regard, and we take the opportunity of this sensitive occurrence to remind you that the Turkish Lounge is not part of the stake out area and is off limits to media unless invited by the delegation, and that filming and/or recording of private conversations is not permitted.
Marija D.Rokuiziene
Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit
United Nations - S-248"
 The complaint was entirely false, as Inner City Press immediately pointed out, in writing: "From: Matthew R. Lee
Date: Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 1:29 PM
Subject: Re: Turkish Lounge - formal response and requests, please confirm receipt
To: "Marija D. Rokuiziene"
Cc: "matthew. lee", Hua Jiang Hak-Fan Lau, Tal Mekel
For your information, on Friday March 17 I was in the press area of the UNSC stakeout, after the 3 pm meeting. I took a photograph of the Polisario delegation, with Christopher Ross, going up to the 38th floor.
There were diplomats I recognized to be from the Moroccan Mission sitting in the so-called Turkish Lounge. I did not record any conversation or take any photo of them (although in the past, Moroccan Ambassador Omar Hilale has invited me to photograph him and his associate there).
After I took and tweeted photograph of Polisario and UN official Ross going up, a Moroccan diplomat / associate walked the UN Security officer at the turnstile my pass no longer works on; the officer came over and told me, seemingly apologetically, that the diplomat can said I shouldn't take photographs.
 I said I was within my rights to take photographs from the stakeout, but I nevertheless - in light of DPI's / MALU's previous punative acts with no due process, and ongoing restrictions after more than 1 year - left the UNSC stakout.
I consider this complaint by Morocco to be an attempt to limit coverage of the Western Sahara issue. Given DPI's / MALU's previous actions, if any of this is put in my / Inner City Press' history or file with MALU this must be included to.
This is a formal request to see my / Inner City Press' file. And this is, again, a request to be returned to Inner City Press' long time shared office S-303A, and a statement for the record that Akhbhar al Yom and its correspondent, assigned without tranparency 303-A after DPI's no due process eviction of Inner City Press, do not meet the stated rules of three days a day, have asked no questions, and should be in the bullpen and Inner City Press' office and resident correspondent status restored.
Please confirm receipt and provided the requested information / file as well as the list of those waiting for office space, the prioritization the UN has assigned and the reasons therefor.
Thank you.
Matthew Russell Lee, Esq., Inner City Press
Past (and future) Office at UN: Room S-303, UN HQ, NY NY 10017."  (The list was never provided; Inner City Press' office was given to an Egyptian state media whose essentially retired correspondent, a president of UNCA in 1984, rarely come in and has not asked a question of the UN in a decade.) This came as Morocco Ambassador Omar Hillale has used the Security Council UNTV microphone to berate Inner City Press and me for asking too many questions about this country, its occupation of Western Sahara and mistreatment of the people of the Rif. To allow a bad faith complaint to be used by Guterres' Smale - in bad faith - to then ban the journalist for life is a new low. It calls into question which state(s) Smale and Guterres have taken or encouraged complaints from. Cameroon? France? Smale's bad faith letter ruling must be reversed.

  The latter is equally bad in its way, since a DPI official mis-using his position as Nasser did was the subject of Inner City Press timely request to Smale that she recuse herself (which she refused to do - she has functioned, after all, as Antonio Guterres Global Censor). After receiving via DPI's Tal Mekel at 6 pm on Friday 20 October 2017 a letter clearly drafted by Nasser, Inner City Press immediately published a story about it. The Free UN Coalition for Access, an actual press freedom advocacy group which DPI's Hua Jiang had threatened my accreditation for posting a sign for on my then office door, put out a press release and flier. And on Monday 23 March 17 before 11 am I sent the following to DPI including Smale (who has never responded to one of my more than a dozen e-mails, while openly laughing and socializing with corporate correspondents who are her friends) and to Guterres and his deputy Amina J. Mohammed: "From: Matthew R. Lee
Date: Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 10:18 AM
Subject: Response to UN to threat to accreditation of Inner City Press, which is retaliatory, vague and contrary to freedom of the press
To: Tal Mekel , SGCentral , amina.mohammed [at], alison.smale [at]
Cc: nasser [at], funca, The Free UN Coalition for Access

Dear Mr. Mekel, and those UN officials copied below (SG Guterres, DSG Mohammed, USG Smale, etc) --

The UN threat letter sent to me after 5 pm on Friday, attached, coming as it does as Inner City Press pursues stories not only of UN corruption but, most pressingly, inaction amid mass killings in Cameroon and elsewhere is troubling.

It has the obvious effect of discouraging reporting. For example, while it flatly states that I “breached” a rule during a photo op on the 38th floor, it does not say how, or even what day or which photo op.

The effect is to discourage me from covering any of these photo ops / meetings on the 38th floor, since I have no way of knowing when I will be charged with a violation under which you “may” review my accreditation.

This vagueness is contrary to, for example, the US First Amendment, but also numerous UN-claimed principles of freedom of the press and due process.

As to Mr Nasser's misuse of the DPI / MALU threat process to try to win an argument he escalated on Twitter on October 19, saying I should be less negative about the UN when I noted how many clicks it takes to find sexual abuse and exploitation information on the new DPKO site he promoted - before he blocked me on October 20 -- great outreach there, now communications are broken off -- the audio linked to in the article is from the stakeout area by the Secretariat lobby elevators. It did not violate even this rule that the DPI and DSS mis-negotiated, not with the press corps but a subset of the UN Correspondents Association, whose members by the way do not obtain or even seek prior consent for recording, and membership in which is not and cannot be required to be a resident correspondent.

But to Inner City Press, the UN writes in fine Kafka-esque style: “we would like to remind you that filming and recording on the 38th floor are limited to official photo opportunities, and recording conversations of others in the room is not permitted. It has been brought to our attention that you breached that rule recently. Please kindly take note that any further violation of the guidelines and established journalistic standards could lead to a review of your accreditation status.” When was the breach? If a UN official says or does something embarrassing during a photo op, can the UN review Inner City Press' accreditation?

Your letter unless and until retracted means that publications which even link to audio that one participant in which is embarrassed of can have their accreditations reviewed: for example, if a UN official participating in a meeting on the 38th floor recorded it and, being disgusted by the UN's actions or inaction leaked it to the press, the press could be reviewed for publishing their audio recorded “without consent.”

This is, again, obviously contrary to, for example, the US First Amendment, but also numerous UN-claimed principles of freedom of the press and due process.

The outstanding request, to MALU, USG Smale, SG Guterres and DSG Mohammed, that Inner City Press resident corresponent access and work space S-303 which was wrongful taken without hearing or appeal 20 months ago as I pursued the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery scandal which resulted this summer in six guilty verdicts, is below and incorporated herein by reference and I insist on a response to my two letters to then-new USG Smale in September. I was told there is an awareness of the need to show Inner City Press the “courtesy” of a response, but there has still been none, until the October 20 accreditation threat was the response.

The UN should care about, and not seek to hinder, reporting on for example the killings in Cameroon and even UN corruption. Threats of censorship are not the way to accomplish this. Inner City Press should be restored to its resident correspondent accreditation and shared workspace S-303, both of which were taken 20 months ago in retaliation for covering UN corruption in connection with Ng Lap Seng and, if there is some problem in your view with reporting and broadcasting what UN officials say, rules should be proposed that do not so blatantly violate the very principles of freedom of the press that the UN preaches to others. Inner City Press is more than willing to work in this regard."  So where is that, in Smale's hit job lifetime ban letter? To simply recite complaints, by your own deputy, while ignored the detailed responses that were filed at the time shows bad faith. Smale's letter must be reversed - and more. Watch this site.
Inner City Press had informed Smale, and Secretary General Antonio Guterres who is ultimately responsible for this, that Smale must recuse herself.

As part of its coverage of the UN in the past year I have heard from whistleblowers in Smale's Department of Public Information that she diverted funds intended for Swahili programming to her avowed focused, getting better coverage for Guterres particularly on social media.

But Smale did not recuse herself, and Guterres who refused my polite question to him on July 20 why this censorship was taking place and why he had been so silent as Cameroon killed Anglophones in the North-West and South-West regions of the country, did not make her recuse. Nor did he recuse himself, despite my timely request that the President of the General Assembly, and not the obviously conflicted Guterres and Smale, take charge of any review deemed necessary.

What is most troubling about the UN's August 17 dis-accreditation letter is how vague it is, and inaccurate the few times it gets specific.

The UN claims that on 3 July 2018 I “attempted to gain unauthorized access to a locked area of the UN.” But as I reported at the the time, and my Periscope video subsequently used by Fox News and The UK Independent shows, I was in the UN's much traveled Vienna Cafe. (Guterres' Assistant Secretary General Christian Saunders, whose involvement in a UN procurement scandal I previously reported, was also there: he oversaw the assault and the next day told me he doesn't like my articles.)

  On July 3 I was staking out -- that is, standing outside of - the UN Budget Committee meetings. In fact, I had been informed of the meetings by UN personnel and diplomats had invited me down in order to tell me, as a reported, what was going on.

Ironically it was with Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe that I had just spoken when UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins and another officer who had still been identified by the UN approached me from behind, grabbed and twisted my arm, grabbed and damaged my laptop computer and tore my shirt. I recoiled and said, loudly, “I am a journalist, covering a meeting!” To Smale, this is incivility, enough to be permanently banned from the UN for.

Next, at the top of page 3 of the letter, Smale runs through a litany of supposed violations without providing any details, nor acknowledging that other correspondents more friendly to Guterres and her are allowed to do these things routinely. Smale pillories my “presence on UN premises outside authorized time periods as stipulated in the Guidelines.”

But those Guidelines, even as selectively quoted by Smale at the top of page 2 of her letter, make clear that I was permitted past 7 pm to cover an advised meeting - such as the July 3 UN Budget Committee meeting considering a $6.7 billion expenditure of public funds or the June 22 event in the UN General Assembly lobby featuring a speech in which Guterres bragged about fasting in Mali.

On June 22, not mentioned in Smale's August 17 letter but alleged as a “repeat violation” by Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq in a July 5 article, the same Lieutenant Dobbins and four Emergency Response Unit officers he summoned and then told not to give their names, pushed me out of the UN even as other non resident correspondents were allowed to remain in. There is video, here.

Days before that first roughing up of Inner City Press by UN Security but clearly green-lighted from higher up, Guterres' lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a person who tried to speak with him on my behalf to get the UN to stop requiring me to have a minder or escort as they have since February 2016 that things would be getting worse for me. It seems clear Dujarric knew about or had already ordered the physical targeting of Inner City Press any time after 7 pm, even if an advised meeting or Guterres speech was taking place.

But a telling omission in Smale's letter is that as recently as June 26 dozens of non resident correspondents were allowed to stay in the UN past 7 pm drinking with Guterres on the North Lawn, ghoulishly in the name of press freedom with Smale. The event was not advised in the UN Media Alert, and I know that UN Security could not have been given a list of approved non resident correspondents since my timely RSVP to cover the event which had yet another canned Guterres speech was never answered. I was told by the organizer of that pro-Guterres event that the RSVP was ignored because it was open to all correspondents. Again, there is video in my contemporaneous coverage. Maybe this is why Smale and Guterres - and Dujarric - say livestreaming is a problem to be solved with Security violence and banning.

Since as Smale says there are thousands of those, many of whom write few articles and ask fewer questions, there is no way UN Security had a list of non resident correspondent to NOT beat up after 7 pm. They just decided / were told to start roughing up critical Inner City Press, sometime between June 22 until the July 3 assault which I reported on July 4 to the NYPD and was told, while a report was taken, that the UN asserts immunity. (That's the problem.)

Next Smale asserts I have been in locations not authorized by the Guidelines - without giving a single example. This does not comply with due process, to put it mildly. One wonder how it took the UN 45 days to write this (except for the desire to slow-walk things to try to prevent Inner City Press from covering the UN General Assembly in September). Even at censorship, today's UN is incompetent, particularly given the public money it requests and spends (that $6.7 billion again).

It is the “live broadcasts” -- reporting and commentary subject to protection under the First Amendment of the US Constitution and UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 - that Smale next takes issue with. She cites, again without any example, profanities and derogatory assertions.

But Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric repeatedly used profanity, specifically the F-word, in the briefing room including telling me, “Matthew that's a stupid f*cking question.” Even more dispositively a former president of the UN Correspondents Association, Giampaoli Pioli who had ordered me to remove from the Internet an article about him arranging a UN screening for the Sri Lanka Ambassador of a film denying his country's war crimes after having had the Ambassador as his paying tenant in one of his many Manhattan apartment - the reason I quit UNCA - once called me an “assh*le” at the UN Security Council stakeout, during an advised meeting.

It happened at the Security Council stakeout so it was recorded, audio here. But DPI did nothing about this profanity and “derogatory assertion” by the president of UNCA, become their UN Censorship Alliance. So there is no rule, less enough of one to ban me for life.

There is another vague reference to refusing to obey UN Security officers, impossible to respond to and troubling in light of the video of Lt Dobbins and his colleague pulling me, and tearing my shirt. Is one not allowed to say, “I am a journalist?” What would Smale do?

  What Smale does NOT do is public financial disclosure. As Inner City Press first reported, and asked Dujarric to explain without getting any answer, Smale is not listed in Guterres' online roster of public financial disclosures, unlike for example official Natalia Gherman, who was awarded her UN post after Smale.

Not that Guterres has a good record on transparency. As Inner City Press has asked him without response, Guterres has yet to even order a UN audit of the China Energy Fund Committee / Patrick Ho - President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa UN bribery case that Inner City Press, alone from (then?) among the UN press corps, has been covering at the Federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, including with the Smale, Dujarric and Guterres reviled Periscope livestream.

 Guterres did not act on Inner City Press' 25 June 2018 letter to alleging nepotism in the handing of the management of the Security Council's website to the photographer husband of the chief of staff of the Department of Political Affairs, nor on Inner City Press now ironic request that he provide protect to the Press being target. It was Guterres, it turns out, who was and is behind the targeting.

Most Orwellian, halfway through page 3 Smale attempts to use questions I have had to ask at the UN Delegates Entrance since she and Guterres banned me from the UN Security Council stakeout from July 3 on. At that new stakeout, I have interviewed among others outgoing Human Rights Commissioner Prince Zeid (whose abuse of whistleblowers I have also reported) and Permanent Representatives such as those from Kazakhstan and even Burundi. So which unnamed member states is Smale claiming have complained to her and Guterres: Cameroon? The United Kingdom? France? Morocco?

In fact, one of the three specific (now in retrospect devious) warning letter Smale cites involved the Moroccan delegation falsely claiming I could not take photographs or record and live-stream at the UN Security Council stakeout. But the Guidelines permit that.

The DPI staff who passed along the Morocco complaint were orally apologetic but that's now for naught. The Kafkaesque file was being built. The last of the complaints is the most self-serving: Smale's own deputy Maher Nasser, in an abuse of position that I complained to Smale in writing about prior to her “ruling,” directed to a letter to me claiming I could not record him in an approved stakeout area. It's that he was embarrassed by what he said, and he since then has blocked me on Twitter, another strange practice for a UN official but once that Dujarric himself has engaged in.

Smale claimed in a July 19 response to the DC-based whistleblower protection group Government Accountability Project that Dujarric and the four other spokespeople his office would be answering my e-mailed question in respect to what she called my “journalistic endeavour.” This was repeated today to BuzzFeed's Hayes Brown, here. But they answer less than 20% of the questions - one a day, the easiest of the five I ask - and I am being banned from covering the UN Security Council, whose mishandling of Yemen and Myanmar, and non-handling or worse of Cameroon I have a right to cover and Inner City Press' audience have a right to follow online including in live-streams. Most pressingly, Guterres and Smale want to block me from covering member states in the UN General Assembly high level week in late September, the deadline for accreditation for which is September. A conflicted Secretariat has no right to ban a well-read media from covering this diplomatic dance of nations. This corruption and censorship must be reversed, and acted on, before September 5.

The final sin cited by Smale is that when Inner City Press was unjustly evicted from its long time shared office, for having asserted a right to cover events in the UN Press Briefing Room unless some official paper said it was closed - and nevertheless leaving as soon as requested by a UN Security officer - it did not move its years of files out fast enough. In fact, I was advised at that time that UN DPI's and the Office of the Secretary General's lawless crusade against Inner City Press might still be turned around; from February 19 until April 16, 2016 I did not enter or “occupy” the office, even when I could have. It was the UN which ultimately dumped my files out onto First Avenue then, as Guterres and Smale have now dumped me, with conflicts of interest and without due process.

Can this pseudo-legal permanent censorship order stand? I will do everything in my power that the answer is no, and that I can return to covering the UN the same as pro-Guterres state media from countries like Morocco and the Gulf, and corporate media which only want easy quotes and no critique. If freedom of the press means anything, this will not stand.



Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

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 2006-2018 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for