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UN Gallach's Kafka Letter to Oust ICP Defended & Presaged by Dujarric for UNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 21 -- When the UN had Inner City Press physically thrown out of the building on February 19, with UN Security Deputy McNulty threatening twice to “turn you over to NYPD” saying Inner City Press was trespassing by being in the UN it has covered for ten years, the pretext was vagely alluded to in the first paragraph of UN official Cristina Gallach's Kafka-esque letter.

  UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who is now defending the decision Gallach made without once speaking to Inner City Press, has his own history with unappealable anti-Press letters.

  Two years ago on February 22, 2013, Gallach's predecessor Launsky-Tieffenthal convened a meeting between the insider UN Correspondents Association and the new Free UN Coalition for Access, co-founded by Inner City Press and another UNCA board member who quit UNCA for corruption.

  In the meeting, Inner City Press announced it would audio record it to have a record, since UNCA had already tried to get Dujarric to throw Inner City Press out of the UN. UNCA's then and now president Giampaolo Pioli had told Inner City Press to remove an article from the Internet or he would get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN (jump cut to today.)

  Inner City Press did tape the meeting, including temporary UNCA President Pamela Falk of CBS saying, He's taping, he's going to write about this and Inner City Press saying, Yes, that's true.

 But when Inner City Press did just that, publish an article with direct quotes from the meeting, Dujarric issued a counter-factual letter claiming that Inner City Press secretly taped the meeting and violated the same (UNCA crafted) rules Gallach is citing today.

  Inner City Press wrote that Dujarric's letter was counter-factual, and published the audio of itself saying openly, I am taping this meeting.

  Dujarric never rescinded his letter, and is now defending Gallach's letter, in which she without once speaking to Inner City Press purports to remove the resident correspondent accreditation it has had for eight years, for having sought to covering in the UN Press Briefing Room an event of... UNCA, at which the organization's role, for those who pay it money, it getting UN office space was discussed. Disgust. This is today's UN and it is UNacceptable.

 Gallach's letter cited and quoted from UN "Media Guidelines" that "when unexpected circumstances arise, the approach will be to avoid confrontation, maintain civility and find the fastest, safety and most secure acceptable solution. Those correspondents who violate the ground rules on access may have their accreditation withdrawn or suspended."

  Apparently Ms. Gallach, who has never spoken to Inner City Press about this before ruling, believes that by asserting a right to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room on Jan 29, Inner City Press violated this vague rule.

  By this logic, for example, journalist Jose Ramos who insisted on asking a question would be disaccredited and thrown out of the UN.

  Additionally, not only did UN Correspondents Association President Giampaolo Pioli in ordering Inner City Press to leave the UN Press Briefing Room says "You are mentally ill" - hardly obeying the command for civility - several UNCA board members cut taken to cutting off Inner City Press' questions in the UN briefings, and loudly commenting on them afterward.

  Reuters' Michelle Nichols, for example, said loudly "you're grasping at straws" as Inner City Press asked about the UN's interactions with indicted Frank Lorenzo (who has also interacted with Gallach, who should have been and should be recused). Story here; Dujarric's spokesperson office saw this, did nothing.

  AFP's Carole Landry, right after Inner City Press' question about when Spokesman Stephane Dujarric has "lent" out the UN Press Briefing Room as he did to French President Hollande - and to UNCA, unless Gallach was the lender -- commented loudly on and against the question, here.

  Don't those violate the rules? Are Reuters or AFP going to be ousted or have their offices taken? There are other media with smaller audiences than Inner City Press which have private offices, due to favoritism. Inner City Press doesn't make complaints under these rules. But Gallach, it seems, is only very selectively enforcing them. Violations by her (and Ban's UN's) "friends" are fine; by critics, alleged violations lead to immediate ouster without any due process. This is lawless.

  Inner City Press was told that "footage" of the UNCA event in the UN Press Briefing Room was reviewed, as if that relieved Gallach of any duty to allow Inner City Press to state its side of the story.

  First, it is strange that the UN would be videotaping a meeting of UNCA, journalists which ostensibly cover it. Are there UN camera in the big clubhouse the UN gives UNCA, too? Again, why didn't UNCA just hold its meeting in its large, UN-given clubhouse. This was unnecessary.

 By Gallach's logic, if even during a UN noon briefing some number of UNCA board members shouted for Inner City Press to leave, it should have to, to avoid confrontation. This is not journalism. Gallach's letter must be retracted.

  Gallach, who never once spoke to Inner City Press before having its UN pass deactivated and then ordering ouster on two hours notice, began her February 19 letter:

“I write with reference to an incident involving you that occurred on Friday, 29 January 2016 during the United Nations Correspondents Association Annual General Meeting.”

   As Inner City Press reported before, during and after that UNCA meeting, instead of being held in the large clubhouse the UN gives UNCA on the third floor, it was held in the UN Press Briefing Room.

  Inner City Press, and the Free UN Coalition for Access (FUNCA) contend that the Press is allowed in the UN Press Briefing Room. Contrary to or ignored by Gallach's letter, Inner City Press similarly declined to immediate leave a “private” briefing when UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric “lent” the UN Press Briefing Room to French President Francois Hollande and he tried to exclude all non-French journalist.

  Inner City Press stood up for the principle and was vindicated: the briefing was then opened to all journalists. It's called standing up for freedom of the press.

  But when Inner City Press tried to cover meeting in the same UN Press Briefing Room by UNCA, finding it newsworthy in that UNCA took tens of thousands of dollars from the South South News of now indicted Ng Lap Seng and Francis Lorenzo, somehow UNCA was given more exclusionary rights to privately use the UN Press Briefing Room than French President Hollande was.

   UNCA President Giampaolo Piolo loudly declared to Inner City Press, “You are mentally sick.” (This violates the UNCA-agreed Media Guidelines that Gallach cites, but Pioli has a private office those his articles, such as they are, concern celebrities like Morgan Freeman rather than the UN.)

  Inner City Press previously reported how Pioli, more of a landlord than a journalist, rented one of his family's Manhattan apartments to Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's ambassador to whom Pioli later granted a “UN Screen” of a Lankan war crimes denial film. Inner City Press wrote that was a conflict of interest.

   Similarly, here, Inner City Press has specifically reported on Lorenzo's association now only with UNCA but, as it happens, with Cristina Gallach. Gallach appeared with Lorenzo soon before his indictment. Yet Gallach did not, as she should have, recuse herself from ruling on the proposal to deactivate Inner City Press' UN pass and seize its files. This was an ethical breach on which we'll have more.

   Gallach, contacted by people such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta, has attempted to falsely assuage their concerns saying she is “offering” a much reduced access status to Inner City Press in the UN (perhaps, some surmise, so UNCA could selling Inner City Press' office space -- UNCA openly tells people to join it because for the UNCA dues money, you can “get” a UN office.

  Inner City Press quit UNCA, finding it a corrupt organization, and now faces having its longtime office space taken to be re-sold by UNCA. It is UNacceptable. We'll have more on this.

The UN on February 19, after Inner City Press asked about UN inaction in South Sudan and Burundi and financial irregularities, was handed a letter to leave the UN by 5 pm. Letter here.

  While Inner City Press was writing up a UN Security Council meeting on Syria that went into the evening, and Periscope broadcasting, UN Security guards walked up, grabbed Inner City Press' laptop, blocked its Periscope camera and turned off the livestream. Video here.

  Then eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty tore off Inner City Press' UN ID badge and carted off Inner City Press' laptop and camera, returning these by throwing them on the sidewalk of First Avenue. Audio here.

 They did not allow Inner City Press to get coat or sweater, or the files in its office. No provision was made for this.

  The ejection letter was signed by the Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Galach of Spain but ultimately Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in charge. Ban and his chief of staff Edmond Mulet and Deputy SG Jan Eliasson were all written to with details as this took place.

  USG Gallach's office, Darrin Farrant in charge, merely "took note" of questions about and criticism of the lack of due process. Gallach did not respond to email, even from Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, here.

  When Inner City Press was thrown out onto First Avenue, standing waiting, laughing and filming, was Voice of America's Margaret Besheer and another board member of the UN Correspondents Association, whose president Giampaoli Pioli told Inner City Press if it didn't remove a (truthful) article about his screening of a war crimes denial film for a tenant of his, Sri Lanka's then ambassador Palitha Kohona, he would get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.

  But who is running this asylum? Ban Ki-moon, his spokesman also involved Stephane Dujarric (who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29, also trying to turn off ICP's Periscoping phone), and, some surmise, some who don't like Inner City Press' questions. We'll have more on this.

  The pretext was Inner City Press three weeks earlier seeking to cover a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room by an organization which has taken money from now indicted Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo's South SOuth News, then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban.

(As Inner City Press reported, Gallach attended the South South Awards with Frank Lorenzo, photo here, just before his indictment.  She should have been recused from any decision-making on this.)

  UN Security demanded ICP's pass - and later tore it off.


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