UN's Censorship Proposal, Ban Has No Comment, Studying Crackdowns in
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 4 -- With the UN exposed by its own document to
legal action against the Press and censorship by complaining
to Google, as some repressive governments do, Spokeswoman Michele
Montas on Thursday reportedly refused repeated requests for an
interview on the topic.
asked at the UN's daily briefing by Inner City Press to explain her
public denial of the proposal to complain to Google News, contrary to
what is stated in UN
official Angela Kane's summary memorandum to
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Ms. Montas said the matter to too
"personal" to answer, and that it should be pursued outside
of the briefing room, and presumably off the record.
Montas used the UN's bully pulpit on June 2 to denounce Inner City
Press, and misspoke
on June 3 about meeting she attended to
strategize to censor Inner City Press. Then as reported,
repeated interview requests. So much for free press at the UN.
City Press began at the June 4 briefing asking about the UN's
commitment to free press in Sri Lanka (click here
for debate on NY
City Press: in Sri Lanka, the Media Minister has been quoted that the
Government is now preparing to bring charges against journalists it
considered to have either been supportive of the LTTE or not
sufficiently supportive of the Government’s charge. Human Rights
Watch has spoken out against this. Does the UN have anything to say
Michele Montas: Well, it was an intention stated. We are following
the situation. The same thing for the doctors, who are , as you
know, accused also of collaboration. We’re following the situation
closely. That’s all really I can say at this point.
North Korea, Inner City Press asked:
City Press: on the trial that began today of American journalists
there, has the Secretary-General have anything to say and now trial?
Montas: No, he is just watching developments there.
Montas' account, Ban Ki-moon spends a lot of time watching crackdowns
on the press, but does not read or comment on memos proposing
crackdowns on the Press by and inside the UN.
UN's Ban, Pascoe, Kim and Will Davis, First
Amendment not shown
Until cut off, the
questions and some answers went as follows, video here
City Press: Yesterday I saw an article on, I guess, Fox News that
you’re quoted as saying: “Montas also denied Inner City Press
report that the minutes indicate UN officials, quote, should consider
complaining to Google News.” So I am wondering like, are you
saying that the document that I have is not a UN document?
What I am saying is… First, I am saying they are not minutes,
okay. And I think this subject should be dealt with… You know, we
have gone over this over and over again…
But if you give a quote saying that it’s false, and I have the UN
document saying with regard to Inner City Press we should also…
Those are not minutes, okay?
But then why would you…? Okay, I understand…
This is a memo.
…so this was a memo to Mr. Ban?
Did Mr. Ban receive it and what does he think about a memo that
Well, Mr. Ban receives memos concerning everything that concerns
every single department. He has absolutely no specific reaction on
Well, why did you deny that it says Google… complained to Google
News in it? Had you not seen the document when you said that?
No, I haven’t seen the document. You’re the first person who
brings it to me, to my attention.
But I asked about it Tuesday.
Yes, because this was discussed as one of the alternatives. There
was no decision to send cease and desist letters, and there was no
decision to address Google News. And I said that the UN has not
spoken to Google News, something that your colleague at Foxnews.com
confirmed with Google, that there has been absolutely no approach by
the UN to try to get Inner City…
But you were in the meeting. You know that it was discussed. Does
this summary prepared by Angela Kane sufficiently summarize the
meeting which you attended? Which is why I e-mailed you, I didn’t
want to do it here, but…
Essentially, this meeting, and this would have been in minutes if
there were minutes, if there had been, it was about, as I said, a
complaint from the Medical Service. That was what the meeting was
But one thing I don’t understand is, if there is a story that the
UN doesn’t like, isn’t it the right… I mean if you write, I put
it on the website, but to have the UN’s response to a story that
they don’t like to try to take the publication from being
distributed worldwide through Google News…
We didn’t do that! We did not do that!
[inaudible] was considered. It said we should consider it?
No, we should consider addressing our… the first thing that was
considered is to address letters to editors of your, of the
publications. In your case, I don’t know if there is an editor to
[inaudible] you sent letters. But why is the Wall Street Journal on
the list when they never wrote about the Medical Service?
Well, the Wall Street Journal, I don’t even know why it’s there. Also
it was barely mentioned. I don’t remember discussing at all
the Wall Street Journal.
Are you comfortable with the document?
This is a personal debate, it is not…
Yes, it is a personal debate, you’re right, Pat, and it shouldn’t
be part of this [briefing]. Yes, quite true. Thank you, Pat.
thank you for helping me avoid answering the question of
comfort with public misstatements about censorship proposals by the
it’s remarkable that you’re taking the question of the
journalists as personal issues. It is not. We have always got
questions to ask. Maybe you have answers or you don’t, this is
fair. We don’t have problems…
But you know, Ali, may I say something to you? Mr. Lee just brought
it up in a meeting which is supposed to be a briefing about issues. And
Pat is quite right, it’s not the place to discuss this. You
can come to me, Mr. Lee and we can discuss it.
City Press: You gave a quote to Fox News, it went all over the world.
So I asked to explain your quote... I was asking about your quote, I
wasn’t trying to get anything personal, but I think that if there
is a quote that, to me, is not factual, I am going to ask you what
Montas: Yes, but it should… there are places to do that, Matthew.
City Press: That’s why I sent to you an e-mail with a… about the
minutes on Monday, just respond to me in that forum rather than here.
But for some reason it was never done…
I didn’t get that e-mail.
City Press: And I also wrote to Ms. Kane, I wrote to Mr. Akasaka…
also the UN's head lawyer Patricia O'Brien, and now Human
Commissioner Navi Pillay. Watch this site.