Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

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


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

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 UN's Censorship Proposal, Ban Has No Comment, Studying Crackdowns in Sri Lanka

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 4 -- With the UN exposed by its own document to have proposed 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.

   When 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.

   But 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, she refused repeated interview requests. So much for free press at the UN.

Inner 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

Inner 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 about that?

Spokesperson 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.

On North Korea, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: on the trial that began today of American journalists there, has the Secretary-General have anything to say and now trial?

Spokesperson Montas: No, he is just watching developments there.

  By 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 from Minute 15:32:

Inner 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?

Spokesperson: 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…

Question: 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…

Spokesperson: Those are not minutes, okay?

Question: But then why would you…? Okay, I understand…

Spokesperson: This is a memo.

Question: …so this was a memo to Mr. Ban?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: Did Mr. Ban receive it and what does he think about a memo that says…?

Spokesperson: Well, Mr. Ban receives memos concerning everything that concerns every single department. He has absolutely no specific reaction on this.

Question: 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?

Spokesperson: No, I haven’t seen the document. You’re the first person who brings it to me, to my attention.

Correspondent: But I asked about it Tuesday.

Spokesperson: 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 confirmed with Google, that there has been absolutely no approach by the UN to try to get Inner City…

Correspondent: 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…

Spokesperson: 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 about.

Question: 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…

Spokesperson: We didn’t do that! We did not do that!

Question: [inaudible] was considered. It said we should consider it?

Spokesperson: 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 your blog.

Question: [inaudible] you sent letters. But why is the Wall Street Journal on the list when they never wrote about the Medical Service?

Spokesperson: 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.

Question: Are you comfortable with the document?

Spokesperson: Pardon me?

Question: This is a personal debate, it is not…

Spokesperson: 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.

Yeah, thank you for helping me avoid answering the question of level of comfort with public misstatements about censorship proposals by the UN.

Another journalist intervened:

Question: 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…

Spokesperson: 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.

Inner 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 [inaudible].

Spokesperson Montas: Yes, but it should… there are places to do that, Matthew.

Inner 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…

Spokesperson: I didn’t get that e-mail.

Inner City Press: And I also wrote to Ms. Kane, I wrote to Mr. Akasaka…

   And also the UN's head lawyer Patricia O'Brien, and now Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay. Watch this site.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -