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UN Bid to Ban ICP Led by 5 Big Media, Serving France, Ladsous, Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 29 -- Four hours after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about charges that his Department introduced cholera into Haiti, and has Sri Lanka alleged war criminal general Shavendra Silva as an adviser, representatives of five media organizations presented charges to eject Inner City Press.

  Video of Ladsous' refusal to answer is here, Minute 28:10.

  The later-disclosed five signers of the charge letter to set up a "board of examination" to "investigate" Inner City Press with the goal of expelling ICP include not only Louis Charbonneau of Reuters and Timothy Witcher of Agence France Presse (as explained below, a major French Mission and Ladsous tool).

  Now they have expanded to five, with Flavia Krause-Jackson of Bloomberg, Talal Al-Haj of Al-Arabia and Margaret Besheer of Voice of America, the Treasurer of UNCA who was not present for Tuesday afternoon's move toward expulsion.

  Besheer has previously rebuked Inner City Press to write "more positively" about the UN. During Tuesday afternoon's session, Bloomberg's Flavia Krause-Jackson told Inner City Press, We're not talking about giving evidence... we do not like your attitude.

  The stated purpose of the UN Correspondents Association is to protect the freedom of the press and protect the rights of bona fide correspondents to secure accreditation and unhindered access to the UN without discrimination.

  But it appears that big media at the UN is seeking to expel a smaller, more critical online news site, Inner City Press. For others of Tuesday's indicters, it is state controlled media from countries reliably accused, including in ICP, of human rights violations.

  UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli at the beginning of Tuesday's inquisition complained in seeming North Korean style to Inner City Press about "your blog," citing "complaints over the years."

  It was Charbonneau who filed a complaint with the UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit saying Inner City Press is "making it very hard for me and others in the UN press to do our jobs."

  Charbonneau sent copies of his complaint to MALU against Inner City Press to Basheer of Voice of America, Witcher of AFP (who previously used UNCA against Inner City Press after ICP reported that Ladsous was at best Nicolas Sarkozy's second choice for the French position atop UN Peacekeeping) and Pioli.

  As previously reported, Charbonneau and Reuters used without any credit Inner City Press' exclusive March 28 report that US official Jeffrey Feltman would come to head the UN Department of Political Affairs.

  By contrast, Foreign Policy's "The Cable" credited Inner City Press. When asked about it, Charbonneau said for a year he has had a policy or practice of not crediting ICP. He repeated Tuesday, we don't have to give credit, it's just a courtesy.

  Repeated inquiries with Reuters if this is an acceptable policy have gone unanswered, by "ethics" chief Greg McCune up to Reuters CEO James C. Smith.

   Bloomberg, specifically Flavia Krause-Jackson, previously reported without any credit Inner City Press' exclusive expose that 14 kilograms of cocaine was found in the UN mailroom (her defense is that once the UN held a 6 pm press conference responding to Inner City Press' story and questions at noon, she and Bloomberg didn't have to give any credit). AFP also stole the story, as did some other chargers and supporters, Tuesday voters.

  Inner City Press said that UNCA should not be just a club of big media. Flavia Krause-Jackson of Bloomberg interjected, don't try to make this about big bad media against a small one. But how not? Look at the five signers listed above -- there's not even the pretense that is not what it is.

  Pioli has expressed anger at Inner City Press reporting that he accepted rent money from Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona and then arranged for Kohona to screen his government's genocide-rebuttal film "Lies Agreed To" in the UN without asking other UNCA Executive Board members about it, and without the underlying Channel 4 film "Killing Fields" being screened in the UN, because it would conflict with a ceremony for Ban Ki-moon.

  Pioli points out, and we include, that the rent acceptance was "seven or eight" years ago.

  Pioli still demanded that the article, even as modified, be removed from the Internet. Inner City Press refused, calling this censorship.

   Pioli screamed at Inner City Press, I will get you thrown out of the UN.

   At Tuesday's meeting Talal Al-Haj said of the Sri Lanka - Pioli story, I would like to see the facts behind your story, I need this to be investigated. Inner City Press asked if Al-Haj and the UNCA Executive Committee was asking to know the sources of the story. Of the board of examination, Al-Haj said we can choose any five.

  But can those complaining, or witnesses, be on the board of examination? Can the prosecutor or witness be on the jury? How can they then give evidence?

  Strangely, a correspondent for a media which has in the past credited Inner City Press on a Libya scoop Tuesday voted for the process to try to expel Inner City Press. Does it highlight the difference between the media's English and non-English versions or something deeper?

  Pioli cut off all objections to end Tuesday's session and called the question, "to set up a five member" Board of Examination.

  Inner City Press has nominations for the panel, and should have the right to challenge for cause. ICP has also provided notice of other requests it is making and actions it will take.

  Inner City Press believes this is an abuse of power, anti press freedom, and I will fight it. When you are trying to throw me out, it is not private. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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