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In Syria Open Meeting ICP Is Told To Stop Periscope By France, Controls UNTV

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 26 -- When France and Spain co-sponsored a UN Security Council session about Syria in the “Arria Formula,” Inner City Press went to cover it and was told that the meeting was open, but only if it went in through the UN Visitors Lobby.

  And so it did, being the first journalist (and person) in the audience section of UN Conference Room 4. On two large screens in the front, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura spoke, taking a different stance than he had when he assumed the position after Lakhdar Brahimi resigned, like Kofi Annan before him.

  Then a Human Rights Watch video was shown, with voice-over. Three more journalists arrived; a guard came over to tell them they could sit anywhere, including outside of the audience section. Then another UN official approached Inner City Press.

   Are you filming? he asked. Yes, Inner City Press said, pointing to mobile phone broadcasting by Periscope. YouTube of the end of the Periscope, and subsequent questions, here.

   The UN official ordered Inner City Press to stop filming the “open” meeting, then demanded that Inner City Press erase or delete the footage. (It had, of course, already been live-streamed and broadcast).

   Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq why at an “open” meeting a UN official had ordered Inner City Press to stop filming or broadcasting. Haq said it was a decision of the member states which organized the meeting: that is, France and Spain.

   So when the Ambassadors of France and Spain, along with three NGO representatives, held a stakeout later on June 26, Inner City Press went to ask. But there the UNTV boom microphone operator was ordered by the spokesman for the French Mission to the UN who to give the mic to: Agence France Presse for a set-up question, then US Broadcasting Board of Governors' overseen media, in Arabic. That was it.

  Inner City Press approached France's Ambassador, who said at least you were in the room. But why not have it on UNTV, why order the Press which was broadcasting it to stop, and ask to delete the footage? We'll have more on this.

Footnote: in the “open” but unfilmable meeting, and at the stakeout, was Human Rights Watch, which going even more secretive will hold a smaller event on Yemen, not on UNTV or in the UN Press Briefing Room but in the clubhouse of the UN's Censorship Alliance. We'll have more on this as well.


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