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On Eve of UN Eviction, Still No NYT, 1:30 AM E-mail from UN, Film Crew Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee, Series, Video I, II

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 – With full eviction from the UN looming, I'd been thinking that the New York Times would later save me - usually a useless thought. I called the reporter; no answer. I was on my own. I went down to a reception in the lobby, or the hallway between lobbies. I felt tears in my eyes. A women I vaguely recognized, from some NGO, came over and said, I hate to see you like this. You're going to have to decided, if you want to stay here, you've going to have to eat some crow.

But for what? I went back up upstairs, unsure if UN security would come in and get me, and sent out desperate emails. To Jeff Sachs - no answer. To Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye: no answer then. I found myself wondering, had they all been gotten-to?

The attempt to oust me was near-total, and coordinated. At the next day's noon briefing Lou Charbonneau of Reuters was sitting in my seat; I had to sit behind. A friend of mine, behind me, nevertheless used email to reach me. Stay cool, he advised. They are trying to get you to react.

  In the General Assembly, they were interviewing in UN formal style the then-nine candidates to succeed the evicter Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General. I got escorted to the stake-out position in front by a minder and sat at a glass table, standing up to ask questions to seven of the nine. (For the other two, the President of the General Assembly's spokesman refused to call on me, handing questions to Reuters retiree Evelyn, whom he called Edie, and anyone but me.)

The Friday before the eviction was scheduled, I somehow remained hopeful. Maybe they would let the deadline pass like on April 6, when I published the OIOS audit. But the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit MALU told me, at 2:30 in the afternoon, that it was on, to be here at 9 am.

  I want to bring a camera crew, I told him. There were two guys working on a documentary, about Haider Rivzi as it happened, a cautionary tale of how the UN can kill even, even if you're not in Haiti. They agreed I could bring two people.
  That night I didn't even try to get signed in to the Delegates' Lounge. It was too late for that. I was alone, and it was war.

  At 1:30 am, MALU emailed me that I could only bring one person. Who was giving them orders, at 1:30 in the morning?


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