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Sept 24, 2013

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Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

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UN Aided Ng Lap Seng After His Positive Coverage of Ban Trip, Restricts Critical Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 20 – How far will the UN go to get positive media coverage, and to punish and hinder, if still not prevent, critical oversight? Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's 2015 to Honduras and El Salvador was given entirely positive coverage by South South News, the $300,000 a month bribery conduit of now convicted Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng. Click here for that coverage, still online.

Now in emails obtained and published by Inner City Press, it is shown that South South News president Francis Lorenzo, who has pleaded guilty, wrote to UN official Yiping Zhou about the coverage: “Dear yiping enclose [sic] see the first report of our coverage of the trip of the SG to El Salvador.”

Zhou wrote back, “Great job covering the SG's visit. We should do more for the SG, and other heads of UN organs especially also for our  UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. Please find my letter of support” - a letter supporting Ng's now-disgraced, never-built Macau conference Center.

So the UN supported Ng's corrupt plan, in response to positive coverage of Ban Ki-moon by Ng's South South News. Zhou was Ban Ki-moon's personal Envoy on South South Cooperation. And like Zhou's letter for Ng's project, Ban wrote a "personal 'Thank You' note" to South South News Afaf Konja "for her coverage of his official visit, calling her a 'champion for South-South Cooperation.'"

These names came up repeatedly during the Ng Lap Seng prosecution, begun by then-US Attorney Preet Bharara with the question, Is bribery business as usual at the UN? The answer was and is, Yes.

And when Inner City Press pursued the Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal, seeking to cover a meeting of the UN Correspondents Association who took full page ads from Ng' South South News and provided the venue for Ng's photo op with Ban (Cipriani 42nd Street), Inner City Press was evicted from the UN Press Briefing Room, then its long time office in the UN, where it still remains restricted under Ban's successor Antonio Guterres.

On August 16, Inner City Press asked Guterres about the Ng guilty verdicts; Guterres declined to answer. The UN still contains corruption, and still punishes and restricts the Press which covers it.

Beyond the corruption, it is a conflict of interest to have the same UN Department which views its role as promoting positive coverage of the UN be the one to decide, without rules or free press constraints, which media get full access, and which like Inner City Press are evicted and restricted.

The incoming head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, replacing Cristina Gallach who partied at Ng's South South Awards and did no due diligence on his events and sponsorships in the UN, will have to deal with this. We'll have more on this.


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