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As UN Visa Scam Under Ban Exposed, Ashe's Bethel, Ban's Spox Won't Answer ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, there is continuity to this UN scandal.

  Inner City Press in October 2015 repeatedly raised that Ashe's chief of staff Paulette A. Bethel of the Bahamas was and is current PGA Mogens Lykketoft's “Special Adviser, Coordination and Engagement,” at the senior D2 level.

   Now as UN officials including Cristina Gallach, whose involvement in the scandal is detailed in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit at Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) have moved to evict Inner City Press  from the UN premises (video here) and restrict its access, Inner City Press on April 28 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: This is related to the John Ashe case.  When people work in the PGA's office and they work for the UN, but they work for the PGA's office, are they supposed to have a G4 visa or an “A” diplomat visa?  There's a reason I'm asking this.  Some people are seconded, and supposedly, they can have then an A visa, which gives much greater immunity.  Some people are paid by the UN, and I wanted to get an answer from you whether G4…

Spokesman Dujarric:  If they are UN staff, then I would assume they're under G4 visas…

Inner City Press:  What happens if… what if somebody is a UN staff that, for some reason, for some erroneous reason, happened to have an A visa?  Would this give them immunity?

Spokesman:  I don't know.  I don't know.

  Dujarric did not come back with an answer, but should have. Inner City Press is exclusively informed that the UN allowed “visa games” in the case of John Ashe's chief of staff Paulette Bethel, who is now in the Cabinet of current PGA Mogens Lykketoft and is being lobbied to continue, with immunity, with the *next* PGA (more on that in a separate forthcoming exclusive story).

   Bethel had been an Ambassador with an “A” diplomatic visa, full diplomatic immunity. But while working for Ashe, Ban's UN paid her. Still she arranged to have an “A” visa -- significant given the corruption in which her Office was allegedly involved in.

   Now, the sources tell Inner City Press, there is a review of how Ban Ki-moon's UN has allowed for abuse of the visa (and immunity) system. On this, too, we will have more.

Back on March 11, Inner City Press reported and asked this:

  By having her position with Lykketoft, Paulette Bethel continues to have immunity. Ban Ki-moon has not waived it, despite the portrait painted of her the John Ashe indictment. She “knows where the bodies are buried,” as the phrase has it.

  And perhaps for that reason, Inner City Press is multiply informed that Bethel is lobbying for a continued immunity job with the NEXT President of the General Assembly, whether from Cyprus or Fiji.

  In fact, Inner City Press is informed, both candidates to succeed Lykketoft as PGA, Cyprus and Fiji, was lobbied to keep Bethel on -- as a D2, with full immunity -- if they win the job, and were promised (the same) votes if they do.

Now, Inner City Press is informed of new (March 11) developments regarding Paulette Bethel's immunity status.

  For now, what does this mean? Well -- did Lykketoft make the same corrupt deal? Why WOULD Lykketoft, claiming to be so different from John Ashe, keep Ashe's chief of staff on his team? Even Banned from the UN second floor where Lykketoft's office -- used to campaign for Helle Thorning-Schmidt, as Inner City Press exclusively covered -- we'll have more on this. Here.

On March 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric -- who among other things has refused to answer on lending UN Press Briefing Room, in which indictee Frank Lorenzo appeared without being listed in the Media Alert -- about this.
 Video here UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I want to return to the indictment of John Ashe, I'd asked you before, but I have more to ask about it, that the previous Chief of Staff of John Ashe, Paulette Bethel, is currently the number three official in Mogens Lykketoft's office.  And as Chief of Staff, she's listed throughout the indictment and charge sheet in the John Ashe case. I've also become aware that there's requests being made to potential new PGAs (Presidents of the General Assembly), Cyprus and Fiji, to continue her in the employment as a D-2 UN official. If a person is a UN staff member but works for the PGA's office, one, what is the status of their immunity from prosecution and testifying?  And, two, who can waive that immunity?  Is it the Secretary-General, as with other UN staff, or is there some special status for a UN staff member who works for the PGA's office?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Look, speaking not in relation to the particular case that you mentioned, because her employment and the employment of anybody in the PGA's office is up to the PGA itself, the Secretary-General has the authority to lift the immunity of any UN staff member.

Inner City Press:  Does it seem strange to you that someone listed so prominently in the indictment remains on the UN payroll? Can you describe the immunity that that obtains?  If, for example, the US Attorney's Office wanted to speak to a Chief of Staff who went to Macau, who was involved in all of these actions…

Spokesman:  I'm not going to speak to… I can't speculate…

Inner City Press:  D-2, D-2 generally.

Spokesman:  I can't speculate to the case.  I don't… I'm not privy to anything that the US Attorney may or may not be doing.  What is clear is that anyone, as far as I know, under the rank of Assistant Secretary-General, which would include D-2s, such as myself, carries functional immunity.  As a matter of principle, immunity is not there to block any criminal investigation.  Maggie?

Voice of America:  Steph, anything on Mr. de Mistura's smaller conversations

Yes, smaller conversations... There is a history, here.

 After being thrown out of the UN on two hours notice by Under Secretary General for DPI Cristina Gallach on February 19, on March 10 back in on a "non resident correspondent" "Green P" pass, Inner City Press was ordered out of the UN at 8 pm, here, as it worked on this story -- here's an Inner City Press story on Bethel and Ban Ki-moon's connection to the scandal -- in the UN Lobby.

 UNder this kind of harassment, intimidation and attempted censorship, there is only one approach: publish, publish, publish. If Bethel didn't have the immunity that comes with a UN D-2 post, what might she testify to? Who could waive her immunity?

 Beyond the already problematic #NextPGA, how should the next UN Secretary General be selected, to improve the Organization?

  At a minimum, transparently. But that's not what's happening so far.  On February 26 Inner City Press asked Lykketoft if those who are running -- to date, six official candidates -- will be required or even asked to disclose who is financing their campaigns. Video here.

Lykketoft replied that he feels he has no mandate to require such disclosures. Inner City Press followed up: will Lykketoft, who was describing a process for “interaction” with the candidates beginning April 12, even ask them to make such disclosures, ideally in writing before April 12, or during their appearance?

   Lykketoft told Inner City Press, I encourage you to ask them. But while a UNTV stakeout will be set up outside the “interactive” meetings, nothing requires the candidates to take questions. And Inner City Press being present to ask such questions is being opposed and undermined by the UN Department of Public Information under Cristina Gallach -- who got her UN job in a murky way, as Inner City Press reported here -- and by Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric. We'll have more on that, as relates to Next SG.

The frontrunner, many say, is Bulgaria's Irina Bokova, current the head of UNESCO. In fact, in that capacity and on that dime Bokova was scheduled to appear in UN Headquarters on February 22, for an event called “UNESCO Green Citizens: Pathfinders for Change.”

  In the run-up, Inner City Press asked on Twitter what Bokova and UNESCO thought of UN Public Information chief Cristina “Maybe She Should Be SG” Gallach having Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, literally. There's been no answer.

   Inner City Press RSVP-ed for the UNESCO event, February 22 at 6 pm. Despite being told at 9:45 am that it is “Banned from all UN premises,” UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a staged colloquy at the noon briefing claimed that Inner City Press is NOT Banned - just has to "vacate its office." Why?

  Inner City Press, with the paper UNESCO pass, attended the February 22 event. Some discussion, attempting to resolve the situation, will not be reported here. But threats were repeated; Bokova it turns out canceled at the last minute, leaving some correspondents - not this one - disappointed. There was for a moment an open mic, and Inner City Press for one wished for some dark horse candidate to grab the moment, and the mic, and shake things up. It's needed: the UN is in decay.

  The new Free UN Coalition for Access -- whose sign USG Cristina "The Censor" Gallach directed to be torn down after she evicted Inner City Press from its long-time office -- seeks to open the UN and these processes - watch this site.


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