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As UN Guterres Uses UN Security To Hinder Coverage Of His Murky Spending, Case of Gert Schmidt

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Scope PFTracker

UNITED NATIONS GATE, December 2 – How corrupt and vindictive is UN Security? Beyond the UN Security officials who, having been exposed by Inner City Press for bringing for profit events into the UN contrary to the stated ruled that are increasingly violated in the lawless administration of UNSG Antonio Guterres, now enforce Guterres' ban on Inner City Press, there other vindictive guards, echoing the film The Bad Lieutenant. Inner City Press before getting targeted and roughed up by UN Security Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins on whom it had previously reported irregularities in promotions also wrote about other irregularities in UN Security. Today we reconsider the case of UN Security official Gert Schmidt, who has sent no fewer than 600 tweets to Antonio Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric lobbying for and applauding the roughed up and banning of Inner City Press, see here. While some others have remarked on the absurdity of the account - and even wondered who is behind it - we have not written about it, as Gert has a total of three followers, akin to some of the pro-Paul Biya Cameroon accounts after Biya's lobbyists met with Guterres on 11 July 2018 and hired public relations firms. But among Gert's three followers is another UN Security official, at least in 2015: David John Schot. And Gert Schmidt, former or current UN Security official, has taken to claiming for example to the Committee to Protect Journalists' deputy Robert Mahoney that Dobbins and his unnamed partner's unilateral use of force on Inner City Press was justified: "You were not wronged. You failed to obey a lawful order by UN Security." No, Dobbins and his partner grabbed Inner City Press, twisting arm, tearing shirt and damaging laptop before even giving any order, which in any event wasn't lawyer since Inner City Press had and has a right to cover meeting such as that of the Budget Committee. And on the basis of Inner City Press being roughed up BY UN Security, UN Security's Gert Schmit said in the middle of the General Assembly week that Antonio "The Censor" Guterres made Press-less for the first time in a decade, "Banned for life means banned for life. Period" - contrary to the misleading claims of Spokesman Dujarric, that "no one here has called it lifetime ban" (then what is it?). Before that, Gert defended Guterres' imposition of "minders" in Inner City Press, here. Gert / Guterres said, "Stop whining ICP. You are where you should be, in the street gutter on 1st Ave." Tellingly, the Gert account defends Guterres' ill-fated Global Service Delivery Mechanism proposal, to try to pass through the Budget Committee chaired by Cameroon Guterres went silent on and helped cover up Cameroon's slaughter of Anglophones. The Gert account, defending lack of transparency, says "SG can meet with whomever he wishes" - including genocide indictee Omar al Bashir, without disclosure. Inner City Press asked Gert, what's up? He referred back to what he called unfair coverage, presumbly this: "The head of security for the UN in New York, Bruno Henn, traveling overseas for a conference in the Middle East, has named as his interim replacement his own administrative officer, Gert Schmidt, who sources tell Inner City Press is not qualified to lead the protection of UN Headquarters. This despite the two reports on the bombing of UN premises in Algiers in December criticizing the UN for putting unqualified people in charge of security.

   The sources link Henn's transfer of responsibility to a "bureaucrat" who until recently worked not in security or law enforcement but as a Cashier in the UN Pension Fund to Henn's strategy to surmount questions recently raised about his resume and his personal use of a UN security vehicle to drive to and from his New Jersey home. Not unlike a rogue stock broker who can only hand over his trading positions to a trusted underling in order to not be found out, they say, Henn has put Schmidt in command. But does this serve the cause of UN security?"

   Gert didn't specify which part he objected to. Did he not work for the Pension Fund? Was it this further coverage on Henn? "we offer this interim update on UN Security. The Department held a town hall meeting on October 22 in the Dag Hammarskjold Library auditorium.

  While the Press was excluded from the meeting, subsequent interviews revealed that D-2 level director Moh'D Ali Bani Faris did most of the talking -- "incomprehensible," more than one officer pegged him -- while his D-1 association Bruno Henn said almost nothing. An officer remarked that in the audience was one Jeffrey Armstrong, formerly of the US Pentagon and now reportedly held down by Henn and friends in the name of bureaucratic rules for promotion that Henn himself did not follow. There is also a brewing issue of Henn's personal use of a UN car, on which the Spokesperson's office told Inner City Press:

"Hi Matthew -- I heard you'd been asking about whether Bruno Henn had recently returned the keys of a UN vehicle that had belonged to the SG's security detail; I just wanted you to know that the car that Mr Henn has been using is one that he was authorised to use, and that he routinely returns the keys to that vehicle when it is not in use by him. In other words, there's nothing unusual about him returning the keys last week, as he does at other times so that the vehicle can be serviced or employed for other uses."

  But Inner City Press' sources say that an inquiry has begun into the value of Henn's personal use of the car, whether rules were complied with and whether a waiver previously granted by the UN Department of Management was obtained on false pretenses. To these questions, too, we shall return." And we shall - just without the UN's side of things. For the record, Inner City Press before it was ousted from the briefing room by Dujarric, Alison Smale and Guterres did ask about Schmidt: Inner City Press asked at the October 28 noon briefing if there was any denial of Gert Schmidt being put in charge of security, or any read-out on the Chief Executives Board meeting of October 25 including on Security, but none has yet been provided." That remains the case, and Dujarric despite Smale's "commitment" to answers made to UNSR David Kaye are barely answering any of Inner City Press' questions. But we will not stop reporting - it just won't include the UN's side (which it refuses to provide anyway). So despite Gert's schadenfreude, he and those in his position - should direct their complaints to Guterres and Dujarric - which Gert is, in his way, over 600 times. 

UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, the lead spokesperson for Secretary General Antonio Guterres who has put Inner City Press on his UNdisclosed banned from the UN list along with "political activists," here, blocks Inner City Press on Twitter. And on 24 October 2018 one of Dujarric's friendly interlocutors, UN Security Inspector Matthew Sullivan - who has called Dujarric a great man while also calling US Senator Elizabeth Warren "Jokeahontas," here, blocked Inner City Press from an event on Burundi and Cameroon, video here. Is the UN faux progressive, nasty nativist, or both / neither, only united in abusing its power? Sullivan used UN conference rooms for sneaker related for profit events, which Dujarric and his deputy defended. Sullivan, in turn, on 25 June 2018, three days after his underling Lt Ronald E Dobbins carried out Dujarric's and Al Jazeera's threat and had Inner City Press physically outsted, wrote "Stephane is a great man." We'll have more on this. Inner City Press asked Dujarric, "please explain how a UN spokesperson can legitimately block on Twitter a media which covers the UN, when he is posting UN information produced with public funds." While leaving questions about abuses in South Sudan and Egypt unanswer, Dujarric on his own blocking of Inner City Press replied, "As for Twitter, you are not blocked from the UN Spokesman’s account, the SG’s official account or the UN’s main account. You are most welcome to continue to follow those accounts and interact with them." Of course, that wasn't the question - it's about blocking critical media from information for which the public is paying, about UNGA speeches, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his officials, France, trips paid for by the public. We're informed by disgusted sources that Dujarric who played a role in having Inner City Press roughed up by UN Security this summer is now tweeting, regarding litigation among the 1970s band Fleetwood Mac, "Seriously? Could this world be anymore divided?" - this as he has the Press roughed up and defends it. And the lone Like of this effusion is from... a senior UN Security official. We'll have more on this. See photograph here as of October 1, three days after Dujarric bragged on camera that he is answering Inner City Press' electronic questions incoming on Cameroon and corruption after having it roughed up in and banned from the UN and his noon briefings now for 90 days. Cameroon's 36 year ruler Paul Biya blocked Inner City Press on Twitter, here. Now people who read our first October 1 story tell us that Dujarric, while blocking Inner City Press and refusing for weeks to answer its question about whether his boss Antonio Guterres, supposedly committed to fighting sexual harassment, had even responded to Prashanti Tiwari's letter -- Dujarric follows / monitors / trolls Prashanti. So too a number of Cameroon activists. This is how low the UN has sunk - it refuses to respond to its victims but tracks them. For what? We'll have more on this. How can the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres not only have physically blocked the media which covers Guterres most closely, but also censor it online contrary to Article 19 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights? This is a story of Dujarric, and thus of Guterres. 

  On 17 August 2018, after already having suspended Inner City Press' access to the UN for 45 days, Guterres' Under Secretary for Global Communications Alison Smale issued a letter banning Inner City Press for life. The letter accuses Inner City Press - without providing any opportunity to be heard or to rebut - of “conduct on United Nations premises toward other accredited UN correspondents and media outlets including videos / live broadcasts using profanities and derogatory assertions toward them without due regard to their dignity, privacy and integrity, in violations of the Guidelines.” Pg 3 (iv).

   This is a reference to Inner City Press, finding that Guterres' Spokesman Dujarric was giving a  private press briefing in the UN Press Briefing Room on June 19 on a topic it had asked about, Guterres' response to the US dropping out of the UN Human Rights Council. In the hallway, after having to get one of Smale's minders to even try to find out what was being said in the Press Briefing Room which is suppose to be open to all journalists, Inner City Press called the process a “sleazefest.”

  The reference was to Dujarric, using responses to other journalists' questions as an exclusive reward to favored pro-UN outlets. It is media critique and it is disgusting that Dujarric and Smale, for Guterres and it seems Al Jazeera, would move to ban Inner City Press for life for it.

  Notably, the US Press Freedom Tracker, belatedly reporting on Guterres' UN crusade against Inner City Press, recounted from 2016 that “There is no love lost between Lee and UNCA. Lee joined UNCA shortly after he began covering the UN in 2005, but left the association on bad terms in 2012 after reporting on a potential conflict of interest involving UNCA’s then-president. [Giampaolo Pioli renting one of his apartments to Palitha Kohona then later unilaterally granting him, as Sri Lanka's Ambassador, an UNCA screening of a war crimes denial film.] The UNCA meeting was held on January 29, 2016, in the UN media briefing room, which is open to all accredited journalists at the United Nations. Although UNCA wanted to use the briefing room to hold a members-only meeting, Lee insisted that he had the right to stay in the briefing room and even to livestream the meeting. UNCA complained to UN staff, who eventually cajoled Lee to leave.In the aftermath of that incident, the UN stripped Lee of his 'resident correspondent' status, making him a non-resident correspondent. Lee lost his office and his carte blanche access to the UN headquarters building.”

  The UN Press Briefing Room is supposed to be “open to all accredited journalists at the UN.” But at least two times, Dujarric has not followed this, and both times Inner City Press has contested it. Today's UN is a racket, or  sleazefest: if one stands up to Guterres' Dujarric and the media given an exclusive for Guterres' election, Al Jazeera, first you get evicted from your office, than banned for life. A sleazefest indeed.

   As Inner City Press' Periscope, here, clearly shows, it did utter the F word until it was in the sound proofed focus booth. Dujarric and the Al Jazeera trio only heard it later, on re-broadcast. To go looking to feel insulted or even harassed is pathetic. It is, in fact, censorship.

  After Dujarric misrepresented the incident to the Columbia Journalism Review, Inner City Press reached out to a range of Al Jazeera correspondents, many of whom follow Inner City Press on Twitter and use its information. Despite the slogan “Journalism Is Not A Crime” not a single one has yet responded, even as this trumped up incident has been converted by Smale into a basis to ban Inner City Press for life. Those contacted and not yet responding now despite the lifetime ban include, sadly, Haru Mutasa, Saad Abedine, the genial Gabriel Elizondo, Ragobeere, Kristen Saloomey who was working on the Michael Cohen plea deal on August 21, Simon Tate and Gladys Njoroge. Those responsible on June 19 were James Bays and Whitney Hurst, now for Inner City Press banned from 49 days, briefing, and prospectively the UNGA high level week. Journalism is not a crime? And in terms of “without due regard to their dignity, privacy and integrity” check out the UNCA “leaders” on August 20 at the first Dujarric briefing after Smale's lifetime ban on Inner City Press laughing at about it, in a briefing Inner City Press was prohibited from attending and asking questions at. We'll have more on this.Does the UN use its partners in state media including from the Gulf to justify its attacks and banning of the critical Press, or does the UN do it for them? This is the question about and to Al Jazeera. Two weeks after banning Inner City Press from entering the United Nations, which has closely and critically covered for a decade, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' "Global Communicator" Alison Smale for the first time deigned to explain in writing her basis for the ban, or suspension of privileges, citing Inner City Press' "incivility." This was ghoulish, applied to Inner City Press as its arm was twisted by Guterres' UN Security saying loudly, "I am a journalist!" But now Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric has gone further, in an article published July 30 by the Columbia Journalism Review. Dujarric - who Inner City Press directed to the CJR reporter to - is quoted that " Lee Periscoped while shouting, 'Fuck you!' repeatedly. (Lee says he was complaining that Dujarrac had given the Al Jazeera crew a private interview, and excluded him.) 'He creates an atmosphere of incivility within our working environment,' Dujarrac says.

That was a lie. Inner City Press on June 19 when Dujarric gave a "private briefing" to Al Jazeera's James Bays and producer Whitney Hurst about Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo announcing the US pull out from the UN Human Right Council said in the hall that is was a "sleazefest." After closing the door of the focus booth it has been confined to work in for two years by Dujarric, and long after the Al Jazeera trio including James Bayes and Whitney Hurst were done, said on Periscope, F-You. Periscope video - still online during this 27 day "investigation" - here.

So Dujarric is a censor, justifying the beating up and banning of a journalist for something he broadcast in a soundproof booth to his audience. This is disgusting, all the more so because as Inner City Press has reported, Dujarric told an interlocutor on June 20, before the two beat-downs of Inner City Press, that things would be worse for it. Guterres and Dujarric and it seems Smale are.. thugs. But what about Al Jazeera? Inner City Press is informed that its "Diplomatic Editor" James Bays has, in the 30 days Inner City Press has been fully banned from the UN, repeatedly trashed it, despite his profession of "Journalism Is Not A Crime." So Inner City Press wrote to one of his predecessors as AJE UN reporter, Kristen Saloomey, gently asking for advice on how to request equal time on Al Jazeera which previously had Inner City Press on for example on its scoop about the UN's (bogus) plans in Libya, here. But no answer. So Inner City Press moved on by public e-mail to Simon Tate, Haru Mutasa,  Cristina Martinez, Gladys Njoroge, and even ragobeere, alfarram, pricea and gallog, all at Tellingly, nothing. No response at all. Journalism is not a crime? It is impossible, more than ever, to get an answer from Dujarric: he is off on a vacation from July 27 through August 14. It is particularly noteworthy given that, not without controversy, the UN gave Al Jazeera and Bays the "exclusive" for the debates by which Guterres over his female rivals grabbed the Secretary General position, one of Inner City Press' stories here. And, just to begin to wider the circle, after Inner City Press audibly from its current UN Delegates Entrance stakeout raised the issue to the BBC's New York correspondent Nick Bryant, a day later he was praising the/his UK Mission on camera giving out a cake, saying that at the UN journalists are "generally" not treated like an enemy of the people. Really? We've asked more. And it's no more hypocritical, in fact less, than Reuters which loudly demands the freedom of those it has used in Myanmar, whom Inner City Press supports, while actively urging the UN to evict and ban Inner City Press - watch this site.

 Guterres' Communicator Alison Smale wrote: “On two recent occasions, Mr. Lee violated th[e] Media Guidelines by attempting to access United Nations premises beyond the scope of his non-resident correspondent status and by confrontations with United Nations Security and Safety officials. While you have characterized these confrontations as being unprovoked, the relevant facts do not support that characterization. Furthermore, according to the above-mentioned Media Guidelines:

'Where unexpected circumstances arise, the approach will be to avoid confrontation, maintain civility and find the fastest, safest and most secure acceptable solution. Those Correspondents who violate the ground rules governing access, including the abovementioned standards of ethical behavior may have their accreditation withdrawn or suspended by the United Nations.'

As a result of Mr. Lee's recent actions in violation of the Media Guidelines and his unacceptable comportment when dealing with United Nations Security and Safety officials, Mr. Lee's privileges of access to the premises of the United Nations as a non-resident correspondent have been suspended. These privileges of access will remain suspended pending a review of this matter to determine what further action, if any, should be be taken with respect to such privileges.”

With the ban on Inner City Press now hitting three weeks, and Smale having left on a three week vacation, there is much to be said about her reasons. First, in other of the two occasions, Inner City Press was within the Guidelines, which state that “Non-Resident Correspondents can access UNHQ through the Visitors’ Entrance at 46th Street and 1st Avenue between 0800-1900 hours from Monday through Friday. Non-resident Correspondents only have access to UNHQ on weekends or after hours accompanied by a resident correspondent or when a meeting is advised as taking place. Entry will be allowed two hours prior to the start of the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, the non-Resident correspondent must exit the premises within an hour, unless accompanied by a resident correspondent.”

On June 22 Inner City Press was pushed out of the UN by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins, irregularities in whose promotion Inner City Press has reported on in a previous years, based on a UN Security e-email leaked to it, through the General Assembly lobby in which it was covering an event, listened in Smale's Department's Media Alert, which featured a speech by Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Dobbins called in four Emergency Response Unit officers who refused to give their names when Inner City Press asked.

On July 3 - after Inner City Press has complained in writing to Guterres about its improper ouster on June 22 including Dobbins' animus and the ERU officers' refusals to give their names - Dobbins and other still unnamed officer assaulted Inner City Press as it was covering a UN Budget Committee meeting, announced or advised to it by the UN Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly. The meeting concerned Guterres' $6.7 billion budget and proposed moving of UN jobs from New York to Mexico City, Uganda to Kenya and Geneva to Budapest. Inner City Press' reporter's laptop was smashed into his backpack, damaging it. His shirt was torn and his arm was pulled, then twisted.

Most ghoulishly, Smale's July 19 explanation to the Government Accountability Project claims that if a person being thus assaulted by UN Security speaks up, saying loudly “I am a journalist!” they are being uncivil, justifying a suspension of entry for three weeks and counting.

The “review” that Smale cited included in these three weeks, as to Inner City Press, a single one hour interrogation on July 10 in a basement room across from the UN by UN Security officers Raughn Perry and Valentin Stancu. Perry asked questions, only about the July 3 ouster and refused to include in his write-up Inner City Press allegation of retaliatory animus by UN Lieutenant Dobbins or that Inner City Press had informed Guterres (and Smale) of it on June 25 before the July 3, making each of them partially responsible.

In the weeks since that “interview” by UN Security, nothing, and not only Smale but also Guterres went on vacation, with his Spokesman now three times refusing to answer Inner City Press' written questions as to where, and how much the public is paying.

We'll have more, much more, on this.


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