Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

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

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Refuses To Say To Whom It Gives July 4 Exclusive Access When Inner City Press Asks But Censors Instead

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, New Petition, Q&A

UNITED NATIONS, July 3 – While the UN has told its staff, journalists and most diplomats they are prohibited from entering the UN campus on Manhattan's East River on the 4th of July to view the fireworks, Inner City Press witnessed and asked the UN about its entire fourth floor Delegates Dining Rooms being prepared for what workers told Inner City Press would be a "big party." But at the UN noon briefing on July 3 Farham Haq, the Spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who is returning to New York later on July 3, refused to answer Inner City Press' question on for whom the UN would be opened the following day. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: It's a Fourth of July question so it will become stale by the next briefing.   I know that DSS [Department of Safety and Security] has put out this message saying, obviously, the compound is closed.  I know for several years now, fireworks are not watched by anyone in the UN compound.  I've heard from a few people that that this year it may be one or more Missions are, in fact, being allowed to use it.  I don't know if it's true, so I'm asking you because it seems, given the notice that was sent out, has the UN Department of Management or Security given permission for any Mission or otherwise or group of UN supporters to use the UN compound to watch the fireworks?

Deputy Spokesman:  Just speaking in terms of directives for staff, the building is closed.  I'm not aware of exceptions to that.

Inner City Press:  If you find out before the close of the day, will you say it?  It seems like it's a pretty straightforward question.

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm not aware of discussions that different Member States have, but, like I said, for staff, it's closed, and we're not supposed to come in.

Inner City Press: Right.  But a Member State would have to get permission from the Department of Management.

Deputy Spokesman:  You can keep asking, and that’s the answer.  That's still the answer.  All right." Video here. Haq walked off the podium mid-question, telling Inner City Press "You love to just keep talking." No, it's a question, and one that should be answered, as should: will UNSG Antonio Guterres be there? The UN is public property. It is, at a minimum, owned by all 193 member states. How can some diplomats get in and not others? If it is a case of each country being able to control it on their national day, the UN should say it. But the UN has no rules, abides by no rules, is simply an UNresponsive sinkhole of the law of the jungle. This was emailed out on July 3 by UN Safety and Security Service: "On Wednesday, 4 July 2018, United Nations Headquarters will be closed in observance of the Independence Day holiday. Access to the building will only be facilitated for those staff members who are rostered for official duty.  Entry for staff members on duty will be at the 43rd Street entrance." We'll have more on this. Eleven days after UN Security officers led by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbin and four others who refused to give their names pushed Inner City Press' reporter out of the UN during a speech by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, on July 2 the Government Accountability Project has criticized the ouster and called for Inner City Press to be reinstated as a UN Resident Correspondent. GAP writes: "as security expelled Mr. Lee from the building, he encountered Catherine Pollard, the UN’s Under-Secretary General (USG) for General Assembly and Conference Management, who pointedly ignored his plight and simply stayed her course, despite his plea for her intervention. Along the way, Mr. Lee also asked the guards for their names, which they refused to provide. This most recent incident is the latest in a long history of harassment directed at a journalist who has been critical of UN management and operations over the years. Mr. Lee’s investigative reporting has broken stories concerning sexual abuses committed by peacekeepers in Africa, the role of UN peacekeepers in bringing cholera to Haiti, and war crimes in Sri Lanka, Burundi and Sudan [and Cameroon]. Mr. Lee’s reporting has also helped to expose corruption at the Headquarters of the United Nations, including the current bribery scandals surrounding former General Assembly President [Sam Kutesa and] John Ashe."

  In the eleven days since the ouster, live-streamed on Periscope and then put on YouTube, the UN of Antonio Guterres has not responded in any way. Inner City Press was first told to "Ask Security" then to "Ask DPI" or as it now absurdly wants to be known, the UN Department of Global Communications. But as GAP continues, "Like USG Pollard, the Under-Secretary for Global Communications, Alison Smale, seems deaf to Mr. Lee’s distress; she has refused for eight months to answer e-mails or respond to a petition to restore his credentials as a resident correspondent." Inner City Press since the ouster has raised it to Smale not only in writing (again) but also in person - with no response. Global Communications, indeed. GAP concludes: The Government Accountability Project therefore urges the Member States of the United Nations to combat the silencing of a journalist by taking action at the offices of the self-appointed guardian of free speech, itself: the United Nations. Matthew Lee should be: Reinstated as a resident correspondent with appropriate access to facilities and events, and Issued a public apology for the improper expulsion that occurred on June 22nd." To Inner City Press, it is the first of these, restoration to its long time work space S-303 which sits empty every day, assigned to an Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom whose Sanaa Youssef, while a former president of the UN Correspondents Association (1984) has not asked the UN  a question in a decade. As to apologies from today's UN, the disingenuous apology in Haiti for example shows how much those are worth. We'll have more on this. Guterres' lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric evaded Inner City Press' questions then ran off the podium. Video here. Despite the fact that Guterres' armed guards ousted Inner City Press and that the UN Department of Public Information under Alison Smale did nothing, Dujarric babbled that Inner City Press should "ask DPI" then ran off the podium. Video here. From the UN (controlled) transcript: Inner City Press: Farhan [Haq], on Monday, when I informed him that on Friday I had been, during an event in which the Secretary-General was giving a speech, made to leave by UN Security while other non-resident correspondents, a distinction you just cited, were still in attendance, he said to talk to security.  And that seems strange to me, because it seems to me that the Secretariat, like civilian…

Spokesman:  I think if there are any issues that you have…

Inner City Press: My issue…

Spokesman:  If you have any issues with your access, you should take them up with DPI [Department of Public Information] and the people who actually issue the accreditation.

Inner City Press:  They came… they came and they said there was nothing they could do…

Spokesman:  "Thank you very much.  Brenden." The UN transcript omitted the audible question, "So can Security just at will bar journalists?" Video here. The UN of Guterres, Dujarric and Smale is a place of corruption and censorship, and self-serving erasure even of the questions asked, with the public's money. The day before, after cutting off Inner City Press' question about protests of Guterres' inaction on sexual harassment cover-ups at UNAIDS, Dujarric called on a correspondent for a London-based Arabic daily. Then he called on that same correspondent again before returning to Inner City Press. Sensing this second round might be cut off, Inner City Press began asking about Guterres inaction on Cameroon then on his Security's ouster of the Press which asks. But Dujarric after evading the Cameroon question turned to Al Jazeera which asked what even it called a light question about the French label pin on Dujarric's sear-sucker jacket. Then Dujarric simply left the room, so that Inner City Press' question about Guterres' use of his Security to target the Press could not be asked. On June 22 Inner City Press was live-streaming Periscope and preparing to write about Secretary General Antonio Guterres' claims about his visit to Mali, where he didn't even inquire into a recent case child rape by a UN Peacekeeper. With the event still ongoing, Inner City Press was approached by Lieutenant Dobbins and told that since it was just past 7 pm it had to leave the building. Video here.

 That is not the rule, nor the practice. But Inner City Press under Guterres and his head of Global Communications Alison Smale has inexplicable been at the "non-resident correspondent" level lowered from that of no-show state media like Akbhar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef, assigned Inner City Press' long time office despite rarely coming in and not asking a question in ten years.

  While Guterres and Smale have created and encourage the atmosphere for targeting the Press, Dobbins had and has his own reasons. Inner City Press previously exclusively reported on fraudulent promotions in the UN Department of Safety and Security, beginning of series here with a leaked document with Dobbins own name on it, under the heading "Possible Promotions... if Dobbins does not want Canine / ERU." Document here. Since the publication, Dobbins and a number of UN Security officers have openly targeted Inner City Press. This has been raised in writing to Smale (for eight months), for almost 18 months to Guterres and his deputy Amina J. Mohammed, whose response has been to evade questions on Cameroon and now an ambiguous smile while surrounded by UN Security. On June 25 Inner City Press asked Guterres' Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq about it, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:
on Friday there was the Eid event in which António Guterres gave a speech, and I… I want… I guess I want to put this in a general way because I don't understand it.  During the event, as the event went on, I was required to leave by a Lieutenant Dobbins and the emergency response unit.  And it seemed strange, because there were many other non-resident correspondents at the event.  So, I wanted to know… to know, one, what are the rules?  Number two, is it acceptable for a… a… UN Security to… to single out and target a specific journalist?  And I did… and I ask this because I've previously written a story about promotions in DSS [Department of Safety and Security], including Mr. Dobbins, and whatever that is, what are the provisions in the UN to make sure that security cannot abuse its powers?  So those are… I… I… I'd like you to answer that, and also they didn't give their names.  The other individuals refused to give their names.  Is that UN policy?

Deputy Spokesman:  UN Security has their policies.  Your concerns with them need to be addressed to UN Security.  I'm not going to comment on your own problems with UN Security.  Brenden, come on up.

Inner City Press: I don't understand.  This happened at a speech by the Secretary-General.

Deputy Spokesman:  No, I'm sorry, your security issues are things you're going to have to deal with.

Inner City Press: It's not a security issue.  It was done in the name of the Secretary-General.  Is he speaking tomorrow at 6 p.m. somewhere?  Can you say where the Secretary-General is speaking tomorrow at 6 p.m.?

Deputy Spokesman:  I’m not going to argue with you on this." There was more - video here.

  Even if Lt Dobbins and his team and commanders wanted to interpret and twist the existing rules in a way they are not enforced against any other non-resident correspondent at the UN, the Guterres Eid al -Fitr event listed in the UN Department of Public Information was still ongoing, making it unquestionable that Inner City Press had a right to be in the UN and cover it.

   But even as Inner City Press dialed DPI's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, getting only voice mail, Dobbins made a call and UN “Emergency Response Unit” officers arrived, with barely concealed automatic weapons. One of them repeatedly pushed Inner City Press' reporter in the back, forcing him through the General Assembly lobby toward the exit. Video here.

   UN Under Secretary General Catherine Pollard was told the ouster and did nothing, as was a Moroccan diplomat. The heavily armed UN Security officers refused to give their names when asked. Lieutenant Dobbins, with no name plate on his uniform, refused to spell his name. He said, I have my orders. From who - Guterres? His Deputy SG or chief of staff, both of whom were at the event? DSS chief Drennan? DPI chief Alison Smale?

    Inner City Press repeatedly asked to be able to get its laptop computer, which was upstairs - there was no way to have known it would be ousted during Guterres' event.

  But Dobbins and the others refused, as did the UN Security officers at the gate. Inner City Press remained there, with dwindling cell phone battery, raising the issue online to Smale, under whose watch Inner City Press has remained in the non-resident correspondent status it was reduced to for pursuing the Ng Lp Seng UN bribery case into the UN press briefing room where Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric ordered it out, then had it evicted. A DPI representative, whom Inner City Press asked to call Smale, was unable or unwilling to even let Inner City Press go in escorted to get its laptop.

   Just in the past week, when Inner City Press complained of Dujarric providing only to Al Jazeera the response of Antonio Guterres to the US leaving the UN Human Rights Council, Dujarric and the Al Jazeera trio claimed to MALU that the coverage was “too aggressive.” Journalism is not a crime? Next week, Antonio Guterres is set to give remarks, to which Inner City Press has requested the right to cover response, to the UN Correspondents Association, which not only has not acted on this censorship, but has fueled it.

  Inside the UN the Eid event continued, alongside a liquor fueled barbeque thrown by UN Security. This DSS sold tickets to non resident correspondents, and allowed in people who had nothing to do with the UN, including some seeming underage. When Inner City Press audibly raised the issue to UN Safety and Security Service chief Mick Brown, he did nothing.

   The Moroccan diplomat emerged and chided Inner City Press for even telling him of the ouster, claiming that “25% of what you write is about Morocco.” Some Periscope video here. Pakistan's Permanent Representative, who hosted the Eid event, said she would look into it. Sweden's spokesperson asked whom to call in DPI and when Inner City Press said, Alison Smale, responded, Who is Alison Smale? Indeed.

  Smale has refused to respond in any way, in the eight months she has been Guterres' “Global Communications” chief, to a 5000 signature petition to restore Inner City Press to its unused office S-303 and to adopt content neutral media access rules going forward. That, and appropriate action on Lt. Dobbins and the others, must be among the next steps. Watch this site.


Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

 Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2018 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for