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From Egypt Sisi Comes To UN Guterres Sleazefest Amid Popular Protests Censoring Like Big Tony

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A

UN GATE, Sept 21 – After the "election" of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as Egypt's president with 97% of the vote amid fining of media like Al-Masry Al-Youm and the expulsion of journalists, the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 2 April 2018 said, "We were not involved in the holding of the election, whether in observing or offering technical assistance as far as I know.  So, I will leave it at that." This is the same UN - and spokesman - which evicted independent Inner City Press (and now banned it after assaulting it on July 3, Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II, and put in its work place Sissi's state media Akhbar al-Youm, in the form of Sanaa Youssef a former (1984) president of the UN Correspondents Association who hasn't asked a single question of the UN in more than ten years.

  Now on September 21 Sisi has come to New York even amid growing protests at home of his repression. "Big Tony" Guterres is sure to embrace him, as Guterred did Guinea strongman Alpha Conde on September 21. Guterres is corrupt.

In late June with Guterres at the G20 in Osaka meeting with Sisi his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, in his already then increasingly bogus noon briefings which sometimes for no apparent reason include Sanaa Youssef for more than a decade not asking a single question, refuses to answer Inner City Press' questions on Egypt and about Sisi's continuing detention of journalists. Then again, Guterres himself is a continuing censor of Press. On 17 August 2018 Guterres through Alison Smale banned Inner City Press for life; on August 27 his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said this was for "creating a hostile environment" for diplomats. Really?

  Now this: "The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.     The Secretary-General and President Al Sisi discussed regional matters, including the Middle East Peace Process and the situations in Libya, Syria and Yemen.     The Secretary-General commended the African Union’s leadership on implementing Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.     On climate change, he thanked Egypt for its efforts, together with the United Kingdom, to lead the coalition on adaptation and resilience ahead of the September Climate Summit.     Osaka, Japan  29 June 2019." Guterres is turning the UN into a coddler of dictators and censors such as himself.

Back on September 25 Guterres met Sisi and afterward gushed, "The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The Secretary-General and the President exchanged views on a number of issues of mutual interest, including developments in Africa and the Middle East region. The Secretary-General congratulated Egypt on a very effective chairmanship of the G77." Not a word on press freedom - not surprising, since Guterres as it turns out is a dictator on this too. In the 47th Street protest pens that day, supports of Morsi and Sisi shouted at each other, with Falun Dafa adherents meditating in between, along with a clown from Guatemala. Inside the UN Guterres has turned it into a circus - of censorship. On September 17 four UN rapporteurs for now publicly silent on the UN's own no due process censorship called on the Human Rights Council to respond to verdicts condemning 75 protesters to death and 47 to life sentences in Egypt. On 8 September, a Cairo Criminal Court confirmed the sentences delivered at a mass trial in July involving 739 people who were convicted on charges of illegal gathering, involvement in violence and incitement to break the law. The rights of the accused to present evidence in their defense were not guaranteed as required by the principle of fair trial.  The experts are
Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.. And here's what they said: “As a matter of priority, the international community must act to ensure international human rights standards are applied." We agree. And what about the UN Secretariat? On September 9 still new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to whom the above has been raised, issued this: "The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said today that she is extremely concerned that an Egyptian court’s confirmation of 75 death sentences on Saturday did not result from a fair trial, and the sentences, if carried out, would therefore amount to “a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice”. She also pointed to the stark contrast between Egypt’s mass trials and a recent law that effectively grants members of the security forces complete immunity for crimes they may have committed. The death sentences were originally imposed during a mass trial in July in which a total of 739 people were convicted on charges that stemmed from a Muslim Brotherhood-led protest, in August 2013, which was met with a lethal military crackdown. “The conduct of the trial in the Cairo Criminal Court has been widely criticized,” Bachelet said. “And rightly so. The 739 people were tried en masse, and were not permitted individual legal representation before the court. In addition, the accused were not given the right to present evidence in their defence, and the Prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove individual guilt. The evident disregard of basic rights of the accused places the guilt of all those convicted in serious doubt. In particular, the 75 death sentences affirmed yesterday, if implemented, would represent a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice. “I hope that the Egyptian Court of Appeal will review this verdict and ensure that international standards of justice are respected by setting it aside,” she added.... In July this year, the Egyptian Parliament approved a law that will effectively bestow immunity from prosecution on security force personnel for any offenses committed in the course of duty between 3 July 2013 – the date the military overthrew the Government of  President Morsi – and 10 January 2016. The law permits the President to designate a number of officers as lifelong reserves, and grants them the immunities and privileges of a sitting Government minister, including diplomatic immunity when traveling abroad. “Justice must apply to all – no one should be immune." Yes. But doesn't that apply to Guterres who nominated her as well? We'll see. In in a small subset of that news, the five year jail sentence passed on Mahmoud Abdel Shakour Abou Zeid, the photojournalist also known as Shawkan, means he should soon be free because he has already spent five years in preventive detention. He was finally convicted at the end of a mass trial with more than 700 fellow defendants. All this for trying cover a massacre by the security forces in Cairo’s Rabaa Square on August 14, 2013 - as noted by a stated borderless freedom of the press group which has said nothing about the UN they love having roughed up and still banning Inner City Press, despite it being repeatedly raised in reply to Julie Bance. One can love the UN so much it becomes a double standard - we'll have more on this. In Egypt the “cybercrime law” that Sisi signed on August 18 legalizes and reinforces the existing censorship and blocking of websites and criminalizes both those who operate sites and those who use them, a group who has yet to act on UN censorship said. Under article 7 of this law, Egypt’s authorities can now legally block access to any website that is deemed to constitute “a threat to national security” or to the “national economy.” It legalizes a well-established practice. Hundreds of sites have already been blocked in the past few years, apparently on nothing more than the orders of security officials, and the authorities have arrested several online journalists and bloggers, including a news website editor and satirical bloggers. Even visiting a banned website is now punishable by a year in prison while those who create or manage a website that is subsequently banned could be sentenced to two years in prison. We'll have more on this - and this: Cairo national security prosecutor ordered Mohammed Ibrahim Ezz, a reporter for the daily newspaper Al-Nahar, to be detained for 15 days on charges of belonging to a banned group. Ezz was arrested in the city of Tanta, north of Cairo, on July 10; the prosecutor will look into renewing Ezz detention again on August 5. The latest arrest comes as photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, a/k/a Shawkan, is slated to appear in court to hear a possible verdict on July 28. Shawkan has been jailed since August 2013 and faces the death penalty. On July 18, Inner City Press banned from entering the UN unlike the no-question Sissi (retired) scribe Sanaa Youssef in writing asked Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, "Given your belated answer yesterday on Saudi King Salman's immunity announcement, and your now stated policy, please provide comment today on this: “Senior military officers who oversaw the killing of hundreds of protesters in Egypt after the 2013 coup that brought President Sisi to power are to be given immunity from prosecution.'" To which Haq replied, "on Egypt, we reiterate our basic point:The United Nations does not endorse amnesties for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or gross violations of human rights." Is that why Guterres shook so heartily with Sissi, and gave Inner City Press' work space to Sissi's retiree? We'll have more on this.  On July 17 Inner City Press asked Haq and Dujarric, still UNanswered on July 18: “Egypt's parliament has approved a tough new law to regulate social media, raising fears that it could curb dissent against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's regime. The law states that social media users who have more than 5,000 followers could be placed under the supervision of Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulations. The council would be authorized to suspend or block any personal account which "publishes or broadcasts fake news” - what is the comment of the SG / UN?" The noon briefing Inner City Press was banned from had few questions, none like this; seven hours later Haq had not provided any written answer or even confirmation of receipt. The UN under Guterres is failing. On July 7 the government behind Guterres' and Smale's favorite Akhbar al Yom sentenced a Lebanese woman to eight years in prison over "insulting Egyptians" by complaining of sexual harassment in a video she posted online, and set July 29 as the date for her appeal. Mona el-Mazbouh was charged with "deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions." She posted a 10-minute video in which she used profanities to describe her vacation in Cairo where she says she was sexually harassed. The UN under Guterres, as Inner City Press first reported, rejected even a #MeToo club at its offices in Vienna. The Sissi government also pushed back the sentencing of photo journalist Shawkan or Mahmoud Abu Zeid and more than 700 others to July 28, while moving on a law to subject all social media accounts with more than 5000 followers to monitoring and immediate blocking for undefined "fake news." It is lawless - like Guterres' UN, which on June 22 deployed UN Security guards who refused to give them names while equipped with automatic weapons to oust Inner City Press from the UN during an Eid al Fitr event at which Guterres bragged about fasting in Mali. Video here, story here, new petition here. Earlier the Sisi government grabbed up Hazem Abdel-Azim, a critic since the government since he left Sissi’s campaign in the 2014 elections. Hazem Abdel-Azim was taken from his home in a Cairo suburb late Saturday on charges of disseminating fake news (!) and belonging to an outlawed group. This follows the detention of noted blogger Wael Abbas. Abbas was seized on accusations including disseminating false news and joining an outlawed group. He was taken blindfolded from his home to an unknown location and not allowed to contact his lawyer. His YouTube channel was shut in 2007, resulting in the removal of hundreds of videos depicting abuses by security forces. In December, he posted on Facebook that Twitter had suspended his account without providing any justification.
Last week they arrested labor rights lawyer
Haytham Mohamedeen for "belonging to an outlawed group." (In the UN, the Department of Public Information before evicting Inner City Press told it it would be ousted if it did not remove the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access from the door of its past (and future?) office S-303, even as the neighboring door carried and carries Turkish government paraphernalia. That threat, from DPI's holdover Hua Jiang, cc-ed to holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, is here). In 2016, Mohamedeen was arrested and later released over calling for protests against Egypt's transfer of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (When Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman on May 23 about Saudi detaining women's right activist, he spoke vaguely about space for civil society.) Apparently Sisi's Egypt is as much for sale as the UN, to Ng Lap Seng and more recently Patrick Ho and their mutual controller. An independent jury for a UNESCO prize awarded it to jailed Egyptian photo journalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid a/k/a Shawkan, about whom Inner City Press asked Amnesty International at the UN this month. The Egyptian government, needless to say, has criticized the award. This is the Sisi government to which Guterres sends his warm regards, and to whose state media Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef Guterres and his Global Communicator Alison Smale have purported to assign Inner City Press' long time work space in the UN. UNCA, the only claim to UN fame of Sanaa Youssef, has said nothing, bungling forward this April 23 with a 5 pm wine event for a novel seemingly entirely unrelated to the UN by
Elizabeth Strout, "at the event marking 'UN English Language Day', Ms. Strout will be joined by fiction writer Katherine Vaz and poet, Major Jackson... with a with a [sic] wine and cheese reception beginning at 5:00 pm." Then on April 24, ghoulishly an event in their clubhouse for a movement the UN's exclusion of which from the public UNSC stakeout UNCA, heavy with Moroccan state media, said nothing. We'll have more on this. On April 4, again with Akhbar al Youm's Saana Youssef nowhere in sight much less asking a question after a decade, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: when you were asked about the 97 per cent election of President Sisi, you said, 'We were not involved in the holding of the election, whether in observing or technical assistance.  So, I'll leave it at that.' I wanted to ask you, since then, one, a newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm, has been fined for its independent coverage of the election.  And now a website, Masr al-Arabia, has been raided by the Government.  So, beyond your… what you said on Monday, do you believe that… that… that… that the way in which the press was disallowed from covering this cake-walk election complies with the principles of António Guterres and his open-press ways?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary-General, in the run-up to the election, had expressed his concern at the limited political space in the country, and that is a concern we continue to have." Really. On April 5 it emerged that Egyptian prosecutors ordered the editor-in-chief of
Masr al-Arabia, Adel Sabry, be detained for 15 days pending investigations. A prosecutor in Cairo’s Dokki district accused Sabry of belonging to a terrorist group, publishing false news, using text and visuals that contradict the constitution, and inciting demonstrations, according to Eman Hamed, the defendant’s lawyer. This is what today's UN is siding with, in the form of former UNCA President Sanaa Youssef of Egyptian state media. Back on February 28 when Guterres met Egypt's new Ambassador Mohamed Fathi Ahmed Edrees on February 28, Inner City Press went through the UN's tourist entrance and then UN Security on the 37th floor to cover it. Still, before Guterres expressed his warm regards for Sisi, who is arresting all opponents, the UN Security officer who has already checked Inner City Press' microphone told it it could not record audio, see below. Now on March 8, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Sisi's government seeking the death penalty against photo journalist Shawkan, as relates to Guterres warm regards. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press:  it was pretty… pretty recently that the Secretary-General sent his very, very warm regards to President [Abdelfattah al] Sisi of Egypt, and so, in that re… in that connection, I wanted to ask you, the noted photographer, Mahmoud Abou Zeid, also known as Shawkan, has now been informed that he faces the death penalty.  He's been in jail for four and a half years.  It's kind of a cause célèbre.  And I wondered if the Secretary-General, who has these warm feelings, is this something he might have a comment on, a photojournalist being… facing the death by hanging? Spokesman:  I will check on that particular case.  The Secretary-General stands firmly against the death penalty.  And as for questions of the ongoing climate in Egypt, I think I answered that to Masood two days ago, and my answer stands." Masood-ji, Dujarric's straight man for justification of eviction of the Press, video here. This is censorship, and it remains ongoing - they have not answered a petition with thousands of signatures. Meanwhile Guterres and his Global Communicator Alison Smale have purported to assign Inner City Press' long time UN work space to Sisi's no show state media, Sanaa Youssef of Akhbar al Yom. We'll have more on this. Six days before when Guterres met Ecuador's Vice President María Alejandra Vicuña on February 22 it was supposed to be at 11:50 am. But another Inner City Press arrived half an hour before, by the time it was allowed in at 11:44 am the meeting was already underway. There was no handshake, and  the Press was quickly ushered out. With Guterres was a single UN staffer: Katrin Hett. On the elevator down from the 38th floor, UN Department of Political Affairs deputy Miroslav Jenca was just arriving, and UN Photo missed the shot again. This is a pattern. The evening before on February 21 when Guterres met Cote d'Ivoire foreign minister Marcel Amon-Tanoh on February 21, Guterres changed the time twice. First from 5 pm to 6:40 pm - for this, notice was provided - and then without notice moving it up to 6:34 pm such that both the Ivorian photographer and even UN Photo missed it. It seems Guterres is only interested in accommodating those who can help him - he has been happy, for example, to have the investigative Press restricted for his entire tenure, with no explanation of what the rules are. No show state media in, investigative press, through the tourist entrance, minders required. This is "Big Tony's" United Nations, do as I say, not as I do. Big shots are getting over with sexual harassment, while directives go to underlings. The Global Communicator Alison Smale, censor in chief, is involved. At the February 21, restricted Inner City Press was the only media which asked any questions, on Justin Forsyth multiple abuser, now at UNICEF, about mis-statements about immunity in India, another no-answer on Tanzania. The only media asking, and the only media restricted by Guterres and Smale. We'll have more on this. Amon-Tanoh, by the way, spoke well in the Security Council, before having the time(s) changed. Present on the UN side were Katrin Hett and Khassim Diagne, who's said Paul Biya is doing a good job in Cameroon - when Biya's been in Geneva for four and a half years, cumulatively. We'll have more on this. Back on February 2 when Guterres before his multiple junkets met Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, he had with him his outgoing head of Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman. (Inner City Press exclusively reported on January 25, in connection with Feltman's US replacement in the post, Dina Powell, here. Now some say Powell turned the post down, as so many have, under Big Tony.) The Qatari minister joked that his Ambassador told him Feltman was back from an interesting place - presumably a reference to North Korea, where Feltman wants to score Guterres a high level meeting, perhaps with Kim Jong Un, in connection with having accepted as a UN Junior Professional Officer in his Department the son of a DPRK Workers Party official. Even before Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani had finished signing the UN visitors' book, Guterres was indicating that the Press should leave, saying Shukran, presumably to the two traveling Qatar photographer and videographer. Earlier in the day Guterres refused Inner City Press' question if he told the International Criminal Court in advance of his meeting last weekend with Darfur genocide indictee Omar al Bashir. Qatar has played a role in Darfur but the topics with Guterres and Feltman would predictably involve the Gulf and the blockade. While Guterres issues fewer and fewer read-outs, will Qatar? On February 1 when Guterres met Guatemala's Foreign Minister Sandra Erica Jovel Polanco, there was a pre-meeting in Guterres' office including, Inner City Press witnessed, head UN lawyer Miguel de Serpa Soares. While Guterres gives fewer and fewer read-out, and even left his meeting with Darfur genocide ICC indictee Omar al Bashir last weekend undisclosed until Inner City Press asked about it, one assumes on the agenda was the stand-off with President Jimmy Morales about the CICIG, see August story here. But while awaiting the Guatemala read-out there is another question: when did Guterres tell Miguel de Serpa Soares' OLA about meeting with indictee Bashir, and when did Miguel de Serpa Soares tell the Office of the ICC prosecutor? Inner City Press has asked the UN, without substantive answer - just as specific detailed questions to Guterres, his chief of staff, deputy and "Global Communicator" Alison Smale have gone entirely unanswered. (Inner City Press checked with Smale's DPI just before the Guatemala photo op). We'll have more on this. The day before on January 31 when Guterres met his native Portugal's Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security José António Vieira da Silva, he quickly ushered him into his office, where he had been laughing with his staffers including Miguel Graca. José António Vieira da Silva is linked to a Portuguese inquiry into irregularities in the payment and reimbursement for travel; Guterres himself often travels to Lisbon, not disclosed by his spokesmen unless Inner City Press asks, and costs for example of accompanying security undisclosed. But while Correio da Manhã reports on the inquiry by the National Anti-Corruption Unit into if Rareissimas money was used for the travel of Sónia Fertuzinhos to Sweden, that publication is not targeted by the Portuguese government, much less required to have minders. In Guterres' UN, while Inner City Press investigates the scandals of bribery by Patrick Ho and CEFC China Energy, rosewood signatures by Guterres' Deputy Amina J. Mohammed and diversion of Kiswahili funds by Guterre's "Global Communicator" alleged by staff she is firing, Inner City Press is confined ot minders and cannot use its long time UN work space, purportedly assigned to an Egyptian state media which has yet to ask a single question and rarely comes in. It is not known if Guterres wanted to be a censor when he was Prime Minister of Portugul. But atop the UN, he seemingly happily presides over censorship and the targeting and restriction of investigative Press. A petition, here, was sent last week to Guterres, Mohammed and Smale, none of whom have as requested confirmed receipt, much less responded. Alamy photos here; UN Photo was not present. We note that Guterres over the weekend met Darfur genocide indictee Omar al Bashir and did not disclose it until Inner City Press asked, has still refused to say if the ICC Prosecutor was told in advance, as required. Guterres accepted a golden statue from Cameroon's 35 year president in October, and has yet to comment on Biya's role in the "refoulement" of 47 people from Nigeria. We'll have more on this. On January 30 when Guterres formally accepted the credentials of China's new Permanent Representative Ma Zhaoxu, he had his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed with him, and his spokesman on the way. In the run-up, Mohammed told UN Political Affairs official Miroslav Jenca she'd seen news of his trip to Lebanon and gravely cited economics. She praised Ma Zhhaoxu, saying she'd met him in Geneva on health. Then Guterres joked in the hall about charging $1000 dollars, before consenting to the credentials ceremony, Periscope video here. Alamy photos here. The Press was ushered out - earlier, Mohammed had refused an Inner City Press question about Cameroon - and at the elevator, there was UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who explicitly refused to get an answer from Guterres about legal compliance. We'll have more on this. Back on January 22 when Guterres met Mali's Foreign Minister Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly on January 22, it was supposed to happen t 7 pm. But Guterres was still talking in the ECOSOC chamber, a meeting in advance of which Inner City Press had tried to ask him and his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed a question at 3 pm. Vine video here. They didn't answer, and when Guterres arrived past 7 pm on the 38th floor, at first he forgot to do the standard handshake (grip and grin) with Coulibaly, who has replaced Abdoulaye Diop this year. Alamy photo here; Periscope video here. Then he told Coulibaly that his meeting in ECOSOC was supposed to last two hours but lasted four, leaving his program knocked-over (bouleverse). Coulibaly did a longer than usual these days entry in the UN visitors book, then Inner City Press, the only independent media there, was shepherded out. Down on the second floor, Amina J. Mohammed and her entourage were heading up. But still no answer. Inner City Press has lodged a formal request with the Department of Public Information - or "Global Communications" as Alison Smale called it in the UN Lobby at 6:20 pm - for an end to DPI/GC's censorship and restrictions on the Press. We'll have more on this. Back on January 19 when Guterres met Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman H. Safadi, the meeting began eight minutes before it was scheduled. Inner City Press has arrived early and was screened by UN Security, which asked, Is that camera on? While not filming, it was on - which alone allowed Inner City Press to photograph the perfunctory grip and grin handshake, photo here. Afterward, since Guterres had done the handshake without even his own UN Photo staffer there, Inner City Press was asked where the Jordan mission can find the photos. Well, here. It was confirmed that on January 18, as Inner City Press first reported, Guterres held a dinner and meeting, even negotiation, with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov without putting it on his UN public schedule, even belatedly. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric why and he called it a "private dinner." Well, with public funds, in the same UN dining room where Guterres complained to Gillian Tett of the Financial Times about the the fish and wine he was served. This is today's UN. On January 18 when Guterres met new Security Council member Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah, photo here, he had with him his chief of staff and long time Middle East hand, for the US and UN, Jeffrey Feltman. Unlike at the just prior photo op with South Korea, for which Inner City Press was the only media not a part of the UN Department of Public Information, for Kuwait there were five cameramen, one of whom recounted just flying to New York from Kuwait via Paris, and returning tomorrow via London. Talk about climate change. In Guterres' side dining room plates for dinner were set up, with name tags including the Russian Ambassador Nebenzia - the dinner presumably with and for Foreign Minister Lavrov. But it was not even listed on Guterres' schedule. We'll have more on this. Earlier, when Guterres met South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam on January 18, photo here, Periscope video here, accompanying him was Feltman, who visited Pyongyang last year and, as Inner City Press exclusively reported yesterday, is said by UN staff to be trying to set up a similar trip for Guterres. Also in on the meet was the UN's head of disarmament, Japan's Izumi Nakamitsu. Nuclear weapons, you might say, were on the table. But the photo op was fast and the Press was shepherded out. Half an hour earlier when Guterres met Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldayev of the Kyrgyz Republic a/k/a Kyrgyzstan, photo here, he was accompanied by one of his rivals to have become SG, Natalia Gherman. Guterres put her in charge of the UN's office for Central Asia and she's in town, along with the region's ministers, for Kazakhstan's back to back Security Council meetings. (The January 19 meeting about Afghanistan, it now seems, will be without the Afghan foreign minister). Just outside Guterres' conference room in a large white paper bag was a gift from Kazakhstan, in a blue velvet box. Will it disappear without explanation like the golden statue Guterres took in October from Cameroon's Paul Biya?  Back on January 15 when Guterres - without Natalia Gherman - met Uzbek foreign minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, he was instead accompanied by the UN Department of Political Affairs' Miroslav Jenca, who used to head the UN's office in Central Asia. The affable Jenca, when boarding the elevator on the 35th floor where the "hot desking" (or waste) at DPA was visible (along with DPA's sometimes Kenya official Roselyn Akombe), joked You have more freedom than I do and that he hoped his phone would behave at this photo op. Inner City Press quickly said that no harm had been meant in its previous reporting of a news flash from Jenca's phone during a photo op (though that report might be behind Alison Smale's Department of Public Information issuing a Kafka-esque threat to Inner City Press' accreditation, here, and keeping it out of its office, with minders). Press (UN) freedom, as we'll cover in connection with another visit later this week from the region. After the very short photo op, on the way out Guterres' Fabrizio Hochschild walked with Tony Banbury, who did a review of the UN in Iraq, completed in mid-November. And now? We'll have more on all this, including the seeming lack of "hot desking" or imposition of flexible workspace on Guterres' 38th floor. Is it another case of Do as I say, not as I do? Earlier on January 15 when Guterres met Sigrid Kaag, he joked before the Press was ushered out that he could not get used to her new role, as Dutch minister, still seeing her with the UN (from Lebanon to Syria chemical weapons.) In those UN roles, Kaag blocked Inner City Press on Twitter. Notably she stopped the blocking as soon as she left the UN, showing that the UN either encourages or has fewer disincentives to censorship than the private sector. The Netherlands is now on the Security Council, but its Permanent Representative was not seen at Kaag's meeting with Guterres. (He fairness, he is just back from the Security Council's weekend trip to Afghanistan.) A minute before his meeting with Kaag, Guterres came in from his private dining room. He had a listed 2 pm meeting with Rodrigo Maia, President, Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, and after Kaag a 4 pm meeting with Spyridon Flogaitis, Director, European Public Law Organization, both of them Closed-Press. The latter was set to be followed by Uzbekistan's foreign minister Abdulaziz Kamilov at 4:30 and then Lebanon's post Judge Nawaf Salam ambassador Amal Mudallali at 6 pm. Back on January 12 when Guterres met with Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, it came the morning after US President Donald Trump's reported comments contrasting Norway to "sh*thole" countries. So Inner City Press came to cover their meeting or at least the photo op. On the way, UN Security officers repeatedly told Inner City Press there would be a problem with its practice of live-streaming Periscope video, or more specifically, audio. On the 37th floor, Inner City Press pointed out that UNTV runs audio. But they're official, was the reply, I'm only telling you what I've been told to say. (Higher-ups from the Department of Public Information of Alison Smale have issued Kafka-esque threats, here.) Still Inner City Press was not stopped from taking its microphone up to the 38th floor. The photo op began almost immediately, Periscope here, and Guterres after shepherding Soreide from grin and grin to sign-in book, sat at his conference table and said, "Thank you very much." It was over. It was said that Soreide would made remarks, perhaps about Trump's comments but it did not happen, at least in Guterres' conference room. Coming up as Inner City Press was hurried out were Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, and Guterres' adviser, previously the French mission's legal adviser, Tanguy Stehelin. As of the time of the photo op, the UN's only response had been by lame-duck Human Rights Commission Prince Zeid, who has relatedly been quiet on the UN's abuses in Haiti, and Nigeria's abduction of leaders of Southern Cameroons / Ambazonia. But that's another story. Back on December 18 when Guterres met Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico, he joked that Fico must have stopped in to see the President of the General Assembly, fellow Slovak Miroslav Lajcak. Less funny, but as yet unacted on by Guterres, is the November 20 indictment of Senegal's former foreign minister Cheikh Gadio, along with Patrick Ho of China Energy Fund Committee, in a case alleging bribery of Lajcak's predecessor as UN PGA Sam Kutesa, as well as Chad's Idriss Deby. Guterres has not even initiated an audit in response to this UN bribery indictment. As to Fico, given his recent statements on Libya, one can only imagine what a read out of his meeting with Guterres would say. Guterres has stopped issuing read-outs, another cut back in transparency. On the way up to the photo op, Inner City Press witness several gift distributors, from bottles of liquor to envelopes, as well as recently built partition walls on the 30th floor being torn down, in a classic example of UN waste. (See Inner City Press exclusive story, here.) The UN under Guterres has become even more corrupt, and less transparent. Not only is the investigative Press restricted, more so than no show state media like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom (given Inner City Press' long time office but not even present for the day's vote on Egypt's Jerusalem resolution) - on the 37th floor, UN Security made a point of re-checking Inner City Press' badge, then of closing the door to the conference room on 38 so that whoever was coming out of Guterres' office could not be seen. Who was it? Watch this site. Back on November 9 when Guterres met Turkey's PMBinali Yildirim, the Turkish delegation brought their own security officers to the photo op. Periscope video here. Guterres had finished a long afternoon, calling Kenya's Ambassador "sincerely unfair" down in Conference Room 2, and taking photos with UN Police down in the basement. In between he'd come up to meet Sri Lanka's Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation a day after Inner City Press asked about torture by that country's army. Before that, Jeffrey Feltman who has played a role in the rift between Guterres and Kenya was in Guterres' office, then by the elevators. Will there be a memoir? After the Turkish photo op, mixed results in the International Court of Justice voting. Lebanon's Nawaf Salam won a seat, but India's Bhandari and UK Greenwood will fight another round on Monday. Only at the UN. Back on November 7 when Guterres met Argentina's President Mauricio Macri on November 7, Macri had come from the site of the recent terrorist attack on the West Side Highway bike path. Guterres has just returned from three days in Lisbon, justified by a 15-minute speech. In Guterres' team to meet Macri was fellow Argentine Virginia Gamba, previously on Syria chemical weapons. Down in the Security Council, her successor Edmond Mulet was being asked questions he didn't answer (Inner City Press / Alamy photos of Nikki Haley and Syria's Ja'afari at the meeting, here.) Somewhere on the 38th floor Guterres' Deputy Amina Mohammed was holding two meeting, while her office (and Guterres' spokespeople) never answered a simple Press question for a copy of a speech she gave at a $25,000 a sponsor fundraiser. Inner City Press, already subject to a Kafka-esque threat to accreditation by Guterres' head of Global Communications Alison Smale for using Periscope during photo op(s) on the 38th floor, was surveilled as it prepared to Periscope. Thus it missed what others captured: Guterres' personal back pad being put in his chair, him walking by with notes for the Macri meeting. This is today's UN. On November  3 Guterres accepted the credentials of El Salvador's new Ambassador Ruben Armando Escalante Hasbun on November 1, a successor to Carlos Garcia who was exposed as having helped money laundering in the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe UN bribery trial in July 2017. Under Guterres, these practices continue - in fact, Guterres has become even less transparent. For example, on November 3 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who had just cut short Inner City Press' questions about Guterres' inaction on the killings by the Cameroon government, these questions: "is the Secretary General having a one-on-one lunch on 38th floor today? is it with a journalist / editor? is it on or off the record? why isn't this lunch on the SG's public schedule? is it with Gillian Tett?" Dujarric's and the UN's answer on this: "I have nothing to say to the SG’s schedule that’s not public." So Guterres decides which meeting are not public. Inner City Press has asked: "On the lunch, the question is WHY it is not public. Can it be considered "internal"?" Watch this site. On October 31 Guterres met Human Rights Council president Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli, saying "Bienvenido" repeatedly before ushering the Press to leave: essentially, Adios. That's what the Trump administration is considering saying to the UN Human Rights Council, now after the election of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Council. The UN Secretariat has its own human rights problems. Not only impunity for sexual abuse by peacekeepers and bringing cholera to Haiti, not only praising and accepting gift from human rights abusers like Cameroon's Paul Biya, but also for example disparate treatment and retaliatory restrictions on the investigative Press. Guterres has not reversed this. In fact, on October 20 his Department of Public Information under Alison Smale issued a further threat to Inner City Press' accreditation, citing an undefined violation at a stakeout just like that on October 31. This threat comes just as Inner City Press pursues Team Gutereres inaction on the killings in Cameroon. Guterres met French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on October 30, three days after he took an award from Cameroon's French-supported president Paul Biya. Inner City Press came early for the photo op but was delayed, then hindered. . But Inner City Press belatedly went, and although DPI's Kafka-esque theats made it suspend the Periscope, it can report that with Guterres were his pro-Biya adviser Khassim Diagne, and former French mission legal adviser (an office in the orbit of Beatrice Le Frapeur du Hellen, Inner City Press scoop here). Under DPI's censorship orders, we'll wait to report more, including on the push to get the US to pay for the G5 Sahel force - except what was in plain sight, Guterres' personal back rest being installed in his chair. Guterres met Spain's Secretary of State Ildefonso Castro López on October 16, hours after Spain won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council with no mention of its crackdown in Catalonia. Guterres has also been scheduled to meet the foreign minister of Togo Robert Dussey just before, but that meeting or at least photo op got canceled, as did a stakeout by Guterres that UNTV had been setting up for in the morning. As Inner City Press has exclusively reported, Guterres or his Global Communications chief aim to make this upcoming trip to Central African Republic a litmus test of how to present the UN in a positive light - despite the sexual abuse by peacekeepers. We'll have covering, rather than covering up, that. On October 12 Guterres belatedly swore in three senior official on October 12: Vladimir Voronkov, USG for Counter-Terrorism, Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament, and Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator. Photos of each here. Inner City Press arrived early for the photo op, but found itself in a long line with tourists at the metal detectors on 45th Street. Because it covered UN bribery of John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, it was evicted and now is slowed in entering, confined to minders once in. But up on the 38th floor the head of UN Security greeted the incoming trio, particularly the UN Relief Chief. He was candid on Yemen; Ms. Nakamitsu's office only sends out information selectively. Jeffrey Feltman was not there, apparently on his way to Myanmar. There is still no non-interim Special Adviser on Africa. We'll have more on this. On October 9 Inner City Press went to cover Guterres' meeting with Bangladesh's Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhit. Present for the meeting - the UN side, notably, was all men, photo here - was UN Elections. After being quickly ushered out, in the elevator down was Darrin Farrant of the UN Department of Public Information, who more than a month ago when asked provide the email address of his new boss, Alison Smale. But petitions to Smale about unjustifiable restrictions on Press have gone unanswered; some from Cameroon have noted not only Smale “inordinate” focus on her former beat, Germany, on Catalonia, but also her DPI's lawless restrictions on the Press. She was not present on October 12, instead DPI was represented by Maher "It's all about you" Nasser, who refused to reverse his previous boss' censorship when he was in charge. On October 9 to stakeout the General Assembly meeting Inner City Press was required to get a DPI escort, unlike other no-show state media like Akhbar al Yom which DPI is trying to give Inner City Press' office, which sit empty. At the noon briefing, Inner City Press asked for a read out of the Bangladesh meeting (four hours later, none has been provided), and again for a read out of the Philippines meeting ten days before on September 29. That day at noon Guterres' spokesman, when Inner City Press asked whether there would be any action on UN staff in Myanmar describing retaliation by UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessalien, said only that Guterres stands behind Lok-Dessalien. So much for whistleblower protection. On Cameroon, Guterres' belated concern is not about killed civilians, but "territorial integrity."

 On July 31, Inner City Press asked if there is any press pool - no - and if Dujarric will at least in the future announce week-long absences by Guterres in advance. Dujarric did not say yes (he did, however, repeat that claim that the UN was the victim in its corruption case, saying that Yiping Zhou is gone. But what about Navid Hanif, who went to Macau? What about Meena Sur, who helped Ng? Both of them, and others involved, are still in the UN).

On July 13 Guterres had a meeting and photo op (Periscope here) with Estonia's President Kersti Kaljulaid, listed in the country's delegation was the coordinator of its run for a Security Council seat, Margus Kolga, previously the country's UN ambassador. Of the run, he has said "there are very many small nations. We are a small nation which came out from under occupation. We may serve as example to them, that this is possible and that a small nation has another perspective on the world which needs to be represented at the council. Most nations have spent far above the million we intend to." At least that is transparent. By contrast, Guterres' UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric earlier on July 13 refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe (RIP) UN bribery case, and even declined to answer Inner City Press' question about member states asking (it) whether Guterres will produce any document on reform prior to his July 22 retreat. So much for We the Peoples. But hello in the Security Council, it would seem, Estonia. Dujarric has repeatedly refused to provide a list of who works on Guterres' 38th floor; by eye Inner City Press noticed former French Mission legal adviser Tanguy Stehelin. Seconded? Dujarric has not answered. We'll have more on this.

 On July 5 Guterres had as a series of five credential photo ops on July 5, Inner City Press Periscoped all of them, with a particular eye on Zambia and Mauritania. Zambia's returning Permanent Representative Lazarus Kapambwe gave the greeting of his president; one wondered if in the ten minute closed door meeting that followed the continued lock-up of opposition figure HH was raised. (Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Guterres' holdover spokesman about it, with only vague generalities resulting). Mauritania, Guterres called "un pillier" (just as he ten minutes later called Moldova a pillar) - but did Western Sahara, on which there has been no UN envoy for some time, come up? Moldova's past Permanent Representative moved in the South South News world of Ng Lap Seng, now on trial for UN bribery, although that may have been in his "personal capacity." And last was South Centre, which is testifying this week to the World Intellectual Property Organization, whose director Francis Gurry's retaliation and patent work for North Korea Guterres has apparently not raised with him. Guterres was slated to present reform plans at 11 am, but in the Ecosoc Chamber which evicted and restricted Inner City Press is required to seek a minder to cover, unlike other less interested media like Egypt's state Akhbar al Yom. This is today's - and now Guterres' - UN.  Inner City Press' Haiti questions remain unanswered, among with Cameroon, the Rif and more. 


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