Outside Prayer For UNGA Inner City Press Asked Guterres and Nigerian PGA and DSG of Censorship and Cameroon

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Outside Prayer For UNGA Inner City Press Asked Guterres and Nigerian PGA and DSG of Censorship and Cameroon

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo here, Scope

UN GATE, Sept 16 -- After its  reporting on the United Nations as a resident correspondent for a decade, exposing war crimes and UN scandals from Sri Lanka to Yemen to Cameroon, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had Inner City Press roughly ousted by his UN Security and media accreditation stripped without a hearing by his Department of Global Communications now run by Melissa Fleming.

  On September 16 after the ban was reasserted by Guterres in Kafkaesque fashion, see below, Inner City Press went to ask why outside the "UNGA Prayer Ceremony" he and his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed, as well as her fellow Nigerian now President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad- Bande participated in. Video here.

  Arriving after a full afternoon of reporting from the SDNY federal court which saw the conviction for UN bribery of Patrick Ho of  CEFC China Energy, financial linked to Guterres, Guterres was just leaving. Inner City Press asked him why it had been banned from the Democracy Day event only hours before. As he mounted into his public funded limousine, Gutteres did not answer.

  Same with Amina J. Mohammed, hustled into her Escalade by UN guards. Tijjani Muhammad- Bande seemed to affirmatively say no, Anglophone Cameroon's illegal refouled by his country will NOT be considered during his year as PGA. We'll have more, much more, on this.

  Last week Inner City Press, after RSVP-ing to an invitation to attend a "UN Democracy Day" event in the UN on September 16, received these instructions: " event “Inclusion and Participation as Foundations of Democracy” that will be held on Monday, 16 September 2019 from 15:00 – 16:30 in Conference Room 8 (1B Level, GA Building) with 14:30 – 15:0 light food and refreshments, next to Vienna Cafe.   Should you have no valid UN grounds pass, you will require a Special Event Ticket (SET) to access the event at the United Nations.  This is to confirm that I have received your RSVP and will have an SET for (all) the name(s) you have provided.     Disbursement of SETs will be as follows:     10:00 - 13:00 - Monday, 16 September 2019: You can pick up Special Events Tickets at the Office of the Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the UN located at 336 E 45th St (and 1st Ave) 14th Floor starting at 10:00." Photo here.

  Just after 10 am on September 16, Inner City Press went to 336 East 45th Street, which is Uganda House, signed in and up to the 14th floor. There it was confirmed that it has RSVP, but that mysteriously unlike others there was no ticket waiting for it. Inner City Press was told to meet the sponsors at 2:30 pm in front of the UN to be signed in. Periscope video here.

  Then, after posing in writing to the UN a question before that even at the time of the event had not been responded to, in class Guterres Kafka-esque and corruption fashion, this was received from the sponsoring group itself:

From: Massimo Tommasoli at idea got int
Date: Mon, Sep 16, 2019 at 12:26 PM
Subject: Fw: RSVP
To: Inner City Press

  Dear Mr. Lee, Unfortunately the UN Security informed us that you will not be allowed to attend our event because of the UN decision of banning you from the UN premises. I shall therefore be unable to obtain a temporary pass for you." Photo here.

  The UN never told IDEA that it had granted 29 other request but not that for Inner City Press; it did not thereafter explain to IDEA why. Inner City Press has immediately written to Guterres, Fleming, Stephane Dujarric, Amina J. Mohammed, Jay Pozenel and USG DSS Gilles Michaud: "This is a request for the UN to immediately explain the basis on which Inner City Press, despite RSVP-ing for today's Democracy Day event in CR8 and being told by IDEA it was approved and to come pick up ticket this morning in Uganda House - there was no ticket there.    I am asking in the context of USG DSS Michaud's message in late August saying that DSS only follows DPI/DGC's withdrawal of media accreditation, not any wider "ban" on entry. (He is cc-ed). This afternoon's event is not limited to UN accredited correspondents. Therefore I asked before 1:30 pm to be told that I will be allowed to enter with IDEA which now told me to come to the front of the UN at 2:30, or to be informed of the basis for withholding my ticket (and putting IDEA in this situation as well).     On deadline, along with the Cameroon, UN rape, Gulbenkian Foundation, CEFC China Energy and other questions below."

   How lawless can the UN be under Guterres? Watch this site.

  On 24 August 2019 Inner City Press applied to  Guterres and his new Communications and media accreditation chief Melissa Fleming to be admitted like hundreds of others to cover the upcoming UN General Assembly. On August 28 Inner City Press received from Guterres' Security chief Gilles Michaud an ill-informed response passing the buck to the Department now run by Fleming, who has not responded to four separate letters to her after she defended and covered up for the urging of "harder repression" by Paul Biya in Cameroon. Michaud sent this to Inner City Press:

"From: Gilles Michaud <gilles.michaud@un.org>
Date: Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 4:49 PM
Subject: RE: DSS treatment of Mr. Matthew Lee To: Inner City Press
Cc: Hua Jiang <jiang1@un.org>, Jay Pozenel <pozenel@un.org>  [also fleming@unhcr.org]

 Thank you for your message. I have taken the liberty of including counterparts from the Department of Global Communications and Office of Legal Affairs in my response.    

On 10 July 2018 UNDSS escorted Mr. Matthew Lee from the UNHQ complex after he attempted to gain unauthorized access to a locked area and subsequently refused to comply with repeated requests from UN Security to leave the premises, in breach of UN Media Guidelines and the UN Administrative Instruction on the authority of UN Security Officers in place at that time.     Following that incident – and on the basis of a review of a number of previous breaches of the Guidelines and Administrative Issuance – DPI/DGC considered Mr. Lee’s conduct to be inconsistent with the Guidelines for accredited UN correspondents and his accreditation was subsequently withdrawn.    

This decision stands and the DSS role is now limited to ensuring that unaccredited individuals do not enter the premises.    

I hope this clarifies.     Gilles Michaud  USG Safety and Security  United Nations        Gilles Michaud  USG Safety and Security  United Nations  Tel: 1-917-367-4652"

  Inner City Press sent a reply to Michaud and others including  SGCentral <sgcentral@un.org>, Amina Mohammed <amina.mohammed@un.org>, aminaj.mohammed@un.org, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti <marialuiza.viotti@un.org>, David Kaye <dkaye@law.uci.edu> and others:

"Dear Mr. Michaud -    Thank you for you response, which follows the message I sent you this morning intending to ensure that I am able to enter and cover the upcoming UNGA High Level week like hundreds or thousands of other correspondents.      This should take place, and here with all due respect is why:     While you say "I hope this clarifies," frankly what it clarifies is the lawless cover-up of UN censorship which has occurred for the past 421 days.     Essentially you state, and apparently believe, that DSS has only been enforcing USG Smale's decision to remove my 10 year media accreditation without a single hearing or right to appeal.     Be aware that DPI, now DGC, has for its part attempted to tell me that it is DSS's decision.     But you should most certainly be aware that in fact DSS officials, including  not limited to Matthew Sullivan and "Tiny," has said on camera that I am on DSS' "barred" list, and have blocked me from entering the UN with tickets in my name to event I was invited to, not as a journalist. I will be happy to provide with the photos of the tickets, including to a human rights event and also to a film to which I was invited by UNODC.    

So contrary to your clarification, DSS has not been ensuring that a person - me - not accredited by DPI/DGC as a journalist not enter the UN as a journalist, but that a person be entirely barred from any entry of the UN, even as a tourist...

You say that on July 10, 2018 I "attempted to gain access to a locked area." This is false. First, it was July 3, 2018.    

Second, the "locked area" was the Vienna Cafe outside Conference Room Five where the Fifth (Budget) Committee was meeting. I have covered such meetings for a decade without incident; when Lt Dobbins and his colleague grabbed me, I has just conducted an interview with Cameroon PR Tommo Monthe.    

They laid hands on my before I had any opportunity to leave - grabbing my laptop where I was typing up my interview. The Vienna Cafe area was not locked, and MALU guidelines say even non resident correspondents can stay until meeting are over, and thirty minutes after. So this is false.     In my email to you this morning I offered to answer any questions you had, since I was never given any opportunity to be heard after in June and July 2018 DSS was directed to throw me out of the UN even when I was authorized to be there - a speech by the SG in the GA lobby at 7 pm in June, the Budget Committee meeting in July.     I am still willing to show you the documentation of any and all of this. But if DSS has no block on me, and DPI now DGC never gave me a hearing and claims to respect freedom of the press, my August 24 application for accreditation like 100s of other correspondent who don't even write much about the UN should be granted immediately, now four days after I applied.  Given the timing, I ask for confirmation of my ability to enter, forthwith. Please confirm receipt of this message, and the above.   Thank you for your time,  Matthew Russell Lee, Esq., Inner City Press Past (and future?) Office at UN: Room S-303, UN HQ, NY NY 10017."

 Then after further messages with the UN which are subject to publication, past 4 pm on Friday, August 30 the UN issued a denial of accreditation with no reasoning other than that accreditation had previously been revoked:

"From: malu <malu@un.org>
Date: Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 4:23 PM
Subject: U.N. eAccreditation request for Matthew Lee Ref # M5413398 has been declined
To: Inner City Press:

Greetings Matthew Lee from Inner City Press,  Your media accreditation request, with reference no: M5413398, has been declined for the following reason: Media accreditation was withdrawn on 17 August 2018."

  This is Kafka-esque, and corrupt. We will have more, much more, on this. For this, here was from the August 24, 2019 application:

"I am writing to you a month before the UN General Assembly high level week as a journalist who after covering the United Nations for Inner City Press for ten years was roughed up and thrown out of the UN as I covered its Fifth (Budget) Committee on 3 July 2018 and have been denied all access since. There was no due process, no right to appeal, nothing. The Department's and MALU's lack of any content neutral accreditation rules, rule process including appeal rights for jouranlists, must also be addressed.  I should now be granted accreditation like hundreds of correspondents who publish far fewer stories about the UN and international affairs than I do. I ask for your immediate response.     I have a right to cover the UN, the Security Council, ECOSOC and General Assembly including next month's High Level week. For your information despite now ending USG Smale having assured the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression that during my exclusion my written questions would be answered, the questions have not been."

 Receipt was confirmed from many, including "From: malu Date: Sat, Aug 24, 2019 at 7:28 PM Subject: Your U.N. eAccreditation Request has been RECEIVED To: Inner City Press Greetings Matthew Lee,  This is to confirm the United Nations Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (M.A.L.U.) at New York Headquarters has received your request for accreditation. Please be assured every effort will be made to review the request as soon as possible. Upon processing, a notification email (to the email address registered with the request) will provide the status update, to confirm an approval or rejection, and any additional information which may be required." Watch this site - we will report in detail going forward.


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