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UN Guterres Justifies Censorship With Lies Like That Inner City Press Shouted at Smale's Building But Has Never Been There

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, CJR Letter PFT, Video

UNITED NATIONS GATE, August 31 – Before Inner City Press was roughed up by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Security on June 22 and July 3, 2018 and under a ban on entry since then, made "permanent" by Guterres head of Global Communications or censorship Alison Smale on August 17, it insistently asked about Guterres' conflicts of interest, for example with murderous Cameroon chairing the UN Budget Committee where Guterres sought support or with the business interests of his family, as for disclosure of how many of Guterres' publicly funded trip took him through his real home, Lisbon. (The answer, with no UN help, is at least 14.) Now on August 31 Inner City Press has been informed of some of the intentional mis-information Guterres and Smale are trying to use to justify their censorship of the critical Press. Two senior UN officials who are privately outraged at what Guterres is doing, one calling Guterres "arrogant" and the other "abusive," both recount hat  supporters of Guterres are spreading the rumor that Inner City Press "went to the apartment of Alison Smale and shouted at her." We've heard that from others as well. It is an outright lie, not nearly the first by the team of Guterres, Smale and Dujaric. First, Inner City Press doesn't even know, or want to know, where Smale lives. Second, while Inner City Press several times tried to explain to Smale that her total failure to implement content neutral accreditation and access rules (and rather hob-nobbing with now retired correspondents of or before her era) would lead and has led to shameful censorship, Inner City Press never raised its voice, even when at the Russian Mission to the UN Smale's pianist husband Sergei Dreznin told Inner City Press it would always be targeted until it wore a suit. (For now, he will presumably have access during GA week to the UN, where he played back up piano, while Guterres through Smale bans Inner City Press which actually covers the UN, Yemen, Myanmar and (Guterres wishes it wasn't so) Cameroon.. So the UN of Smale and Guterres, now on his way to China after refusing to answer why Inner City Press is banned, is powered by lies - is it any wonder that no conflicts have been prevented? In fact, Guterres poured gas on Biya's killings in Cameroon, staying quiet for his reasons(s) and sending the envoy Francois Lounceny Fall who equated separatists with extremists? We'll have more on this. Despite Smale's assuarces, Inner City Press' questions are not being answered by Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, and Guterres has had Inner City Press banned from the UN for life, by his Global Communicator Alison Smale who has failed to make even the minimal public financial disclosure called for under Guterres' predecessor Ban Ki-moon. Guterres' forms do not include the business interests of his direct children - but they should, see below.

On August 31, the 59th day Inner City Press has been banned from the UN by Guterres, there was nothing listed on Guterres' schedule until 4:30 pm: grip and grin photo op with the new Ambassadors on Armenia, Costa Rica, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sidhartha Francisco Marin Aráuz of Nicaragua. But at 1:10 pm some of Guterres many guards -- one, Lt Ronald E Dobbins, twice roughed up Inner City Press on June 22 (which Inner City Press wrote to Guterres about on June 25) and more so on July 3 - showed up telling other cars including diplomats' cars where they could and couldn't park on 46th Street. Soon fully three black 4x4s pulled up in front of the restaurant Aretsky's Patroon, which recently hosted Hillary Clinton. Out stepped Guterres and UN President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak, who disclosed a 1:15 pm appointment with Guterres. First (silent) video here.  An hour and a half later, Guterres emerged with his chief of staff Maria Luiza Viotti and with Miguel Graca. Inner City Press asked, calmly but audibly, why Guterres is banning it from entering to cover the General Assembly Week, which is has covered for 11 years, about what he has (not) done on Cameroon and on conflicts of interest related to his son's business links, first reported by Inner City Press. As is the Guterres way, he got into his limosine. Video here. By contrast the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak listened when Inner City Press asked about access to the GA and seemed... well, we'll see and report.

Guterres, as is typically including on the business dealings of his son, did not even disclose his meeting with Lajcak. Guterres has shown such bias in having Inner City Prss roughed up and banned that Inner City Press has asked Lajcak, and will ask him and hereby his successor again, to take over the case and ensure Inner City Press can cover the upcoming UN General Assembly week. Lajcak's chief of staff says Lajcak is trying; his spokesman says "I discussed your letter with the PGA. Please know that he is personally sympathetic to your situation. He also continues to strongly believe that the UN should be as transparent as possible and that journalists should be able to do their work without hindrance.
At the same time, our practice here at the UN is for the Secretariat – not the Office of the PGA – to handle matters related to media accreditation and security. In that regard, we will continue to defer to the Secretariat in such areas. The PGA appreciates your interest in and coverage of the General Assembly. In that regard, from our side, we will continue to respond to your journalistic questions – whether you are inside or outside UNHQ. I look forward to our continued collaboration during the rest of the 72nd session." We'll have more on this As Inner City Press has now exclusively reported, Guterres' son Pedro Guimarães e Melo De Oliveira Guterres has been Manager of Planning and Control at PT Portugal since 2009, see here. And "PT Portugal has significant interests in telecommunications companies in Angola, Cape Verde, Namibia and São Tomé and Principe in Africa and in Timor-Leste in Asia," see US SEC filing here. (Guterres recently rebuffed, in an entreaty to stop banning Inner City Press, Time Leste's Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta, here). Given that his father, as a UN Secretary General who has shown himself willing to stay quiet of the deaths of Anglophone Cameroonians to gain the support of Cameroon's Ambassador as chair of the UN Budget Committee, has and can impact on each of these countries, where are the clearly needed controls against conflict of interest? Inner City Press Periscop stand-up, here. As Guterres flies off for a business confab about Africa and China from September 1 to 4, complete with 100 businesses from Cameroon where Guterres is complicit in the crackdown, how is he recusing himself there and in New York (and Lisbon) from involvement in things impacting where his son's company does business and makes money? We'll have more on this - for now despite the empty promises of Guterres' Global Communicator Alison Smale who has banned Inner City Press for life without any hearing or appeals process that written questions would be answer, none have been for three days, including on another Inner City Press exclusive noted from on high in UNDP, here.  Inner City Press on August 28 published the first in this exclusive and detailed series. Here from multiple member state sources are the dates of Guterres' 14 -- 30% of total UN trips - through Lisbon for each of which Inner City Press has asked, and not been answered, and live-stream Periscope of the UN's empty massion on 57th Street and Sutton Place for which it was roughed up and banned:

1/13/2017-1/20/2017    NY->Lisbon->Geneva->Davos Platz->Zurich

2/9/2017-2/20/2017            NY->Istanbul->Riyadh->Dubai->Abu Dhabi->Muscat->Doha->Cairo->Frankfurt->Bonn->Munich->Lisbon

2/24/2017-2/27/2017    NY->Lisbon->Geneva

3/25/2017-3/31/2017    NY->Lisbon->Amman->Baghdad->Arbil->Gaziantep

5/9/2017-5/22/2017            NY->London->Beijing->Strasbourg->Geneva->Lisbon

5/25/2017-5/29/2017    NY->Catania->Lisbon

6/20/2017-6/26/2017    NY->Entebbe->Lisbon

6/27/2017-7/4/2017            NY->Washington DC.->Geneva->Lisbon, (30/06/2017 - 04/07/2017 in Lisbon)

11/3/2017-11/7/2017    NY->Lisbon

2/12/2018-2/19/2018    NY->Kuwait->London->Munich->Lisbon

3/14/2018-3/16/2018    NY->Rome->Lisbon

5/11/2018-5/19/2018    NY->Lisbon->Vienna->Brussels->Washington DC

5/23/2018-5/31/2018    NY->Geneva->Lisbon->Paris->Bamako

7/6/2018-7/11/2018        NY->Lisbon->Addis Ababa->Kinshasa

  Do the member states paying for this - whom Guterres' Smale quotes without name as supporting the roughing up of and permanent ban on Inner City Press, agree with this? Do they know this? How arrogant or out of touch a self-styled world leader is has been revealed in the Leader's contemptuous approach to freedom of the press and whose who even gently chide him on it, including a Nobel Peace Prize winner. No, this is not a reference to Donald Trump, but to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The Nobel Peace Prize winner who has sought the reversal of Guterres' outrageous 56 day and counting ban on Inner City Press even entering the UN is Jose Ramos Horta of Timor Leste, still serving Guterres' UN, who told Inner City Press on August 27, "Dear Matthew I did reach the very inner sanctum of the UN system reporting on your case to no avail. Apologies but I don't know what else I can do." Later on August 27 an independent journalist asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric why things are not fixed with Inner City Press' access, since it "looks bad" given other attacks on press freedom. Video here. Dujarric tried to cut the journlist off, insisting to say this is about freedom of the press would be wrong. (Then why is it in the Press Freedom Tracker, here, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others for example in the UK, Japan, Italy and Cameroon?) Dujarric changed the earlier reference to Inner City Press being in a "garage ramp" - something Guterres' Grand Inquisitor Alison Smale never asked Inner City Press about - to being in the "parking lot." (Inner City Press' pass worked to get there, many use it as a way to exit, and several senior UN official, anti-Guterres sources of Inner City Press ask to meet it and give it documents there. Maybe that's the reason.) Dujarric then said that Inner City Press creates a "hostile environment" for the diplomats, some times correspondents and always UN officials it covers. Seems clear the ban is entirely about freedom of the Press, freedom to question, and a Secretary General and vindictive team of holdovers who seek to retaliate against questions and coverage, including live streamed covering, with a lifetime ban with no appeal. Here is an example of Inner City Press' August 28 questioning at the Delegates Entrance, since Guterres and Alison Smale have banned it from the Security Council stakeout. Is this hostile?  Would Guterres, former NYT bureau chief Smale and former former Dujarric like to write Inner City Press' questions? Its articles? Perhaps to omit all refernce to Cameroon and what Guterres did and didn't do? On August 28 during an empty noon briefing Inner City Press was again banned from, it asked in writing Dujarric, Alison Smale, Amina J. Mohammed and others 13 questions including: "At yesterday's noon briefing you said I am banned because I was “found in the parking lot.” Since no one spoke to me about this, please state when and where, and explain how that is a violation if non resident correspondents' passes open those doors, unlike the bathrooms on the 4th floor, and how this Trumped up into so serious a violation as to ban me, including from the upcoming UNGA week. Also, again, name the diplomats (and UN staff and journalists) you yesterday publicly said I created a hostile environmental for. Honestly, that was not my intent. But I have a right to know. And it sounds troublingly similar to questioning and critique: free press. August 28-2: This is again a request to be informed -- including if the question is view as hostile - of the reason on the SG's Public Financial Disclosure page USG Smale is not listed, while Natalia Gherman who was named to her position later than USG Smale is listed and has made public disclosure - and for an explanation why Smale did not recuse herself as was clearly called for from banning me." While two other questions were answered on August 28, these were not touched. This is censorship.  For now, though, Nobel Peace Prize winner who has worked for the UN has been rebuffed. What they say Trump is, Guterres is as well and more so - only Guterres has actually roughed up and banned a critical journalist for 55 days, with total impunity. Hence this story. After having covered the UN since 2005 for Inner City Press, and pursued stories of UN under-performance from Sri Lanka to Darfur and Haiti to Yemen and most recently Secretary General Antonio Guterres' failure and conflict of interest on Cameroon, at 4 pm on Friday August 17 I got a four page letter from Under Secretary General Alison Smale, formerly the New York Times' Berlin bureau chief. We've put the letter on Scribd here, Patreon download here

The letter informed me, without a single opportunity to be heard and offer rebuttal, that “your accreditation is hereby withdrawn pursuant to the Guidelines.” It cited what it called three previous warnings. But on further inspection there is no there, there. See below. In the middle of the now 55 day ban, Jose Ramos Horta who has known and answered Inner City Press for years wrote to it, somewhat comedicly, "I am puzzled by such an extreme DPI decision of banning you for life from UNHQ for reporting purposes. Here in Timor Leste our Govt never ever barred a journalist from entering a public space and reporting even though our Media has never been friendly with Govt officials.I cannot imagine how serious an offense you may have committed that may have justified such an extreme action by DPI. Did you throw a bomb, rotten eggs, tomatoes, spaghetti at some guy? I shall try to reach the SG." And then, on August 27, "Dear Matthew I did reach the very inner sanctum of the UN system reporting on your case to no avail. Apologies but I don't know what else I can do." This is how arrogant and out of touch Guterres is, Lusophone or not. People would report this about Trump, whole profiles of those they say should have spoken out - Mattis, Kelly, members of Congress and the Senatre - and isolation and rage. But what about Guterres? Jose Ramos Horta, who has never had a problem being public, is a man of integrity, on the right side on this one when all is said and done. What about others? We'll have more, much more, on this - there has been other outreach, and more to come. One individual, even with a former NYT Global Communicator like Alison Smale, cannot be allowed to censor like this, to impose a ban on a journalist for the first time in 40 years, an active journalist Guterres and Smale and UNnamed others want to prevent or hinder Inner City Press from covering this UN General Assembly High Level Week and the UN going forward. We will not rest. Watch this site.

  In her lifetime ban letter, Smale also claimed that Guterres' spokesmen would answer Inner City Press' e-mailed questions. But this it false. Of the fourteen question Inner City Press e-mailed to them, and Smale, and Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed and others on August 23 and 24, not one was answered. Not one. Including: "August 24-3: Given that Deputy Spokesman Haq told IPS “we respect his press rights, but we also want to respect other’s press rights. And some journalists feel their press rights have been impeded by his actions” - state, since this is the basis of me being banned, who these are, and how they feel their press rights have been impeded by my actions. Also all video and other evidence that Haq alluded to to IPS should be produced, today, since it is the basis of my being banned." Nothing has been provided, eight hours later, by Spokesman Stephane Dujarric who was drawing pay all day after having essentially ordered or passed on from his boss the order to rough up Inner City Press. From the IPS article: "Lee has been known for asking thought-provoking questions during daily briefings and at press stakeouts. He has reported on global conflicts such as those in Sri Lanka, Congo, Somalia, and others... However, the incidents with Lee started back in 2012, when he was warned by the DPI to treat his fellow journalists with respect." That's not the case. In 2012, the President of the UN Correspondents Association Giampaolo Pioli, who had rented one of him Manhattan apartments to one Palitha Kahona then unilaterally granted his request or demand for an UNCA screening of the war crimes denial film of the Sri Lanka government he represented at the UN, ordered Inner City Press to remove from the Internet its article about the conflict of interest. Inner City Press declined but offered to publish any response, at any length. Pioli and the UNCA board demanded removal of the article, and ultimately Inner City Press quit UNCA and co-founded FUNCA, the Free UN Coalition for Access. The UN claimed it was uninvolved - instead, then head of Accreditation Stephane Dujarric tried to condition Inner City Press' re-accreditation as a resident correspondent on more positive coverage of the Secretariat, specifically his fellow Frenchman Herve Ladsous, the head of Peacekeeping who famously said peacekeepers would rape less if they had more "R&R." So from 2012 it was the UN trying to strong arm positive coverage of its officials, and using the aura of "other correspondents" in UNCA as the leverage - making UN the UN Censorship Alliance.
  The article continues: "wo years ago, things changed: he was in an interpreter’s booth recording a closed-door meeting of UN correspondents, without their consent. Then, DPI’s Media and Liaison Unit (MALU) made the decision to downgrade his accreditation from “resident correspondent” to “non-resident correspondent”, which means he was deprived of his own office space, barred from going to the UN on weekends and prevented from staying late hours and restricted from some areas in the building. Although Lee believes this was “bogus reason” for the treatment he received, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary General, told IPS: 'Matthew has come up with his own version on his website. But in that case I know to be true what I saw with my eyes.'"
  What the IPS article - which we are appreciative of, including for getting these quotes - omits is that this supposedly closed meeting was in the UN Press Briefing Room, open to all journalists. And Haq, when he followed Dujarric in, reflexively took the side of the UN Censorship Alliance, saying of Inner City Press, "He lies a lot." Video hereIs that appropriate, under Smale's rules of procedure?
  IPS continues, " It seemed that the change in his accreditation pass had no effect. “After that, the problems with his behavior did not subside”, said Haq.

[That is, the goal is taking Inner City Press' work space and giving it to no-show, no question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Yousseff was to make Inner City Press behavior or reporting "subside." Note as the article didn't and perhaps didn't have to that Farhan Haq previously worked for IPS - that and his father are how he got his UN job - and presumably was a member of UNCA. We'd asked but wouldn't get an answer, if the past is any guide.]

IPS: "On June 22nd, Lee had to be removed from the UN premises as he stayed long after his accreditation permitted him, and on July 3rd, he was similarly found long after 9 pm within a restricted area of the complex. UN Security removed him from the premises, but he apparently resisted."

 As Inner City Press has told IPS, "noted for the record

I'm appreciative of the detailed article, but for the record: "On June 22nd, Lee had to be removed from the UN premises as he stayed long after his accreditation permitted him." It was 7:15 pm, Antonio Guterres had just given a speech, video here;


... "on July 3, he was similarly found long after 9 pm within a restricted area of the complex. UN Security removed him from the premises, but he apparently resisted." There is video, and an NYPD criminal report (UN hasn't waived immunity), " video here;

and finally (for now)

... "on July 3, he was similarly found long after 9 pm within a restricted area of the complex. UN Security removed him from the premises, but he apparently resisted." There is video, and an NYPD criminal report (UN hasn't waived immunity).