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UN Searches Press Offices Without Consent, UNCA Snaps Photos

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 18 -- A week after Reuters and AFP filed complaints against Inner City Press for having called them lapdogs of UN officials, and a three days after the UN declined to provide a copy of the complaints, UN officials entered Inner City Press' office at the UN without permission and took photographs.

When Inner City Press, notified by another member of the Free UN Coalition for Access, arrived on the scene, the officials were inside its office, going through papers. In the hallway, the president of the UN Correspondents Association, Pamela Falk of CBS, took cell phone photographs.

The pre-text to search and photograph Inner City Press' office, without consent or notice, was safety. But Inner City Press was reachable all day. Inner City Press had been at the UN since 8:30 am, attending a briefing on Afghanistan also attended by the chief of the Department of Public Information.

After asking questions at a press conference on the Arms Trade Treaty -- where Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, who previously tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, demanded the first question for UNCA -- and the UN noon briefing, where only one other journalist asked a question (and none of Inner City Press' three questions were answered), Inner City Press returned to the Security Council stakeout.

But DPI directed UN Security to search Inner City Press office, and let others up to UNCA's president photograph it.

They're just trying to provoke you,” a non-UNCA member journalist remarked. But it is is outrage, very telling of the UN's lack of respect for rights including the right to free press, and very telling of the “leaders” of UNCA, an organization that now seeks to get journalists thrown out of the UN: the UN's Censorship Alliance. More to follow.

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