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UN: Sri Lanka


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

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On Nemtsov As Ban Shifts from Sad to Condemns, Echo of Reuters, AFP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 28,  updated* -- Everybody makes mistakes. On February 28 the UN's Office of the Spokesperson first said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was “saddened” by the murder of Boris Nemtsov -- then 50 minutes later correcting it to “condemns.”  Agence France Presse misreporting that Martin Bouygues was dead.

    The former correction gives rise to the question whether the UN received a complaint about Ban not condemning the killing, leading to the issuance of the correction.* It merits coverage.

  But Reuters, for example, simply retyped the “corrected” Ban Ki-moon statement, putting Ban in the same light as was done by Ban's in-house UN News Service.

   The backstory here is the Reuters at the UN has tried to get other, more critical media thrown out of the UN -- and has then gone so far as to censor from the Internet leaked copies of the Reuters “for the record” complaint.

  Here was the complaint; here via the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Chilling Effects project is the notice that the leaked complaint by Reuters has been blocked from Google's Search as a copyrighted book, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (set to be globalized by the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership.)

   That initial Reuters campaign culminated in a letter, also leaked, by Voice of America to the UN asking for Inner City Press' accreditation to be “reviewed,” here.

   A subsequent Inner City Press request under the Freedom of Information Act to VOA's Broadcasting Board of Governors yield documents showing that not only Reuters but also Agence France Presse coordinated with the VOA request.

  So did then and current United Nations Correspondents Association head Giampaolo Pioli, angry at an Inner City Press report that Pioli has been the landlord of Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's outgoing Ambassador to the UN.

  To come full circle, since Ban Ki-moon's statement are most often crafted within the UN Department of Political Afffairs, that DPA chief Jeffrey Feltman is currently in Sri Lanka may have played a role in the vacillation from “saddened” to “condemns.” We'll have more on this.

For now, a UN footnote: the new Free UN Coalition for Access notes that the Agence France Presse and Reuters pitch to expel was based on their wires having editors - did that stop the Bouygues mis-reporting, or the craven retyping and quid pro quo at the UN? FUNCA is against censorship, and for the rights of journalists.

* - The UN Office of the Spokesperson tells Inner City Press that  "the statement resissue was due to aclerical error on our part. Nothing more. On the rest we"ll revert" - including on FUNCA's press freedom question.


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