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Reporters Grabbed by ISIS in Syria Cited in French "Off the Record" Event

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 13, updated -- The French-sponsored meeting about protection of journalists held today in UN Conference Room 1 is ironically, described by its hosts as "off the record."

 When Inner City Press arrived before 10 am, it was first told, "no press." Then after some discussion it was allowed to enter -- after its backpack was searched for any camera.

 But inside the hosts themselves took and tweeted photographs. So we offer this, in real time:

  International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda spoke about Sudan, and said that people can write to her about attacks on journalists in the ICC's eight cases, all in Africa.

  Earlier in the week Inner City Press asked Bensouda UN Peacekeeping official Herve Ladsous having met with ICC indicted Omar al Bashir in July. She said she had been given no information about that meeting, and that non-essential meetings are not appropriate.

  Ladsous has not answered Press questions on what his Bashir meeting was about. In fact, he has adopted a policy of not answering any question from Inner City Press: video here, UK coverage here. This is the UN.

  In Syria, ISIS has journalists hostage in Raqqa, the Arria meeting's attendees were told. Who has spoken to the group's Gulf sponsors?

  After the panelists finished, Araud gave the floor to other Security Council members, asking them to be concise so that "other members" could speak. States only?

11: 15 am: The UK's Mark Lyall Grant asked what more the Council could do; it was difficult not to think of the UK charging David Miranda, working with Glenn Greenwald to expose spying, under terrorism laws.

 The night before the event, the French Mission's spokesman sent out this:

On Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:18 PM, JUNG Frederic [at] wrote:

We have been advised that due to the specific format of this meeting, discussions will be held =off the record=, with no microphones or cameras.

 French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said the meeting would be "open to civil society and to the press." Click here for that.

After that, Inner City Press on the day of Council bilateral meetings asked the French delegation if the December 13 session would be on the record, though an "Arria formula" meeting.

  "It's an open Arria," was the response.

At the next day's press conference, at which Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access planned to ask about this "open Arria," French Ambassador Gerard Araud preemptively announced that all the journalists were invited to the session.

 Araud said, "La rencontre sera entièrement ouverte à la presse, vous êtes bien sûr invités à y participer" -- the event will be ENTIRELY open to the press.

  This is inconsistent with "closed" sign outside the meeting, the searching of bags for camera on the way in, and the statement inside that it is "off the record."

As they say... incroyable. Watch this site.


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