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Media Worktable at UNSC Seized by UN, Partners Silent, Banning the Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- If at the UN a journalist sets up a small work table by the Security Council, where one has existed for years, what happens?

  On Monday morning the UN's Department of Public Information seized the press work table.

  Then at the day's UN noon briefing when Inner City Press asked by what authority, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky replied by again and again referring to "extensive discussions" with his deputy, and with DPI's Stephane Dujarric.

  But neither stated when the proposed rule, immediately opposed on May 21 by the new Free UN Coalition for Access, would go into effect:

"f. The Security Council stakeout area, including the Turkish Lounge, is not to be used as a permanent workspace for the media. When the Council is not in session, correspondents should minimize the amount of time in the area, unless interviewing or conversing with a U.N. delegate or official."

  From May 21 right into the weekend of the move, Inner City Press and FUNCA worked to get the rules suspended or modified, asking about it at six -- now seven -- noon briefings and speaking with the Department of Public Information on May 31, and even on Saturday, June 1.

  None of this stopped DPI from seizing the small table on which work was attempted on June 3. Inner City Press was told that "a lady from DPI" took it.

   While no one from DPI has contacted Inner City Press about returning the table, or has responded to a status request e-mailed before 11 am on Monday, we note that one "lady from DPI" led a non-consensual raid on Inner City Press' last office on March 18, 2013.

After that, photographs of Inner City Press' desk and bookshelf were leaked to BuzzFeed immediately after that publication contacted Ban's spokesperson to ask about the raid.

  Nor did DPI's long time partner UNCA do or say anything about the seizing of the table. One UNCA board member proposed to send FUNCA a draft, but hasn't. UNCA president for 2103 Pamela Falk of CBS, took photographs of the March 18 raid, then issued a legal threat against questioning why she took the photos, has said she hadn't seen the draft of the Media Access Guidelines.

  But on June 3 the rules were apparently in effect -- under what else would DPI have seized a media worktable? And where is the incoming president of the Security Council on this? Watch this site.

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