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As UNSG Guterres Has Banned Inner City Press 21+ Days His Alison Smale Says It was Uncivil While Assaulted At Budget Cttee

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 24 – Two weeks after banning Inner City Press from entering the United Nations, which has closely and critically covered for a decade, UN Under Secretary General Alison Smale for the first time deigned to explain in writing her basis for the ban, or suspension of privileges. She wrote: “On two recent occasions, Mr. Lee violated th[e] Media Guidelines by attempting to access United Nations premises beyond the scope of his non-resident correspondent status and by confrontations with United Nations Security and Safety officials. While you have characterized these confrontations as being unprovoked, the relevant facts do not support that characterization. Furthermore, according to the above-mentioned Media Guidelines:

'Where unexpected circumstances arise, the approach will be to avoid confrontation, maintain civility and find the fastest, safest and most secure acceptable solution. Those Correspondents who violate the ground rules governing access, including the abovementioned standards of ethical behavior may have their accreditation withdrawn or suspended by the United Nations.'

As a result of Mr. Lee's recent actions in violation of the Media Guidelines and his unacceptable comportment when dealing with United Nations Security and Safety officials, Mr. Lee's privileges of access to the premises of the United Nations as a non-resident correspondent have been suspended. These privileges of access will remain suspended pending a review of this matter to determine what further action, if any, should be be taken with respect to such privileges.”

With the ban on Inner City Press now hitting three weeks, and Smale having left on a three week vacation, there is much to be said about her reasons. First, in other of the two occasions, Inner City Press was within the Guidelines, which state that “Non-Resident Correspondents can access UNHQ through the Visitors’ Entrance at 46th Street and 1st Avenue between 0800-1900 hours from Monday through Friday. Non-resident Correspondents only have access to UNHQ on weekends or after hours accompanied by a resident correspondent or when a meeting is advised as taking place. Entry will be allowed two hours prior to the start of the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, the non-Resident correspondent must exit the premises within an hour, unless accompanied by a resident correspondent.”

On June 22 Inner City Press was pushed out of the UN by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins, irregularities in whose promotion Inner City Press has reported on in a previous years, based on a UN Security e-email leaked to it, through the General Assembly lobby in which it was covering an event, listened in Smale's Department's Media Alert, which featured a speech by Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Dobbins called in four Emergency Response Unit officers who refused to give their names when Inner City Press asked.

On July 3 - after Inner City Press has complained in writing to Guterres about its improper ouster on June 22 including Dobbins' animus and the ERU officers' refusals to give their names - Dobbins and other still unnamed officer assaulted Inner City Press as it was covering a UN Budget Committee meeting, announced or advised to it by the UN Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly. The meeting concerned Guterres' $6.7 billion budget and proposed moving of UN jobs from New York to Mexico City, Uganda to Kenya and Geneva to Budapest. Inner City Press' reporter's laptop was smashed into his backpack, damaging it. His shirt was torn and his arm was pulled, then twisted.

Most ghoulishly, Smale's July 19 explanation to the Government Accountability Project claims that if a person being thus assaulted by UN Security speaks up, saying loudly “I am a journalist!” they are being uncivil, justifying a suspension of entry for three weeks and counting.

The “review” that Smale cites has included in these three weeks, as to Inner City Press, a single one hour interrogation on July 10 in a basement room across from the UN by UN Security officers Raughn Perry and Valentin Stancu. Perry asked questions, only about the July 3 ouster and refused to include in his write-up Inner City Press allegation of retaliatory animus by UN Lieutenant Dobbins or that Inner City Press had informed Guterres (and Smale) of it on June 25 before the July 3, making each of them partially responsible.

In the two weeks since that “interview” by UN Security, nothing, and not only Smale but also Guterres has gone on vacation, with his Spokesman now three times refusing to answer Inner City Press' written questions as to where, and how much the public is paying. We'll have more on this.


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