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Biden's Acceptance of Press Restrictions by UN Raised to CPJ on Night & Day Report, Kabul and Assange

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell Book
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 13 – The Biden Administration's record on press freedom was the topic of a report and Zoom press conference by the Committee to Protect Journalists held on January 13.  

  Amid substantial praise of the Biden administration in contrast to its predecessor, mild criticism was leveled against the Administration's position on Julian Assange and performance in getting journalists out of Afghanistan. 

 Inner City Press asked questions, in writing and then by audio over Zoom:     

"Is the Biden Administration committed to press freedom at international organizations? The question is in context of his State Department being yet to act on the United Nations in New York banning all journalists from Taiwan, for example, and also ousting and banning US-based Inner City Press amid its investigative reporting, with no way to appeal or get back in. The Department has been asked but done nothing.

"See also... recent UN Appeals Tribunal full panel decision about the UN's lifetime ban on Inner City Press, saying it is up to member states - like, the US / Biden Administration?

Separately, what do you think of DOJ's press accessibility, given their withholding of court exhibits in the Jan 6 cases and the recent Ghislaine Maxwell trial?"

  While not directly answered by CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney during the press conference - the report's author Leonard Downie said the issue of DOJ withholding court exhibits in the US v. Ghislaine Maxwell trial in SDNY and the January 6 cases in DDC had not been raised to him by the journalists he chose to speak with - later CPJ provided these answers, which are appreciated: 

"With respect to the question you raised about Taiwan; We believe that international bodies that require accreditation should ensure that journalists are eligible for such accreditation irrespective of their country of origin or that of their news outlet. For bodies like the U.N., accreditation processes must uphold their stated commitments to press freedom and take into account the need for journalists from all over the world to meaningfully access and engage in news-gathering activities.

 With regards to your question about the Biden Administration's committed to press freedom at international organizations, that question is best directed at the Administration.

  While the UN can reasonably assert that violating known guidelines could result in the loss of credentials, it was not as transparent as it could have been throughout its investigation. We would encourage the UN to implement a more transparent investigation process for incidents involving accredited press, both resident or non-resident. Any formal process adopted by the UN for reviewing credentials should provide an opportunity where the journalist is able to respond to any allegations made against them."

   On this last, the next question is what will CPJ, omnipresent at the UN including meeting directly with SG Antonio Guterres and presumably Guterres' media accreditation (and blocking) chief Melissa Fleming, actually do to make the UN do this?

The UN has provided no due process, no appeals process, and has kept Inner City Press banned since July 3, 2018 based on unspecified (and dubious) violations, such as staking out a UN budget committee evening meeting as Inner City Press had under Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon. The only difference? Antonio Guterres, CPJ's apparently good friend.

The CPJ report is ‘Night and day’: The Biden administration and the press, by Leonard Downie Jr., here. Watch this site.     


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