Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

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

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Smale Shows False Face of UN In Utah While Banning Press 270 Days in New York

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter The Hill

UNITED NATIONS GATE, March 29 – Six days after banning Inner City Press for life from the UN, back  on 23 August 2018 UN Global Communicator Alison Smale held a faux press conference from which the Press was banned to announce the UN will spend the public's money in Salt Lake City. Now in March 2019 Smale has gone out to Utah where, beyond Smale's own self serving propaganda, a single article has emerged on "Utah Policy," reporting that "Secretary Smale made her trip to Salt Lake to tour area facilities, visit with conference organizers and become familiar with the city prior to the United Nations event, scheduled for Aug. 26-28. The conference will be based at the Salt Palace Convention Center, but will be a boon for downtown hotels, restaurants and other attractions." But do they know that the UN is covering up for rapes by its peacekeepers, including of children, and refusing now to answer Press questions about the cases? Do they know that Smale, far from promoting transparency in the Organization, has yet to allow any hearing to, nor appeal by, the Press which reports on the UN bribery conviction of Patrick Ho and the China Energy Fund Committee, which has a financial link to her boss Antonio Guterres? Her deputy Maher Nasser, whose false testimony she used to justify her ghoulish lifetime banning order, has named "Maruxa Cardama, Secretary-General of the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport, as Chair of the sixty-eighth United Nations Civil Society Conference that will take place from 26 to 28 August in Salt Lake City, United States." Utah Policy gushed, "It is an extraordinary milestone for Utah to be chosen to host the first U.N. Civil Society Conference held outside of New York,” said Baldomero Lago, chief international officer for Utah Valley University and an official representative of the United Nations." An official representative of the UN? How so? We'll have more on this.

 Back in August 2018 minutes before Smale began, there were three journalists in the UN Press Briefing Room, if you include the personal friend of Smale's she channeled unedited into her banning letter. The room suddenly filled up with non journalists - a supposed no no, but Smale's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit did not enforce that rule (or, one hopes, lure any unsuspecting correspondent into "behavior" that Smale could uses as a pretext for punishment. Having to cover this from the UN bus stop made it hard to hear, but Smale was seen stepping off the podium before the end. The other speakers seemed fine and we hope to have more on and from them - Smale makes it difficult, with her outright censorship. It was moderated by another of the complainants Smale channeled, Maher Nasser, who blocked Inner City Press on Twitter after it asked about the placement of sexual exploitation and abuse on a Peacekeeping website he was promoting, and about rules. This is today's DPI, and UN. Utah, Smale seems to think, should make her censorship acceptable, she appears to think. There no way to know, because despite Smale's assurance in her no due process banning letter, of the ten questions Inner City Press asked by email on August 23, not a single one was answered, including the reiterated question, "
This is again a request to be informed of the reason on the SG's Public Financial Disclosure page USG Smale is not listed, while Natalia Gherman who was named to her position later than USG Smale is listed and has made public disclosure - and for an explanation why Smale did not recuse herself as was clearly called for from banning me. (There was also August 23-10: In terms of USG Smale's letter banning me for life please state who she says was disparaged, when, and in what medium / in person or not. Please provide the UN's version, and any UN video, of the June 19 private use of briefing room for Al Jazeera and critique afterward. Please immediately provide all UN video of the June 22 ouster and July 3 roughing up and ouster, and the names and nationalities of all involved officers.")
  If Smale doesn't make the minimal public financial disclosure, and it is not explained despite being asked repeatedly after she was accused by whistleblowers in her own Department of diverting funds allocated for Swahili services to English language social media promotion of Antonio Guterres, what about this spending in Salt Lake? Below is from the UN's press release, embargoed until 6 pm when we publish it, fifteen minutes before the press conference regarding which we asked Smale's Department: "request, as a journalist who has covered the UN for 12 years and is still covering it today, to be allowed to attend and ask questions at the 6:15 press conference by USG Smale who never spoke to me once before purporting to ban me for life." While not directly answered, the effect was of course no: more Smale censorship, a Press-less press conference." And this:"The sixty-seventh United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) / Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Conference which opened at UN Headquarters on 22 August 2018, concluded this afternoon. At the closing session, NGOs adopted by acclamation an outcome document, “People Centered Multilateralism: A Call to Action” in which they pledge to “uplift those whose human rights are most under threat and to protect our planet by living in harmony with nature.”  The document contains specific commitments made by civil society, as well as calls for UN Member States, multinational corporations and the UN Secretary-General and the UN. "DPI is proud to work closely with civil society to plan this unique event for networking and examining together how the UN and the NGO community can work together solve global problems.  We are heartened to see how strong support is for multilateralism among civil society and how committed they are to partner in the spirit of the UN Charter,” said Ms. Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, DPI. The chair of this year’s Conference, Ms. Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said, “The outcome document sets us on a path to reimagine multilateralism." At the closing, Under-Secretary General for Global Communications Alison Smale announced that next year Salt Lake City Utah, would host the 68th conference from 26 to 28 August. Mayor Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City said, “As a city committed to being inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, it is an honor to be the first U.S. host city of the UN-DPI Conference,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. For media inquiries, please contact Mr. Jeff Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events." Inner City Press, forced in order to continue its UN coverage to stakeout the Delegates Entrance, observed the well groomed Brez leaving the UN at 4 pm - two hours before Smale's Press-less press conference. We'll have more on all this.

Background: After having covered the UN since 2005 for Inner City Press, and pursued stories of UN under-performance from Sri Lanka to Darfur and Haiti to Yemen and Cameroon, at 4 pm on Friday August 17 I got a four page letter from Under Secretary General Alison Smale, formerly the New York Times' Berlin bureau chief. We've put the letter on Scribd here, Patreon download here

The letter informed me, without a single opportunity to be heard and offer rebuttal, that “your accreditation is hereby withdrawn pursuant to the Guidelines.” It cited what it called three previous warnings. But on further inspection there is no there, there. And Grand Inquisitor Alison Smale didn't even consider, or acknowledge, that Inner City Press had responded to the spurious complaints -- from the Morocco mission to the UN on 17 March 2017 and from DPI Deputy Maher Nasser, who blocks Inner City Press on Twitter, on 20 October 2017.

  We'll start with the latter, since a DPI official mis-using his position as Nasser did was the subject of Inner City Press timely request to Smale that she recuse herself (which she refused to do - she has functioned, after all, as Antonio Guterres Global Censor). After receiving via DPI's Tal Mekel at 6 pm on Friday 20 October 2017 a letter clearly drafted by Nasser, Inner City Press immediately published a story about it. The Free UN Coalition for Access, an actual press freedom advocacy group which DPI's Hua Jiang had threatened my accreditation for posting a sign for on my then office door, put out a press release and flier. And on Monday 23 March 17 before 11 am I sent the following to DPI including Smale (who has never responded to one of my more than a dozen e-mails, while openly laughing and socializing with corporate correspondents who are her friends) and to Guterres and his deputy Amina J. Mohammed: "From: Matthew R. Lee
Date: Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 10:18 AM
Subject: Response to UN to threat to accreditation of Inner City Press, which is retaliatory, vague and contrary to freedom of the press
To: Tal Mekel , SGCentral , amina.mohammed [at], alison.smale [at]
Cc: nasser [at], funca, The Free UN Coalition for Access

Dear Mr. Mekel, and those UN officials copied below (SG Guterres, DSG Mohammed, USG Smale, etc) --

The UN threat letter sent to me after 5 pm on Friday, attached, coming as it does as Inner City Press pursues stories not only of UN corruption but, most pressingly, inaction amid mass killings in Cameroon and elsewhere is troubling.

It has the obvious effect of discouraging reporting. For example, while it flatly states that I “breached” a rule during a photo op on the 38th floor, it does not say how, or even what day or which photo op.

The effect is to discourage me from covering any of these photo ops / meetings on the 38th floor, since I have no way of knowing when I will be charged with a violation under which you “may” review my accreditation.

This vagueness is contrary to, for example, the US First Amendment, but also numerous UN-claimed principles of freedom of the press and due process.

As to Mr Nasser's misuse of the DPI / MALU threat process to try to win an argument he escalated on Twitter on October 19, saying I should be less negative about the UN when I noted how many clicks it takes to find sexual abuse and exploitation information on the new DPKO site he promoted - before he blocked me on October 20 -- great outreach there, now communications are broken off -- the audio linked to in the article is from the stakeout area by the Secretariat lobby elevators. It did not violate even this rule that the DPI and DSS mis-negotiated, not with the press corps but a subset of the UN Correspondents Association, whose members by the way do not obtain or even seek prior consent for recording, and membership in which is not and cannot be required to be a resident correspondent.

But to Inner City Press, the UN writes in fine Kafka-esque style: “we would like to remind you that filming and recording on the 38th floor are limited to official photo opportunities, and recording conversations of others in the room is not permitted. It has been brought to our attention that you breached that rule recently. Please kindly take note that any further violation of the guidelines and established journalistic standards could lead to a review of your accreditation status.” When was the breach? If a UN official says or does something embarrassing during a photo op, can the UN review Inner City Press' accreditation?

Your letter unless and until retracted means that publications which even link to audio that one participant in which is embarrassed of can have their accreditations reviewed: for example, if a UN official participating in a meeting on the 38th floor recorded it and, being disgusted by the UN's actions or inaction leaked it to the press, the press could be reviewed for publishing their audio recorded “without consent.”

This is, again, obviously contrary to, for example, the US First Amendment, but also numerous UN-claimed principles of freedom of the press and due process.

The outstanding request, to MALU, USG Smale, SG Guterres and DSG Mohammed, that Inner City Press resident corresponent access and work space S-303 which was wrongful taken without hearing or appeal 20 months ago as I pursued the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery scandal which resulted this summer in six guilty verdicts, is below and incorporated herein by reference and I insist on a response to my two letters to then-new USG Smale in September. I was told there is an awareness of the need to show Inner City Press the “courtesy” of a response, but there has still been none, until the October 20 accreditation threat was the response.

The UN should care about, and not seek to hinder, reporting on for example the killings in Cameroon and even UN corruption. Threats of censorship are not the way to accomplish this. Inner City Press should be restored to its resident correspondent accreditation and shared workspace S-303, both of which were taken 20 months ago in retaliation for covering UN corruption in connection with Ng Lap Seng and, if there is some problem in your view with reporting and broadcasting what UN officials say, rules should be proposed that do not so blatantly violate the very principles of freedom of the press that the UN preaches to others. Inner City Press is more than willing to work in this regard."  So where is that, in Smale's hit job lifetime ban letter? To simply recite complaints, by your own deputy, while ignored the detailed responses that were filed at the time shows bad faith. Smale's letter must be reversed - and more. Watch this site.
Inner City Press had informed Smale, and Secretary General Antonio Guterres who is ultimately responsible for this, that Smale must recuse herself.

As part of its coverage of the UN in the past year I have heard from whistleblowers in Smale's Department of Public Information that she diverted funds intended for Swahili programming to her avowed focused, getting better coverage for Guterres particularly on social media.

But Smale did not recuse herself, and Guterres who refused my polite question to him on July 20 why this censorship was taking place and why he had been so silent as Cameroon killed Anglophones in the North-West and South-West regions of the country, did not make her recuse. Nor did he recuse himself, despite my timely request that the President of the General Assembly, and not the obviously conflicted Guterres and Smale, take charge of any review deemed necessary.

What is most troubling about the UN's August 17 dis-accreditation letter is how vague it is, and inaccurate the few times it gets specific.

The UN claims that on 3 July 2018 I “attempted to gain unauthorized access to a locked area of the UN.” But as I reported at the the time, and my Periscope video subsequently used by Fox News and The UK Independent shows, I was in the UN's much traveled Vienna Cafe. (Guterres' Assistant Secretary General Christian Saunders, whose involvement in a UN procurement scandal I previously reported, was also there: he oversaw the assault and the next day told me he doesn't like my articles.)

  On July 3 I was staking out -- that is, standing outside of - the UN Budget Committee meetings. In fact, I had been informed of the meetings by UN personnel and diplomats had invited me down in order to tell me, as a reported, what was going on.

Ironically it was with Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe that I had just spoken when UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins and another officer who had still been identified by the UN approached me from behind, grabbed and twisted my arm, grabbed and damaged my laptop computer and tore my shirt. I recoiled and said, loudly, “I am a journalist, covering a meeting!” To Smale, this is incivility, enough to be permanently banned from the UN for.

Next, at the top of page 3 of the letter, Smale runs through a litany of supposed violations without providing any details, nor acknowledging that other correspondents more friendly to Guterres and her are allowed to do these things routinely. Smale pillories my “presence on UN premises outside authorized time periods as stipulated in the Guidelines.”

But those Guidelines, even as selectively quoted by Smale at the top of page 2 of her letter, make clear that I was permitted past 7 pm to cover an advised meeting - such as the July 3 UN Budget Committee meeting considering a $6.7 billion expenditure of public funds or the June 22 event in the UN General Assembly lobby featuring a speech in which Guterres bragged about fasting in Mali.

On June 22, not mentioned in Smale's August 17 letter but alleged as a “repeat violation” by Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq in a July 5 article, the same Lieutenant Dobbins and four Emergency Response Unit officers he summoned and then told not to give their names, pushed me out of the UN even as other non resident correspondents were allowed to remain in. There is video, here.

Days before that first roughing up of Inner City Press by UN Security but clearly green-lighted from higher up, Guterres' lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a person who tried to speak with him on my behalf to get the UN to stop requiring me to have a minder or escort as they have since February 2016 that things would be getting worse for me. It seems clear Dujarric knew about or had already ordered the physical targeting of Inner City Press any time after 7 pm, even if an advised meeting or Guterres speech was taking place.

But a telling omission in Smale's letter is that as recently as June 26 dozens of non resident correspondents were allowed to stay in the UN past 7 pm drinking with Guterres on the North Lawn, ghoulishly in the name of press freedom with Smale. The event was not advised in the UN Media Alert, and I know that UN Security could not have been given a list of approved non resident correspondents since my timely RSVP to cover the event which had yet another canned Guterres speech was never answered. I was told by the organizer of that pro-Guterres event that the RSVP was ignored because it was open to all correspondents. Again, there is video in my contemporaneous coverage. Maybe this is why Smale and Guterres - and Dujarric - say livestreaming is a problem to be solved with Security violence and banning.

Since as Smale says there are thousands of those, many of whom write few articles and ask fewer questions, there is no way UN Security had a list of non resident correspondent to NOT beat up after 7 pm. They just decided / were told to start roughing up critical Inner City Press, sometime between June 22 until the July 3 assault which I reported on July 4 to the NYPD and was told, while a report was taken, that the UN asserts immunity. (That's the problem.)

Next Smale asserts I have been in locations not authorized by the Guidelines - without giving a single example. This does not comply with due process, to put it mildly. One wonder how it took the UN 45 days to write this (except for the desire to slow-walk things to try to prevent Inner City Press from covering the UN General Assembly in September). Even at censorship, today's UN is incompetent, particularly given the public money it requests and spends (that $6.7 billion again).

It is the “live broadcasts” -- reporting and commentary subject to protection under the First Amendment of the US Constitution and UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 - that Smale next takes issue with. She cites, again without any example, profanities and derogatory assertions.

But Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric repeatedly used profanity, specifically the F-word, in the briefing room including telling me, “Matthew that's a stupid f*cking question.” Even more dispositively a former president of the UN Correspondents Association, Giampaoli Pioli who had ordered me to remove from the Internet an article about him arranging a UN screening for the Sri Lanka Ambassador of a film denying his country's war crimes after having had the Ambassador as his paying tenant in one of his many Manhattan apartment - the reason I quit UNCA - once called me an “assh*le” at the UN Security Council stakeout, during an advised meeting.

It happened at the Security Council stakeout so it was recorded, audio here. But DPI did nothing about this profanity and “derogatory assertion” by the president of UNCA, become their UN Censorship Alliance. So there is no rule, less enough of one to ban me for life.

There is another vague reference to refusing to obey UN Security officers, impossible to respond to and troubling in light of the video of Lt Dobbins and his colleague pulling me, and tearing my shirt. Is one not allowed to say, “I am a journalist?” What would Smale do?

  What Smale does NOT do is public financial disclosure. As Inner City Press first reported, and asked Dujarric to explain without getting any answer, Smale is not listed in Guterres' online roster of public financial disclosures, unlike for example official Natalia Gherman, who was awarded her UN post after Smale. There is still no disclosure as of 29 March 2019.

Most Orwellian, halfway through page 3 Smale attempts to use questions I have had to ask at the UN Delegates Entrance since she and Guterres banned me from the UN Security Council stakeout from July 3 on. At that new stakeout, I have interviewed among others outgoing Human Rights Commissioner Prince Zeid (whose abuse of whistleblowers I have also reported) and Permanent Representatives such as those from Kazakhstan and even Burundi. So which unnamed member states is Smale claiming have complained to her and Guterres: Cameroon? The United Kingdom? France? Morocco? Smale has yet to answer.



Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office, past & future?: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA
For now UNder Guterres: UN Delegates Entrance Gate
and mail: Dag H. Center Box 20047, NY NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

 Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2019 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for