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After Ban Ki-moon Is Quoted on Snowden “Misuse,” UN Claims It Was In Private Meeting: Double Speak?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 5 -- Of the US surveillance exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said “surveillance regimes adopted by some states without adequate safeguards are... counterproductive."

  But UN Secretary General has been quoted, in a meeting with members of parliament in Iceland, as saying that "the Snowden case is something I consider to be misuse” and that the opening up of digital communications should not be "misused in such a way as Snowden did.”

  In the UN on July 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq to explain Ban's comments. If the UN system views surveillance without safeguards as negative, how could its exposure be, as Ban said, a “misuse”?

  Haq twice refused to even confirm that is what Ban said, insisting it was said in a “private” meeting. Video here, from Minute 6:49.

  It was a meeting with multiple elected officials of a state which speaks much about transparency. Can Ban gag those he met with? According to the Guardian, the quote is in notes taken by two attendees and confirmed by a third.

  But this is Ban's UN -- he similarly stepped back from things said on Capitol Hill; UN system whistleblowers complain of retaliation and a lack of protections.

 While Haq went on to read out statements on freedom of speech, in Ban's UN just this early summer, Inner City Press has been threatened with suspension or withdrawal of accreditation for hanging a single sign on its door for the Free UN Coalition for Access, which advocates on just these issues.

  Accreditation officials have demanded “urgent” explanation of tweets, and have tried to tell Inner City Press how to cover Ban and his head of peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous.

  It is in this context that Inner City Press believes the Iceland parliamentarians. The ball would seem to be in Ban's court to explain what he meant that information should not be "misused in such a way as Snowden did.” Really? Watch this site.

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