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UN Bans ICP from Premises, UNCA Serves Dujarric a Set-Up Q, As If OK

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 -- After Inner City Press was summarily ejected from the UN, which it has covered for ten years, on February 19, the ostensibly deciding official Cristina Gallach told no less than Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta that Inner City Press would still be able to cover the UN.

  But when Inner City Press came to the UN on Monday morning, with another journalist there to sign Inner City Press in as a guest, UN Security said, “You are Banned from the UN.”  Audio here.

  Inner City Press left the UN pass office, and set up shop in the Isaiah plowshares park across from the UN. Several Permanent Representatives, at least two Under Secretaries General (the same rank as Gallach) and many staff came to express outrage at the UN's censorship.

 But in the UN Press Briefing Room, which was "lent" to the UN Correspondents (or Corruption) Association back on January 29, the reaction was different.

 In an embarrassing colloquy, long time UNCA board member Masood Haider asked Spokesman Dujarric about "the blogger Matthew Lee" who has been "spewing on the Internet reports whether false or not." Video here, from Minute 27:27.

  Bloggers are, of course, hacked to death in Bangladesh, a country on whose free press record USG Gallach never even replied to a detailed email from the Free UN Coalition for Access, for protection for a Bangladeshi journalist then in the UN. Spewing indeed.

 Dujarric took the opportunity to deny that the UN had seized Inner City Press' files -- the reality is, when Inner City Press asked on February 19 to take the most important of them, and its passport, it was denied by UN Security. On February 22, UN Security said Inner City Press is Banned from all UN premises.

  Dujarric said, as if it's ok, that Inner City Press is being "offered" much reduced access, for four months. But Inner City Press did nothing wrong, and the "investigation" by Gallach which led to its ouster did not involve a single conversation with or reaching out to Inner City Press.

  Any reduced access to loss of office space -- which Masood Haider, who hardly writes articles, has, and UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli has, a private office, while writing about Morgan Freeman -- is unfair and is to cast a chill of freedom of the press. No staged colloquy can hide that. We'll have more on this.

  Later, after being told to leave even the UN Pass office, a UN Under Secretary General told Inner City Press Gallach had told other USGs that Inner City Press was in fact in the building - that AFTER Inner City Press was told by UN Security, twice, that it is banned from all UN premises and was told to leave the UN Pass office.

  Now Gallach, and Ban Ki-moon and his chief of staff Edmond Mulet to whom Inner City Press wrote on February 19, still without response, has received a legal letter with a

"demand that Mr. Lee be immediately reissued with the resident correspondent accreditation that he has enjoyed for many years.  I request these remedies pending an examination of the entire matter by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression or by any other mutually agreed and independent review mechanism.

In reaching the decision to perfunctorily revoke Mr. Lee’s resident correspondent accreditation, a number of accepted principles of natural justice and rules of administrative law were breached. These principles include, inter alia, the right to be informed before the imposition of administrative measures, the right to make representations before being subjected to those measures and the right to appellate review of such measures. Mr. Lee was denied all of these procedural safeguards which are commonplace in most democratic societies and which are routinely
vaunted by the United Nations itself."

 As Inner City Press sits in the park across from the UN using its phone as a hot spot -- hence no Periscope -- there has been no response.

 Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who'd also told those who questioned him that Inner City Press could end and cover “his” briefing on Monday.

  False. UN Security then said, you cannot wait in the pass office, you are banned from all UN premises. Trying to cover the UN Security Council meeting on Syria from the Isaiah plowshares park across from the UN, various Ambassadors came to say they were appalled. But Gallach's office has told then, nothing will be done.

  This is disgusting censorship by an increasingly corrupt UN.

As Inner City Press at the UN pursues unfolding stories of corruption, peacekeepers committing rapes in the Central African Republic, UN inaction in Burundi, South Sudan and Yemen, on February 19 with two hours notice UN Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press to be ousted. Letter here.

   On the evening of February 19, UN Security Deputy Chief Michael McNulty, who refused to provide his name (audio), pushed Inner City Press out onto First Avenue (audio), having cut off its Periscope video livestream (video) and not allowed it to get its files, coat or passport from its longtime shared office. Gallach wants the office back, to retaliate and so the UN Correspondents Association can, in essence, sell the UN space just as it sells access to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  On February 20, Inner City Press posed four questions to Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, with a copy to Gallach --which 24 hours later have not been answered or even acknowledged (while both Dujarric and Gallach were wildly spinning to those who contacted them, including Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos Horta, see here, who was told there was no problem taking over Inner City Press' office and undermining its ability to report, edit videos, conduct interviews. There is a big problem. Here are the questions:

"Please state the status and condition of all of my papers and property in my office, Room S-303A, including investigative papers, communications from sources including whistleblowers and my passport and when I will have the access to them that I was denied on February 19 and since.

Please state when the Resident Correspondent UN pass I have had for years, but which was torn off my neck on Feb 19, will be returned, in connection with 1, above, and the UNSC meeting(s) and UN Noon Briefing on Monday February 22.

Please state and explain the role of the Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary General in the deprivations in 1 and 2, above.

Finally, for now, please state the Secretary-General's position on UN Security Deputy McNulty on February 19 threatening twice to have me “handed over to NYPD” (including the concomitant acceptance by the UN of the NYPD's jurisdiction), of UN Security officers grabbing my phone which was live-broadcasting Periscope video at the UN Security Council stakeout and turning it off.

I have other questions but these are most pressing, for immediate answer."

  And as yet, 42 hours later, no answer. Watch this site.

  While Inner City Press was writing up a UN Security Council meeting on Syria that went into the evening, and Periscope broadcasting, UN Security guards walked up, grabbed Inner City Press' laptop, blocked its Periscope camera and turned off the livestream. Video here.

  Then eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty tore off Inner City Press' UN ID badge and carted off Inner City Press' laptop and camera, returning these by throwing them on the sidewalk of First Avenue. Audio here.

 They did not allow Inner City Press to get coat or sweater, or the files in its office. No provision was made for this.

  The ejection letter was signed by the Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Galach of Spain but ultimately Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in charge. Ban and his chief of staff Edmond Mulet and Deputy SG Jan Eliasson were all written to with details as this took place.

  USG Gallach's office, Darrin Farrant in charge, merely "took note" of questions about and criticism of the lack of due process. Gallach did not respond to email, even from Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, here.

  When Inner City Press was thrown out onto First Avenue, standing waiting, laughing and filming, was Voice of America's Margaret Besheer and another board member of the UN Correspondents Association, whose president Giampaoli Pioli told Inner City Press if it didn't remove a (truthful) article about his screening of a war crimes denial film for a tenant of his, Sri Lanka's then ambassador Palitha Kohona, he would get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.

  But who is running this asylum? Ban Ki-moon, his spokesman also involved Stephane Dujarric (who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29, also trying to turn off ICP's Periscoping phone), and, some surmise, some who don't like Inner City Press' questions. We'll have more on this.

  The pretext was Inner City Press three weeks earlier seeking to cover a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room by an organization which has taken money from now indicted Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo's South SOuth News, then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban.

(As Inner City Press reported, Gallach attended the South South Awards with Frank Lorenzo, photo here, just before his indictment.  She should have been recused from any decision-making on this.)

  UN Security demanded ICP's pass - and later tore it off.


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