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As Sri Lanka Press Appraises Casa Pioli, Campaign Contributions Raise New Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 10 -- The Sri Lankan government media is having a field day with the proceeding against Inner City Press by the UN Correspondents Association and its president Giampaolo Piolo. The pro government Daily Mirror reports that

"Mr. Lee is on trial not for his attacks on Sri Lanka but for accusing the UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli of 'accepting rent money' [from] Dr. Palitha Kohona, who is Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN when Dr. Kohona was Chief of the UN Treaty Section some eight years ago. He has also accused Mr. Pioli of arranging Dr. Kohona and his team to screen the government's 'Lies Agreed Upon' film at the UN under UNCA auspices without asking other UNCA executive board members about the screening."

  There are two facts that Inner City Press reported, and that Pioli and now his big media Greek chorus demanded be retracted and taken off the internet, or else Inner City Press would be expelled.

   But these were and are legitimate facts to report. The Daily Mirror continues

"Mr. Pioli admitted accepting rent from Dr. Kohona but denied the accusation he was biased in favour of Sri Lanka and while Mr. Pioli demanded the article be removed from Lee’s blog, he had refused calling it censorship. If Mr. Lee is impeached, he would be the first UNCA journalist to be expelled from the association. He has also being critical of Major General Shavendra Silva-the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka at the UN. Mr. Lee has criticized the UN for appointing Major General Silva to the UN Advisory Panel on Peacekeeping."

  Silva is depicted even in Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts report as engaged in war crimes. Sri Lanka's Mission to the UN sent a letter to Pioli denouncing Inner City Press' reporting on Silva.

  Other Missions don't do this, but it appears that the past financial relationship between Permanent Representative Kohona and Pioli leads the Sri Lankans to believe they have an "in" with Pioli's UNCA.

   Ironically, Pioli brags that he doesn't need extra funds. When Inner City Press first challenged him in 2008, he said, "I have a lot of money." Who knew then that some of it came from Sri Lanka's Palitha Kohona.

   These matters are entirely legitimate to be reported on. So is this: public records show Pioli campaign contributions in the US. This too is problematic, or emblematic of Pioli: the editor of the Boston Globe Martin Baron, among many others, opines that "It is simply not appropriate for any journalist to make a campaign contribution."

   How can you cover US politics while making campaign contributions? 

 What are the policies of the Poligrafici Editoriale Group and its Quotidiano Nazionale, La Nazione, Il Resto de Carlino, Il Giorno and The companies' Stefania Dal Rio has been asked, in writing and by phone, still without response. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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