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UN Wouldn't Tell Press Where SG Guterres Was (Portugal), Of Bloomberg, Han & Sachs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 27 – Where was UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres from February 24 to February 26? On February 24 after Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric walked out of the UN Press Briefing Room as Inner City Press was asking a question, Inner City Press asked Dujarric and his deputy in writing, "where is UNSG Guterres right now? In New York? In Lisbon? In flight?"

   Even by February 27, there was no answer to this basic question, which is asked routinely of leaders of the US President (when he stepped out to dinner in Manhattan, or golfing) and previously of Michael Bloomberg when he would "disappear" to the Caribbean on the weekends, the media complained. Inner City Press asks it with all due respect regarding Guterres, trying to be constructive. Is the UN so unimportant? Or it is just another double standard in coverage?  And so on February 27, Inner City Press asked Dujarric in person, at the UN noon briefing. From the UN transcript:

 Inner City Press: I… on Friday, I'd asked you, with all due respect, where the Secretary… you know, the Secretary-General… sort of where he was.  And I'd asked it in the context of, like, this is what people that cover the President of the United States, the Mayor of the City of New York, so you didn't answer it.  Do you think it's an illegitimate question or is it just…?

Spokesman:  I didn't say it was an illegitimate question.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  So where was he?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General was in Portugal over the weekend.  He left on Friday and is… went to Geneva Sunday night.

  Was that so difficult? Why wasn't it answered until days later?

Inner City Press has also asked Dujarric and Farhan Haq about Bloomberg and others - still UN officials? We have asked the top three UN spokespeople:

"Beyond the unanswered questions on for example Myanmar and OSCE (the latter reiterated at the noon briefing on February 23), this is a Press question on deadline for you (three) to disclose:

Please state if and when SG Guterres moved into the UN residence on Sutton Place.

Not that it should be necessary, but the question is posed in light of questions about President Trump slipping the pool for a dinner or round of gold, and questions about then NYC Mayor (now UN official) Michael Bloomberg's Caribbean weekends.

By the way, please state whether the following are still UN officials, or when they stopped:

Michael Bloomberg; Jeffrey Sach (this has been asked in noon briefings without answer); Vijay Nambiar; Iqbal Riza; Nicolas Michel; Han Seung Soo... There will be other questions, but these are on deadline."

  We are still after Dujarric called the end of day "lid" on February 27 awaiting answers.

One year ago, covering the UN corruption scandals which have resulted in two sets of indictments for bribery involving the UN, Inner City Press was ordered to leave the UN Press Briefing Room by then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

  Other correspondents were allowed to stay in the briefing room, which Dujarric had "lent" them. But he insisted that Inner City Press leave. Video here.

  Inner City Press asked to see any paperwork that the event was closed; none was provided. Inner City Press stated that if a single UN Security official asked it to leave, it would. Finally one guard came and said Dujarric wanted it to leave.

  Inner City Press immediately left, uploaded the already live-streamed Periscope video, and continued digging into the corruption that's resulted in the indictment for bribery and money laundering of Ban Ki-moon's brother Ban Ki Sang and nephew Dennis Bahn.

  But three weeks afterward, without a single conversation or opportunity to be heard, Ban's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press to leave the UN, after ten years, on two hours notice. Order here.

   This was enforced, as Inner City Press worked on its laptop at the UN Security Council stakeout, by eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty, who tore Inner City Press accreditation badge off its chest and said, "Now you are a trespasser." Audio here.

  Inner City Press was marched down the escalator and around the UN traffic circle, without even its coat which was up in its longtime office. It was pushed out of the gate and its laptop, in a bag, was thrown on the sidewalk and damaged.

  The next work day when Inner City Press arranged for a fellow journalist to sign it in as a guest so it could cover the Security Council, UN Security official Matthew Sullivan said it was Banned from UN premises worldwide. Audio here.

   After three days covering the UN from the park in front in the sleet, and articles like this one, Inner City Press re-entered with a "non-resident correspondents" pass - to which it is still, more than eleven months later, confined.

  The then-US Mission under Samantha Power and Isobel Coleman, even petitioned by the DC-based Government Accountability Project, did nothing. Indirectly, a offer was made of an upgraded pass if Inner City Press would agree to a gag order, to which it would not and will not agree.

  There has been no UN opportunity for appeal or reinstatement. After having five boxes of Inner City Press' investigative files thrown on the sidewalk in April, Gallach is giving its office to an Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom which rarely comes in, a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who had yet to ask a single question.

Her only claim is that she was once, decades ago, a president of the United Nations Correspondents Association, the group to which Duajrric "lent" the UN Press Briefing Room, without notice or written record, on January 29, 2016.

 Even as the scope of Ban Ki-moon's corruption is being exposed upon his return to South Korea, here, his successor Antonio Guterres has yet to reverse this year of censorship and no due process. Watch this site.


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