Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Home -

Follow us on TWITTER

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


ICP on YouTube

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

From UN Kangaroo Court, Letter Leaked to Diplomats, Press' Public Reply

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 15 -- Media coverage of the UN is dying: there were only three journalists beyond Inner City Press asking questions at the June 15 UN noon briefing. Video here.

 And some in the UN Correspondents Association are seeking to speed the process, even helping get the Press targeted for death. Below since not allowed on the UNCA e-amil list serve is Inner City Press' response.

  When made aware that threats to "swim like a brick" have been triggered by an UNCA "Board of Examination" to investigate Inner City Press, requested by five big media members of the UNCA Executive Committee - from Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP, Voice of America and Al-Arabiya -- UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli's response was to try to use the threats.

  Pioli told Inner City Press that the Board of Examination, whose chairman he chose despite the conflicts of interest summarized here, would only be called off if Inner City Press resigned and issued a blanket "apology" for a factual Press report that he rented his apartment to Palitha Kohona, now Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN, and screened his government propaganda film denying war crimes.

  On June 14 just before the UN noon briefing, Pioli sent Inner City Press a draft letter he proposed to vote on at 1 pm and then send to all UNCA members.

  Inner City Press even at fast glance disagreed with the letter, just as it had disagreed in detail with draft minutes of meetings, which omitted Inner City Press' demand to to be informed of the charges and witnesses against it.

  At the 1 pm meeting, Inner City Press informed the assembled UNCA Executive Committee members that the letter was sure to spread beyond the UNCA membership, and would trigger more threats.

   But Inner City Press was not allowed to send a response to the letter on the UNCA e-mail list serve, and the letter went out.

On June 15, multiple diplomats and other non-UNCA members told Inner City Press they had seen the letter and were surprised by it. Several asked, "Have you responded?"

  Given the above, and several UNCA Executive Committee members' justification  of banning Inner City Press from the UNCA list serve by saying, "you've got your blog," here it is:

You might well be getting tired of hearing about the UNCA Executive Committee's issues with Inner City Press. But I know you've all received a fresh email from the other board members; I asked to be able to respond on "their" same UNCA NEWS list, but this was rejected. So I'd just like to address some of the most damaging allegations in their e-mail, as best as I can.

The UNCA Executive Committee letter says that I have attacked, intimidated, and threatened my colleagues. This is not true. I have apologized several times to the Giampaolo Pioli appointed member of the Board of Examiners who resigned; I regret very much that she felt attacked. She said she is a twenty year friend of Pioli, which is fine: but it seems obvious she cannot then be my judge in a proceeding brought against me by her long time friend.

I think part of the problem is that this examination process is inherently upsetting. Again, I never meant to upset my colleague; what I have tried to do is point out conflicts of interest that make certain people inappropriate to serve as examiners, in much the way that lawyers point out unsuitable jurors. I have written about this on Inner City Press because I believe a trial, particularly an unprecedented show trial or kangaroo court of censorship such as this, at the UN is newsworthy -- and because I was denied access to the UNCA NEWS e-mail list.

I've tried, repeatedly, to clear up some people's misunderstanding around my reporting on Giampaolo Pioli. He rented his apartment to Palitha Kohona, a person he was purportedly covering objectively, when Kohona was an official in the UN Office of Legal Affairs. Later, after Kohona became Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN, Pioli did not recuse himself from deciding, and in fact never formally asked me as an elected UNCA Executive Committee member, if Kohona's request to screen inside the UN a government propaganda film purporting to rebut a UK Channel 4 documentary depicting war crimes in the killing of 40,000 civilians in Sri Lanka in 2009.

When Piolo and then UNCA's Executive Committee demanded an apology from me for this factual reporting, I proposed a nuanced statement trying to accommodate Pioli. However, Pioli refused to accept anything but a blanket retraction. I continue to believe that their past financial relationship is newsworthy, and I cannot simply wish it away. It would be reported in many, even most reputable newspapers covering war crimes and access to the UN. I will not, now cannot, accept censorship of it.

I have been receiving threats, which I initially informed Pioli and UNCA's Executive Committee about until I saw they were using these as leverage against me to extract a blanket apology or resignation. Now in the face of the threats, I cannot pull back: it would call into question my reporting on Sri Lanka and similar issues, and would in fact just lead to more threats.

For this, please read [which] concludes:

"As for the UNCA, their role is to stand up for its members, not to expel them and we can see no justification for the continuation of this 'Board of Examination.' Both the UNCA and the UN have played straight into the hands of the Government of Sri Lanka's attempts to silence its critics."

I ask you: who is bringing UNCA down? I think part of the problem here is that UNCA really has no business interfering with what any of us write. UNCA Executive Committee members may not like my coverage -- but they have no right to try to censor my writing and, frankly, I think it's outrageous that they've tried, particularly since as noted several of them have made unauthorized uncredited use of exclusive stories I have broken, from cocaine in the UN mail room in January 2012, the fight between Turkish and UN Security in September 2011, and my March 28 exclusive that US official Jeffrey Feltman will come to head the UN Department of Political Affairs.

I have asked to be shown the list of charges against me, and to be informed of how this "Board of Examination" proceeds. I have submitted lists of questions to be examined, beyond the intended and inappropriate UNCA probe into my sources, but these have been ignored. It seems to me the fix is in, but if you have read down this far, I ask you to look into it, and even if Pioli et al. try to set up a General Meeting on short notice -- even if the notice they give is short, I ask that you attend. These people, I believe, are not only putting me at risk: they are destroying UNCA.

   Even before this most recent turn of the screw in the kangaroo court of the UNCA Executive Committee, a senior UN official told Inner City Press on the night of June 12 that he no longer thought the UN should have an agreement with UNCA, "given what they're up to."  We'll see.

Share |

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

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

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-253, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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 2006-2012 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]