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Even VOA Admits Its Anti-Press Push Was Inappropriate, Used Reuters & AFP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 7 -- The UN Correspondents Association's executive committee including the UN bureau chiefs of Reuters and Agence France Presse helped Voice of America to file a June 20, 2012 request with the UN to "review" the accreditation status of Inner City Press -- and then never deigned to explain themselves.

  But documents now obtained obtained from Voice of America's Broadcast Board of Governors under Freedom of Information Act requests and appeals show that even VOA's boss Richard Lobo, as well as review requester Steve Redisch, had to admit in writing their anti-Press moves were "not appropriate."

   Still the UNCA executive committee persisted, leaving posted on its glassed-in bulletin board its initial May 25 letter of denunciation, going secret with their meetings with the UN, and setting up scam elections. As reported yesterday, this illegitimacy must end, and the new beta FUNCA -- the Free UN Coalition for Access -- aims to do so.

    On August 8 and earlier on December 6, we reported on some of the documents obtained from BBG via FOIA requests and appeals; now we report more.

  On July 29, VOA's David Ensor wrote to Steve Redisch, "The quote from Reuters will definitely help!"

  The reference was to the stealth complaint filed by Reuters bureau chief Louis Charbonneau, based on Inner City Press telling him, "you disgust me."

  Later, Charbonneau on behalf of Reuters said he was willing to submit a letter to get Inner City Press disaccredited. Once VOA's letter was leaked, Charbonneau and outgoing UNCA president Giampaolo Pioli came to ask Inner City Press to withdraw its FOIA request.

   Moments later, the UN official to whom Redish's request was directed met Inner City Press and gave a six month extension of accreditation, along with a written (and separate and different oral) warning.

   Richard Lobo, the head of BBG, ended up having to call the request by Redisch "not appropriate" in an email to the BBG board, one of whose members Dana Perino wrote, "folks - I believe this issue needs addressed in a more robust way."

   BBG and VOA never issued any apology to Inner City Press, or moved to withdraw their "inappropriate" request. Nor did the UNCA executive committee say anything, or explain the documents when Inner City Press sent them three in October.

   Now, we have learned, some on this UNCA Executive Committee seek to have another closed door, otherwise secret meeting with UN officials on December 10. Watch this site.

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

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