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After UNCA Photos UN Raid, Audio Shows Service to Ladsous, France

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNdisclosed Location, March 20 -- During the UN's March 18 non-consensual search of Inner City Press' office, present and taking photographs was Pamela Falk of CBS, the president of the UN Correspondents Association.

   Right then on March 18, Inner City Press asked repeatedly what Falk of UNCA was doing there, without answer.

  At the March 19 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the search, and Falk's and UNCA's role. Transcript here.

   Nesirky read a statement about the search, claiming that a media other than Inner City Press could somehow give consent for a search of Inner City Press' papers.

  This would never stand up in a US court. He said he was unaware of the UN's written demand to Inner City Press that it take down off YouTube video footage just after the raid, mentioning Falk and UNCA.

  But Nesirky did not in any way answer the question Inner City Press asked about UNCA's role, and UNCA's president taking multiple photographs during the search.

  UNCA spent most of its 2012 meeting trying to get Inner City Press thrown out. In 2013, UNCA “leaders” under Falk have torn down flyers of the new Free UN Coalition for Access and established at least four anonymous social media accounts to try to undermine Inner City Press and others affiliated with FUNCA.

  On February 22, Falk called Inner City Press a “mugger,” said “you call yourself a journalist” and claimed that to write to the big media that control UNCA about their policies “might constitute a crime.” So why was Falk taking those pictures?

  A UK-based journalist on March 19 directly asked Falk and CBS News about her and UNCA's role, without response. Nor, despite Inner City Press' open questions in the March 19 noon briefing and elsewhere, have the members of the UNCA Executive Committee offered any explanation of their president's role in and picture taking during the raid on Inner City Press' office.

  For now, just two examples. Tim Witcher of Agence France Presse, an UNCA Executive Committee member in both 2012 and 2013, has attempted to browbeat Inner City Press about articles it has published not only about Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping, but also France's Permanent Representative to the UN Gerard Araud.

  Click here for audio of Witcher repeatedly asking about an Inner City Press article about Araud and inaction on war crimes in Sri Lanka.

  A long-time UNCA vice president Sylviane Zehil of L'Orient Le Jour, on a day when Ladsous openly refused to answer any question from Inner City Press, about accepting an alleged war criminal from Sri Lanka as a peacekeeping adviser and about his Department bringing cholera to Haiti, told Inner City Press that its questions were a “big no-no.” Audio here.

  Falk's first vice president is Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, which according to documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act from Voice of America supported VOA's request to Stephane Dujarric of the UN to “review” Inner City Press' accreditation to cover the UN.

   On the record, Charbonneau has refused to answer questions about his role, click here for audio of that, while telling Inner City Press “the fundamental problem is your website.”

  Charbonneau also declared that he, and therefore Reuters, had adopted a policy of not giving any credit to Inner City Press for exclusive stories taken, click here for audio of that. How can it be a crime, as Falk claimed in front of Charbonneau, to even ASK Reuters if this is in fact its policy, and if it is acceptable?

  What kind of supposed journalists organization is it, that tries to censor reporters stories and even questions, asks for the dis-accreditation of investigative media, and then ghoulishly photographs a raid on the media's office? Watch this site.

Footnote: FUNCA co-founder Luis Rampelotto has published photographs, the day after the UN raid on Inner City Press' office ostensibly on safety grounds, of what he calls material similar to those which killed more than 200 people in his native Brazil. Click here for that. Can you say, double standards?

From the UN's transcript of its March 19, 2013 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, right after the noon briefing here, my office upstairs was entered without any notification to me, and papers were searched, photographs were taken, and so I am left with the question that I am compelled to ask here: what are the rights of journalists? Also, the President of UNCA (United Nations Correspondents Association) took photographs while this took place. What are the rights of journalists here to be secure in their papers? What was the role of UNCA in taking photographs and what safeguards are in place so that an inspection, even if characterized as something else, of an journalist’s office doesn’t in fact become essentially a raid where I could easily have been contacted, would have granted access? Why did this take place and what safeguards are in place?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Yesterday, a staff member with the Department of Public Information’s Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit visited your office to follow up with you on a question about the timing of the move-back date for the UN press corps to the Secretariat Building. On reaching the office, which was open, the staff member met with the Viet Nam News Agency correspondent who shares the office space with you. The staff member observed that there was a large volume of trash in the office, prompting her to contact Fire and Security personnel owing to serious concerns over potential safety, health and fire hazards. As I understand it, you subsequently disposed of the garbage that had accumulated in your part of the office. And just to answer your other part of the question, as a rule, DPI staff do not enter the offices occupied by correspondents unless there are circumstances necessitating such visits. And just to make it clear that DPI does not have the keys to those offices.

Inner City Press: Thanks a lot, I really appreciate that, I wanted to ask one follow-up. One, I am surprised that the UN Journal and other UN documents, many of which I threw out yesterday, were considered garbage. But my question is this: I have also received an e-mail this morning which asked me to remove from YouTube a video shot in my own office after the raid. When I arrived and found people going through my papers, I turned on the camera very openly, and I am wanting to know, by what right does the UN tell a journalist to remove from YouTube a video shot in their own office of what they perceive to be a search of their papers?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I am not aware of the details of that, and I need to come back to you on that, Matthew.

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