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In Kenya Ban Ki-moon's Son in Law Sid Chatterjee Calls Rosewood Fraud Qs Fake News, Blocks Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 10 – The United Nations does some good work but is increasingly a platform for unaccountable self-styled thinkers who got their well compensated positions through murky processes including nepotism and are entirely comfortable restricting and even evicting their critics while, of course, they blather about freedom of the press and purport to fight corruption. This is happening at the very top of UN headquarters as Inner City Press has been covering of late - but it is once again on display in Kenya, host to the UN's regional UNON office. There the UN Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee, who was given the job without recusal by his father in law Ban Ki-moon, was notably silent as an election was reversed and opposition and civilians killed and detained. (Now the NASA coalition has postponed its December 12 event. What did Sid so during Kenya's detention of David Ndii - as little as the UN is doing for Patrice Nganang in Cameroon?) Or perhaps Sid did Chat - he blocks Inner City Press on Twitter, and has recently knee-jerk and conveniently come to the defense of UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed, claiming that the questions about her signing 4000 rosewood certificates for murky export to China from Nigeria and reportedly Cameroon, unanswered even to the UN CITES meeting in Geneva in late November, is “fake news.” In his view, the 95,000 people petitioning the UN to investigate Mohammed are deluded and to be blocked. This from a UN Resident Coordinator who threatened legal action again, or in the alternative a job for, an Indian journalist who picked up Inner City Press initial reports of Chatterjee's nepotistic rise through the UN system. Why did Staffan de Mistura name Sid his chief of staff in Iraq, and threaten those who commented on it?  Then UNOPS? Why have the questions about the specifics of Siddharth Chatterjee's much use time during a bloody military campaign (including the killing of civilians) in Sri Lanka yet to be answered? Sid's pattern of threats and finding proxy defenders has now spread to the 38th floor of the UN. And "Social Media" Sid's practice of blocking critics on Twitter spread to the Resident Coordinator in Cameroon - who reversed and disavowed it - and to the the UN's Yemen Envoy and also to the UN Department of Public Information's perennial Number Two. How far into scandal and lack of transparency has today's UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed fallen? Now while Guterres has decided not to hold any end of year press conference, Guterres on December 8 held a by invitation only session with some media from Japan, where he intends amid world crises and his own administration's scandal to visit for a relatively obscure health conference, only for money. See here, saying Guterres met with Japanese media on December 8 prior to his trip. Guterres had no news; it was only about the money, as he proved on November 21 when his UN used $1 million from China Energy Fund Committee even after the indictment for bribery of CEFC's Patrick Ho. But will Guterres' promiscuous sycophantry, between Japan and China, get him caught? He's counting on the sycophants who will "honor" him on December 15 on Wall Street, charging $1200 a table to see him. We'll have more on this. Also, now Guterres' swearing-in ceremonies, which had been open to the press and public under him and his predecessor Ban Ki-moon are no longer listed in the UN Department of Public Information's Media Alert, and Press questions about whether this was an oversight (to escape oversight) or for an explanation go unanswered. This as the Guterres and his DPI chief Alison Smale, set to belatedly be sworn in on December 6, ignored the calls of thousands as an environmental and corruption matter to investigate Amina Mohammed's UNanswered scandal of mass-signing certificates for endangered rosewood already shipped to China and as a media freedom matter to stop subjecting the Press which pursue UN corruption stories to more restrictions than other, some no-show, outlets. Smale has been on the job, or in the UN, since September. She has yet to respond to four separate inquiries despite in October saying she recognized the need to show the courtesy of a response. (Two days later her DPI issued a new threat to Inner City Press' accreditation). Guterres has yet to take questions on why his UN used $1 million from China Energy Fund Committee even after CEFC chief Patrick Ho was indicted for bribery in the UN. Amina Mohammed has refused to answer Press rosewood questions. Meanwhile Guterres is trying to sell purported reforms, for recently in a December 4 session of the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee. On December 5, after Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric dodged Inner City Press' questions about the session, the UN Department of Public Information's Media Alert for December 6 did not provide notice of or access for Guterres' belated swearing in of his censor in chief at DPI, Alison Smale. Photos here. Amina Mohammed is also, according to her oft-empty schedule, supposed to be at the swearing in, perhaps further explaining the decision to close it to the press. Inner City Press immediately wrote to the UNresponsive Smale and Guterres, and MALU, with this: "Hello. The UN MALU Media Alert for December 6 has just been e-mailed out at 8:12 pm and Inner City Press has a question that it needs answered: SG Guterres' schedule for Dec 6 lists the swearing in of three senior officials including DPI's Alison Smale for 9:45 am. But DPI's Media Alert lists its first event at 10 am. Until now, swearings-in of USG have always been public, open to independent Press and in the Media Alert. Was this a mistake by DPI, or is there now even less transparency in this, as in other matters, by the UN? Inner City Press and FUNCA need to know now, to plan arrival at MALU at 9:15 am for the 9:45 am swearing in. This also informs you, as Maher Nasser was informed on the record in August, that the no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom assigned Inner City Press' long time shared work space S-303 has not come in in weeks, and has asked a single question in two years. Reversal is required." The absence continued on December 8, during the Jerusalem meeting co-requested by Egypt. On December 8, Inner City Press asked Dujarric to explain, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: In the past, events in which the Secretary-General, including the previous one and even this one, has sworn in officials, to swear in their allegiance to the global public have always been open press.  Now they are not.  So I wanted to know, I came in earlier for the one with Alison [Smale] and two others and was told it’s closed; but I just wanted to know, given particularly the purpose of the ceremonies, not just a handshake it’s actually a… what is the reasoning behind it? Spokesman: I think we are making some adjustments, and obviously there was the UN photographers there, UN TV, so that material is available to everybody.  Thank you." This transcript cut out Inner City Press audibly saying, Why go toward being less transparent? to which Dujarric claimed it's translucent. Inner City Press said and says, murky and opaque.  Note for example that when Guterres swore in Mohammed, it was open press, Inner City Press covered and live streamed it and there have been follow up questions about the cost and composition of the delegation. Now, they try to close the historically open swearing-in ceremonies to the press: this is today's UN. Watch this site. The UN has dodged Press questions for a month about UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed signing thousands of certificates for rosewood already exported from Nigeria and it seems Cameroon to China, just before she took up her UN position. Most recently, after UN correspondents who tried to help her evade the questions declared she is being "vilified," the CITES meeting in Geneva declined China's open and Nigeria's more stealth lobbying to close the case, and issued a decision that "With regard to trade in specimens of Pterocarpus erinaceus: b) Parties should not accept any CITES permit or certificate for Pterocarpus erinaceus issued by Nigeria unless its authenticity has been confirmed by the Secretariat, noting that China and Nigeria
have existing CITES document exchanging mechanism to verify the authenticity of all CITES permits and certificates for Pterocarpus erinaceus issued by Nigeria. c) Range States and importing countries should pay particular attention to trade in Pterocarpus erinaceus to ensure that trade in this species only takes place when Parties are satisfied that it is in line with the requirements of the Convention. d) The Standing Committee welcomed the invitation by the Government of Nigeria to conduct a
technical mission to Nigeria and invited the Secretariat to provide any relevant information on compliance with the Convention related to trade in Pterocarpus erinaceus to the Standing
Committee." This scandal will no go away, even if as some predict Mohammed does. Watch this site. The UN becomes less transparent by the day. For more than two weeks UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric had dodged and refused questions from Inner City Press about Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed signing 4,000 certificates for rosewood illegal logged in Cameroon and parts of Nigeria and already in China. Now in the absence of answers a cursory review of the UN's so-called "public disclosure" website finds that Amina Mohammed nine months into her tenure as Deputy SG has not filed any disclosure: she is not even listed. This stands in contrast, for example, to the UN's envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto, who signed his Public Disclosure form on October 23, 2017 (Residential property, joint ownership, Japan; Mortgage, Mitsui Sumitomo Bank, Japan) and another of the few Japanese UN high officials,  Izumi Nakamitsu who signed her Public Disclosure form on January 18, 2017 (Two residential properties, joint ownership, Sweden; Mortgage, Handelsbanken, jointly held, Sweden). In other murky news, after Secretary General Antonio Guterres went to Lisbon for four days (while spokesman Dujarric refused Press requests to disclosure the cost of that trip, like Amina Mohammed's to Cape Town), he will soon travel to Japan, for a merely regional health conference. We'll have more on this. As to Mohammed, the export to China of illegally harvested rosewood, reported on by Le Monde on November 3 with reference to UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed who signed the certificates, also involves "smuggling from Cameroon." See EIA video, here. This may put a new light on the UN's inaction on the Cameroonian government's killings and Internet cut off in the Anglophone zones. Cameroon's Ambassador to the UN, while saying he'd call upstairs to ensure Inner City Press couldn't go there any more (the UN's Department of Public Information did threaten Inner City Press' accreditation for Periscope broadcasting in connection with photo ops on the 38th floor), also bragged that the DSG's opposition to separatism in Biafra led to the same position on Cameroon. And just as UN envoy Chambas went and preached One Nigeria, failing UN envoy Francois Fall called Southern Cameroons secessionists "extremists," on DPI's UN Radio no less. They say in journalism, Follow the Money. But in this case it may be, Follow the Rosewood, or Kosso.  In terms of money: Joe Biden appeared at the UN on November 3, and tables were sold for up to $50,000. One might think, after the proved corruption of the UN in the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe trial for events in this same Delegates Dining Room, charging this kind of money for sitting with  a “senior UN official” would be a thing of the past. Or after Antonio Guterres was questioned after taking a golden statue from Paul Biya, the 35-year rules of Cameroon. But no. On November 6, Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed appeared, took an award and gave a speech at an event in Washington for which $25,000 sponsorships were offered, here, by a publication which covers and is promoted by the UN (while following up on November 9 on Le Monde's November 3 story, no mention of Cameroon.) On November 9, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press; as you know or you or Farhan [Haq] had said, she just recently received the Diplomat of the Year Award from Foreign Policy down in DC. Was she aware of this story being in preparation when she accepted the award? Often, to receive the award, you have to be present.  How long were the discussions? Spokesman:  I think some of those questions should be addressed to Foreign Policy.  She was fully aware that the story was going to come out when she received the award." No Cameroon. Ban Ki-moon allowed the corruption of Ng Lap Seng, and Antonio Guterres has done thing to reverse it. In fact, Guterres left through the same door Biden came in, one hour before, using public funds to fly to his home in Lisbon, using a 15 minutes speech there on Monday to justify a three day UN paid junket. And his spokesman refused to answer questions, even about his one on one lunches on the 38th floor, where Inner City Press' use of Periscope during photo ops has allowed Guterres' DPI under Alison Smale to threaten its accreditation. All of this takes place while Guterres covers up mass killing in Cameroon, and is prepared to be sold himself, on Wall Street no less. We'll have more on this. On November 2, Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that "on Monday, the Secretary-General will be in Lisbon to participate in the Web Summit 2017, which brings together the leaders of key Internet companies with officials from different Governments.  You are aware of the attention the Secretary-General has been devoting to the uses of the Internet." Really? Guterres was silent for example when Cameroon cut off the Internet for 94 days this year; his Department of Public Information has threatened Inner City Press' accreditation for unspecified violation by live-streaming a Guterres photo op using Twitter's Periscope platform. But why did Guterres take this speaking gig, which it turns out is for only 15 minutes at 7:25 pm on the evening of Monday, November 6? Inner City Press asked Dujarric, who refused to state with whom Guterres had a formal lunch meeting in the UN dining room with UN funds on November 3, where Guterres will be on Saturday and Sunday. Dujarric replied: "sg will be in lisbon over the weekend." It sure seems like that's why he took the Lisbon speaking gig. And in fact, even before 5 pm on Friday, November 3, Guterres left the UN with bodyguards, in a three-car convoy. Who is paying for all this? On October 27, after Guterres' spokespeople stonewalled Inner City Press for three days on his plans for a grip and grin meeting in a Cameroon airport with Paul Biya, who has killed hundreds this year as well as cutting the Internet Guterres loves so much, they also refused to say how Guterres personal, or shall we say Lisbon-focused, travel is paid for, and how much it costs. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: If he goes to Lisbon, Portugal, does he take UN security with him?  In which case, where do they stay, and what are the costs?  How are they borne? Deputy Spokesman:  However he does his stopovers, he does it at the least cost to the UN.  And a lot of times, what that means is traveling with a smaller delegation, and it also means traveling on commercial flights.  He does take specific steps, and he's been very conscientious over these months of making sure that he travels with as slim a delegation as he has. Inner City Press: My question is just who's paying for his security if he goes to Lisbon?  And also I'm aware that he sent some people in advance to CAR.  They didn't travel with him, but they were actually part of the party.  So is there an attempt to bifurcate traveling trips so that some people are not considered to be traveling with him.  For example, the UN photographer, I'm aware, went days in advance.  Why was that?
Deputy Spokesman:  Well, sometimes advance teams go out when it's needed to do that.  For us, in terms of the Department of Public Information, there are many times when it's useful for us to send our media crews in advance to get different coverage for the sort of pieces and features that they do.  Inner City Press: Can we just get the cost?  It's a straight transparency question. Deputy Spokesman:  The costs of travel are calculated over the year and shared with the Member States, and that's how we do it.  All right.  Have a good weekend, everyone." Antonio sure will - on the public dime. Back on July 29, the day after guilty verdicts on six counts of UN bribery in the case of Ng Lap Seng, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres flew to Split for a seven day vacation on the Dalmatian islands, according to sources there. Guterres' spokespeople did not disclose the travel or any week-long absence to the press covering the UN, at least not to the Press evicted and still restricted for covering Ng's bribery. This lack of transparency stands in contrast to the executive branch in Washington and even New York routinely disclosing travel including vacation travel. But the UN has no press protections either - Guterres has been asked. Meanwhile his spokespeople says the UN should get paid for the UNreformed corruption shown in the Ng trial and verdict. We'll have more on this. When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 27 had a brief meeting with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar state media and other UN based photographers went up. Alamy photos here. There were complaints how short the handshake was; Inner City Press noted that on the UN side of the table were only four people, all men, including Jeffrey Feltman. Periscope video here. Guterres was scheduled to be at another meeting in 25 minutes time. So will the UN help solve the stand-off in the Gulf? It seems unlikely. The UN never answered Inner City Press' questions of if Feltman had visited Saudi Arabia and if not, why not. Back on July 19 Guterres.had a meeting and photo op with Spain's Foreign Minister Alfonso María Dastis Quecedo. Inner City Press went to cover it, Alamy photos here, Periscope video here including of whether Dastis should write "una poema" in the UN visitors' book. Inner City Press barely arriving on time due to the crowd of tourists at the UN's visitors entrance. It has been this way since Spain's now-gone Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach had Inner City Press evicted from and still restricted at the UN after Inner City Press asked her about attending indicted Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's South South Awards, and allowing Ng fundees improper events in the UN. Although Guterres did not continue Gallach's contract - she lobbied to stay, but failed - her negative impacts are still in evidence. The Spanish Mission to the UN, now off the Security Council, likewise did nothing to reign Gallach in. But surely they are lobbying Guterres to get another Under Secretary General position, even as their Fernando Arias Gonzalez runs against six others to head the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We'll have more on this. The day before on July 18 Guterres had a meeting and photo op with the Dominican Republic's Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado (Alamy photos here, Periscope video here); it came one day after in the UN bribery case against Ng Lap Seng a video of then
then-President Leonel Fernandez Reyna visiting South South News near the UN was discussed. That video is here. South South News was a bribery conduit, its funds used for gambling by Dominican Deputy Permanent Representative Francis Lorenzo in Las Vegas and Atlantic City while the UN's Department of Public Information let SSN's content into UNTV archives and let Ng fundees have impermissible events in the UN. On July 18, Guterres' Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq refused to answer Inner City Press' yes or no questions about South South News and the UN. After the July 18 photo op, Inner City Press had nowhere to edit - for seeking to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room in pursuing the UN / SSN corruption story, Inner City Press was evicted and still restricted. The 38th floor apparently loves it. On July 10 Guterres has a photo op with Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar. It was supposed to be in his office in UN Headquarters at 4:30 pm. But on little notice he moved it to his - make that, the UN and the public's - mansion on Sutton Place and 57th Street, at 4 pm. Inner City Press jumped on the city bus up First Avenue, broadcasting a Periscope video about the change, when suddenly it was urged to stop broadcasting by a board member of the UN Correspondents Association, which Guterres' deputy spoke before last week and whose former president Giampaolo Pioli's Hampton's gratiuty-fest the UN acting head of Public Information Maher Nasser attended, the UN Censorship Alliance. This is today's UN. Still, up on Sutton Place UN Security brought up a sniffing dog in a UN 4x4, and two quick photos were allowed before Guterres escorted Holguin onto "his" elevator.  Back at the UN, the door to the UN Security Council stakeout was locked, and the turnstile where targeting Inner City Press' ID pass no longer works was guarded by new UN Security who didn't even recognize the UN minder. Still, we got this Periscope, despite UN censorship which continues. 


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