By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, November 1 – The UN delivered a threat to Inner City Press to “review” it accreditation on October 20, using as its pretext an undefined violation with Periscope in UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' 38th floor conference room, and publishing audio from a UN stakeout, citing Cameroon. On October 31 at the UN Security Council stakeout, Cameroon's Ambassador approached Inner City Press and issued his own threat. Of the UN's 38th floor, he demanded of Inner City Press, "Who asked you to go to 38? I'm going to call, say for Matthew not to go upstairs. You've started... asking nasty questions." But can Inner City Press publish this threat, meant to hinder or prevent coverage of mass killing and displacement of Anglophones, without the UN's Department of Public Information's censorship machinery moving to review its accreditation, or using it as its rationale for continuing to keep Inner City Press from its long time office, keep it restricted in movement? DPI boss Alison Smale said she saw the need to respond to petitions to restore Inner City Press to its office and normal access - then her Department issued its October 20 threat. Now this. Watch this site - audio here. Be aware: the audio is from Smale's own DPI. This UN has become disgusting. The UN official who signed the letter, when Inner City Press went to ask about the undefined violation of live-streaming Periscope video at a photo op by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, had already left, minutes after sending the threat. What to make of the letter's vague statement, "filming and recording on the 38th floor are limited to official photo opportunities, and recording conversations of others in the room is not permitted. It has been brought to our attention that you breached that rule recently"? It's not only vague as to when, but absurd: once a Periscope is authorized to start streaming, it is impossible to not record someone who speaks loudly at the photo op. This comes two days after Inner City Press asked Guterres about the UN inaction on threatened genocide in Cameroon, and the UN claimed Guterres hadn't heard the 15-second long question. Recently at a photo op, Guterres' adviser on Cameroon Khassim Diagne spoke loudly. Inner City Press later reported, based on sourcing, that Diagne who was previously the representative to Cameroon for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency Guterres ran, speaks in favor of Cameroon's government. Is this letter a response to the reporting? Is it retaliation? Is it intimidation to stop reporting on this threatened genocide? We can't ask the complainant, Maher Nasser: after the threat was delivered, he blocked Inner City Pres on Twitter, here.
It also comes after Alison Smale the head of the Department of Public Information which would “review” Inner City Press' accreditation has ignored three separatepetitions from Inner City Press in the six weeks she has been in the job, urging her to remove restrictions on Inner City Press' reporting which hinder its coverage of the UN's performance in such crises as Yemen, Kenya,Myanmar, and the Central African Republic where Guterres travels next week, with Smale's DPI saying its coverage of the trip will be a test of its public relations ability. But the UN official who triggered the complaint is Maher Nasser, who filled in for Smale before she arrived.
His complaint is that audio of what he said to Inner City Press as it staked out the elevators in the UN lobby openly recording, as it has for example with Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe, here, was similarly published.
A UN “Public Information” official is complaining about an article, and abusing his position to threaten to review Inner City Press' accreditation. The UN has previously been called out for targeting Inner City Press, and for having no rules or due process. But the UN is entirely UNaccountable, impunity on censorship as, bigger picture, on the cholera it brought to Haiti. And, it seems, Antonio Guterres has not reformed or reversed anything. This threat is from an official involved in the last round of retaliation who told Inner City Press on Twitter to be less "negative" about the UN - amid inaction on the mass killing in Cameroon - and who allowed pro-UN hecking of Inner City Press' questions about the cholera the UN brought to Haiti and the Ng Lap Seng /John Ashe UN bribery scandal which resulted in six guilty verdicts. We'll have more on this.