UNITED NATIONS, July 17 – Inner City Press on July 5 was banned from entering the UN, the day after it filed a criminal complaint against UN Security Lieutenant Ronald Dobbins and another for physically removing it from covering the July 3 meeting about the UN's $6.7 billion peacekeeping budget, as witnessed and essentially cheered on by senior UN and British official Christian Saunders, tearing its reporter's shirt, painfully and intentionally twisting his arm and slamming shut and damaging his laptop. Secretary General Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told Fox News that the ban of Inner City Press is pending a “full review of the incident," which by July 9 Haq was calling an altercation - except only UN Security used force, before even talking.
On July 12, The Independent (UK) via its US bureau chief Andrew Buncombe, covered the ongoing ban, reporting that "Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said it was 'ridiculous' to suggest Mr Lee had been treated as he had because UN officials were upset with his coverage. He said many correspondents published stories that were embarrassing to the world body. He said a review had been launched into the manner in which Mr Lee had been removed and his future accreditation." But for the two weeks and counting that Inner City Press has been banned from the UN by Guterres, his chief of Communications Alison Smale has not answered the e-mails or 5000+ petition of Inner City Press; the "investigation" seems either a cover up or an attempt to keep Inner City Press out for as long as possible, even forever. Now Smale, Guterres' chief of staff Maria Luiza Viotti and at least three members of the US Congress have been written to, on July 17, by the DC-based whistleblower protection organization the Government Accountability Project. Here is the letter, on which we will have more: "July 17, 2018
Alison Smale, Under Secretary General for Global Communications
United Nations, New York, New York 10017
Dear Ms. Smale:
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is concerned about the United Nations’ actions related to Matthew Russell Lee, a journalist and blogger for Inner City Press. As you are aware, Inner City Press has been accredited to cover the UN by the predecessor department to your office, the Department of Public Information, since 2006. For twelve years, Mr. Lee has covered UN operations diligently, informing the English-speaking public via internet about budget decisions, General Assembly resolutions, audit reports, and research findings, among other things. Mr. Lee has also covered
important stories that affect the public interest in a global sense. Among his articles are stories about human rights abuse, peacekeeping, criminal misconduct, and the treatment of children in conflict zones.
GAP was therefore baffled to learn that the United Nations Secretariat has now banned Mr. Lee from its
New York premises. We have been unable to find any reference to regulations allegedly violated by Mr.
Lee. On the contrary, we see only evidence of unprovoked harassment. For example, in 2016, the
Secretariat evicted Mr. Lee from his resident correspondent’s office with insufficient time to prepare for the move. At the time, he was trying to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, convened by a
group that had accepted funds from Ng Lap Seng, who was subsequently convicted of bribery and sentenced to a four-year prison term by a US court. Twice in the past thirty days, Mr. Lee has been expelled from the UN’s New York Headquarters as he tried to cover newsworthy events there.
The UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit Guidelines for ‘Non-Resident Correspondents’ state, at
Paragraph 2a, that:
Non-Resident Correspondents can access UNHQ through the Visitors’ Entrance at 46th Street and 1st Avenue between 0800-1900 hours from Monday through Friday. Non-resident Correspondents only have access to UNHQ on weekends or after hours accompanied by a
resident correspondent or when a meeting is advised as taking place. Entry will be allowed two hours prior to the start of the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, the non-Resident correspondent must exit the premises within an hour.
On June 22, Mr. Lee was covering an event, in the UN Media Alert, which featured a speech by the
Secretary General, when he was forced to leave the UN, without his laptop, in violation of the
Even after Mr. Lee informed you, the Secretary General and others in a June 25 e-mail of the ouster and
what he alleges was the animus behind it, he was ousted again, more violently, on July 3 while covering
a UN Budget Committee meeting of the type he has covered for over 10 years, including the last two as
a non-resident correspondent. The existence of the meeting was advised to him by the Spokesperson of
the UN General Assembly. He was, in short, improperly forced to leave, and violently so.
Mr. Lee informs GAP that his previous messages to you, through which he sought an explanation for the
United Nations’ withdrawal of his resident (and later non-resident) correspondent’s credentials, have
gone unacknowledged and unanswered. We are therefore requesting from your office the following
information in writing:
• The regulation Mr. Lee violated that precipitated his expulsion on June 22, 2018 and again on
• His action that warranted expulsion under the rule;
• The name of the decision maker who approved the order to expel him.
Moreover, GAP understands that Mr. Lee is temporarily banned from access to the United Nations New
York Headquarters building, pending the completion of a review. Given this, GAP also requests the
• The authority under which the review has been undertaken;
• The name(s) of the reviewer(s);
• The process anticipated for conducting the review (i.e. phases, responsible authorities and
If there is no regulation violated, GAP requests that Mr. Lee be restored to resident correspondent
accreditation, and his (now) unused office S-303 be reassigned to him. Only that will prevent further
targeting by UN Security with animus, who have not been informed of the rules by the Media
Accreditation and Liaison Unit.
As the Under Secretary of Global Communications, GAP realizes that you are sensitive to the need for
due process when taking action against a journalist. Frequently, regimes that silence journalists and
revoke freedoms of expression ultimately come to abuse other human rights and/or tolerate corruption.
The link between human rights abuse and a lack of freedom of expression is recognized in the preamble
to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Similarly, Article 19 of the Declaration is explicit in its
directive to protect freedom of expression and access to information. The possibility that the United
Nations may avoid accountability by restricting access to its premises is disconcerting, and GAP would
very much appreciate responses to the questions posed above.
Very truly yours,
Senior International Policy Analyst
Cc: US Senator Patrick Leahy
US Representative Chris Smith
US Representative James McGovern
David Banisar, Article 19
Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press"
In the first visible step of the UN's self-investigation of the July 3 assault on the Press, on July 10 Inner City Press was interviewed for more than an hour by UN Security officer Raughn Perry in a windowless basement room of the UNITAR building across from the UN on 47th Street. Perry and his partner / witness Officer Valentin Stancu refused to include in what they typed and edited either the June 22 ouster of Inner City Press by Lt Dobbins and four Emergency Response Unit officers who refused to give their names, or Inner City Press' June 25 formal notification to Guterres, his deputy and chief of staff and Global Communicator Alison Smale that Inner City Press was being targeted by Dobbins based on an investigative piece it published about scam promotions in UN Security, including Dobbins' and others'. They would not include Inner City Press allegation of retaliation or vendetta, saying it was beyond the scope of their interview. They told Inner City Press not to make any notation to this effect on the statement they printed out, complete with mis-spelling of Cameroon, that it could submit that information later. But to whom? Their boss Peter Drennan has not acknowledged any of Inner City Press' e-mails to him, even those at the suggestion of Guterres' "Victims' Advocate" Jane Connors who kindly spoke with Inner City Press outside the visitors entrance and promised to appropriately forward what Inner City Press sent her, so far without effect. On June 11, after refusing to provide Inner City Press with even a summary of what Dobbins and Saunder have said, Perry did hand Inner City Press a copy of "its" statement. It says at the top, "This is a United Nations document and may not be disclosed or used outside of the Organization without first obtaining written permission from the United Nations." It seems absurd that the UN could further retaliate against Inner City Press publishing the print out of its statement about being attacked by UN Security. But when Inner City Press wrote to Perry and USG Drennan notifying them of its intent to publish and asking their confirm receipt, there was no response. This is Guterres' UN. So Inner City Press in an abundance of caution has transformed the hard-copy of its statement handed to it by UN Officer Perry into the below, without any changes other than to fix the UN's telling mis-spelling of Cameroon:
"My name is Matthew Lee. I am a journalist attached to Inner City Press.... I would like to state that on the evening of the 03 July 2018, I remained in the "Bull Pen" press area on the fourth floor of the Secretariat Building from 07:00PM to approximately 10:00PM writing articles and waiting to check on the status of the Fifth Committee Budget meeting. I would like to state that this area is reserved for Non-Resident Correspondents to perform their duties as they are not provided with offices or cubicles. At approximately 10:00PM, I proceeded to the Viennese Cafe, located on the first basement level of the UN Conference Building, to cover the Fifth Committee Budget meeting. I was aware that the meeting was closed so I anticipated waiting in the Viennese Cafe to speak with any of the Committee members about any news regarding the budget. I recalled that Mr. Tommo Monthe, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations, and Chairman of the Fifth Committee, approached me in the Viennese later that evening and explained the current state of the meeting/ discussions. I recorded our conversation on my mobile phone.
After Mr. Monthe and I ended our conversation, I proceeded to the dining area of the Viennses Cafe where I sat down to transcribe what Mr. Monthe had shared with me. Less than five minutes after sitting down, I observed two UN Security Officers approaching me. I recognized one of the Officers as Lieutenant Dobbins; I did not know the other Officer. Lieutenant Dobbins immediately said to me that I had to leave the building, while he (Lieutenant Dobbins) grabbed my computer from the table and put it in my backpack. The Officer I did not know approached me and grabbed at my chest. I did not know if that officer was attempting to reach for my UN grounds pass (which was hanging foom around my neck) but he grabbed the shirt I was wearing and he ripped it, creating two holes. That Officer then released my shirt and then grabbed my right forearm and begun twisting it and pulling me towards the front of the cafe towards the garage. I observed that Mr. Christian Saunders was in the vicinity. I called out to him and asked him if he could intervene. Mr. Saunders came over to where the Officers and I were and told me, "If the Officers are asking you to leave, then you should leave." I told Mr. Saunders that there is a Media Accreditation Liaison Unit rule that allows me to remain in the building beyond 07:00PM if there is a meeting to be covered and one hour after the meeting. The Officers then continued to physically pull me by my arms towards the UN garage. I then asked Mr. Saunders to accompany me as the Officers escorted me; to which he did. Mr. Saunders accompanied me as both Lieutenant Dobbins and the other unknown Officer escorted out of the UN premises via the 43rd Street and 1st Avenue exit. There was no other physical altercation through the UN garage or at the exit to the UN compound.
This statement was recorded by me at UNHQ on Tuesday 10 July, 2018 at 1100 hours, at room GA-1B-052.
Witnessed by: Valentin Stancu"
Even with the material Perry and Stancu refused to include - while including the wrong room number for the "recording" of the statement which took place in a windowless basement room of the UNITAR building which is not the GA or General Assembly, it is amazing that the UN's response to this is to ban Inner City Press from entering the UN for nine days about counting, including so it misses and cannot ask questions at Guterres' rare July 12 press conference. We'll have more on this. On July 11 at noon, Guterres' lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric was asked about Inner City Press by a sunny correspondent, UN transcript here: Question: Thank you. Can you update us on the status of the usual occupant of this chair?
Spokesman: The usual occupant of this chair?
Question: Of this chair.
Spokesman: His… there was an incident, I think, last week or a bit… I'm starting to get lost in the weeks. His status is being reviewed. And I know… my understanding is that he will be having discussions with various parts of this administration, and then we'll keep you updated, and I'm sure he will keep you updated.
Question: And is he currently suspended? Is he barred entry to this…
Spokesman: Yes. His credentials and pass have been suspended, pending review." What review? UN Security investigating itself, and covering up for Guterres who was informed of Lt Dobbins' vendetta on June 25 and did nothing? Officer Perry declined to or could not explain what the process or timing is going forward, or who unilaterally banned Inner City Press pending and apparently during this "investigation." He said to ask MALU and DPI - but DPI's Alison Smale has refused to answer or acknowledge a single one of Inner City Press' seven emails. We'll have more on this. On July 9, Haq was asked two questions, video here, from the UN transcript: Question: I was wondering if you have any update on Matthew Lee's situation. What's going on? And can you tell us the story of what happened to him exactly, because we know from his side of the story, but we don't know from the UN's side. Thank you.
Deputy Spokesman: I've provided details concerning that situation. The short answer is that there was an altercation last 3 July, and since this was the second incident in recent times in which your colleague had been disruptive in dealing with security after an earlier incident on 22 June, there's a review taking place that is under the aegis of the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Department of Safety and Security (DSS).
Question: Do you know how long the review will going to take? Is he going to be away for a long time, or is he going away for good?
Deputy Spokesman: As far as the timeline, I don't know how long it will take. I know that the review is currently ongoing.... Question: I just want to ask a follow-up to the question about the 3 July incident involving Inner City Press. Will the review include an evaluation of the actions by security itself that were alleged looking into whether, in fact, physical force… any physical force was used against Mr. Lee and the circumstances surrounding that as opposed to just his conduct, which, of course, I understand, but is… is the security's actions itself… are they going to be examined?
Deputy Spokesman: We are looking into the matter thoroughly, including the actions taken by the security forces. At the same time, I would point out that there is a concern whenever anyone, whether media or otherwise, has an altercation with the security in the build… inside the building." The only use of force was by Lt Dobbins and his co-conspirators, four of whom refused to give their names. On July 6 Haq called Inner City Press a "repeat offender." This is false. By the UN's own written rules Inner City Press was authorized to remain and cover both the June 22 event in the General Assembly lobby at which Antonio Guterres gave a speech and the July 3 Budget Committee meeting, the existence of which was notified to Inner City Press by a UN Spokesperson. That Inner City Press can film and stream Periscope video in UN hallways, without a UN minder, has been communicated to Inner City Press by the UN itself, which told it no minder was required to film in the hall outside of the clubhouse the UN gives to the silent UN Correspondents Association. Inner City Press' work in the fourth floor bullpen was authorized by DPI; its completing there its writing, often eight to ten stories a day, was open with nothing said by UN Security when Inner City Press left upon work's complete, through the Secretariat lobby and traffic circle guard booth. Lieutenant Dobbins on June 22 ignored the written rules and left Inner City Press without its laptop for three days. Dobbins and four officers who refused to give their names pushed Inner City Press right past multiple other non-resident correspondents. Their presence, then and on all other days, can be documented. With his partner on July 3, he grabbed Inner City Press laptop and Inner City Press' shirt was torn and arm twisted before any discussion. It was an abuse, and a set up. And banning Inner City Press for a review it has not even been contacted for, involving practices by Inner City Press that the UN has repeatedly authorized, is Kafka-esque or worse. Haq refused to answer Inner City Press questions about the review, saying contact the Department of Public Information whose Under Secretary General Alison Smale refuses to answer e-mails or petition, and the Department of Safety and Security, whose USG Peter Drennan also has a conflict of interest. Inner City Press published a leaked DSS e-mail alleging that Drennan “buried” a threat against then-UNESCO chief Irina Bokova, who ran against Guterres for the position of Secretary General. (She may now be in line to replace Prince Zeid as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, call it musical chairs). Drennan's response was to initiate an invasive investigation... of who leaked the e-mail to Inner City Press. He used public money to try to triangulate where the e-mail published by Inner City Press had been printed out. And now he has a role in deciding to ban Inner City Press from the UN compound preventing it from asking questions for two days and counting? This is a conflict of interest, the Kafka-esque UN that has grown worse under Guterres. Likewise, after Inner City Press exposed senior UN Security official Matthew Sullivan linking up with a group holding for-profit events in large UN meeting rooms, one ludicrously involving “GPS sneakers,” what happened next was Sullivan ousting Inner City Press from the photo booth over an open meeting about the cholera brought to Haiti by UN Peacekeeping. There's more - watch this site. On July 6, when Inner City Press went to the gate to ask politely if it could as before enter to attend the noon briefing and ask questions, it was told "No." Inner City Press reiterated its concern about censorship to Darrin Farrant, a staff member of Alison Smale of DPI who has not answered Inner City Press' six emails and petition; he said he would pass the concern along. We are waiting for an answer. At the day's noon briefing, unlike for most of his previous briefing, there were no questions at all for Brenden Varma the spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajcak. But, in the morning, Inner City Press had e-mailed Varma "two questions since I am banned from entering the UN: Since the PGA is using the term eSwatini, what is his comment on this: 'A pro-democracy activist in Swaziland has challenged the king's decision to change the country's name. In April, King Mswati III, one of the world's last-remaining absolute monarchs, unexpectedly announced he was changing the country's official name to the Kingdom of eSwatini. The activist, Thulani Maseko, argued in papers submitted to the High Court that the decision was invalid because there had been no prior public consultation.' Also, what is the PGA's comment on and action on UN banning Inner City Press from the UN on July 5, today and for the foreseeable future, after it was physically ousted from covering the July 3 meetings of the UNGA's 5th Committee? The issue has been raised, yesterday, to at least two members of his staff." At 4:52 pm, Varma replied with this: "As discussed before, none of these matters (country names, media accreditation, security at UNHQ) are matters for the PGA. I would have to refer to you to the Secretariat." And the Secretariat's spokesman refers Inner City Press to the Department of Public Information, whose chief Alison Smale has ignored six emails and a 5000 signature petition. Lajcak back in May 2017 told Inner City Press which asked about UN bribery, from Ashe now to Kutesa, There will be no secrets. That seemed to imply he would not stand by as an investigative journalist is ousted and banned from covering the GA. We'll see. Also at the day's noon briefing, the UN's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq took questions from France 24, Moroccan state media, Reuters and quickly turned over the podium to the PGA's spokesman. Inner City Press had asked Haq: "Since Inner City Press' six inquiries with the head of DPI Alison Smale have gone unanswered, and I am as you know banned from entering the building, who are you telling me to contact in Security and DPI? Aren't you the spokesperson for the Secretariat? Need answer immediately. For now, for noon, three questions:
In Tanzania, Julius Mtatiro asenior leader of a Tanzanian opposition party has been arrested for insulting President John Magufuli by asking“Who is the President, really?” Police detained him “as they found this phrase offensive to the president. They went on to search Mr Mtatiro’s home for the device used to post on social media.” What is the Secretary General's comment - and his / Country Team's action?
It is reported that Canada will deploy up to 20 civilian police officers to support both the United Nations peacekeeping mission and the EU training mission in Mali. So, will they be part of MINUSMA? How many Canadian personnel are currently part of MINUSMA, and what is the plan and timetable for additional Canadian joining of MINUSMA? Will Canadian troops have different (and significantly, better) security equipment that other countries' troops in MINUSMA?
On the deadly class between DRC's and Uganda's militaries on Lake Edward, what is the SG's comment and what is MONUSCO's action?" So far, even after the briefing, only this: "Regarding your question on Lake Edward, there is no comment or response from MONUSCO." We'll have more on this.
Haq told Fox News "Matthew Lee [i]s a repeat offender, having been similarly removed from the building on 22 June 2018, Matthew Lee has been temporarily barred from the premises pending a full review of this incident." There is no offense by Inner City Press: the rules permit Inner City Press to cover meetings after 7 pm, on June 22 a speech by Secretary General Antonio Guterres and on July 3 a meeting about Guterres' $6.7 billion budget. So since no one from the UN contacted Inner City Press on July 5 about any review, Inner City Press wrote to Haq and his boss Stephane Dujarric (out of the office again). Haq replied, "Receipt is confirmed. For questions about security issues, you will need to be in touch with security and with DPI." But neither Department has a spokesperson - Haq is the spokesperson for the Secretariat -- and Inner City Press has written six times to the head of DPI without a single response. The head of DPI ordered an investigation of him own staff after Inner City Press published a leaked email about him "burying" a threat to another UN system official, Irina Bokova (who may, some say, become High Commissioner for Human Rights). So Haq's "answer" is Orwellian. We will have more on this. Guterres was informed on June 25 by Inner City Press of the escalating targeting by his UN Security Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins. In fact, Guterres deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on July 3 essentially gave the green light for that evening's Security violence. On July 5, Guterres' lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to answer press questions about the ouster before "his" noon briefing. Afterward, when Saunders sauntered out of the UN in black sunglasses and was informed that Inner City Press was now banned, his response was to complain about some of the written coverage of him. Video here. So is that why he cheered on the twisting of the Press' arm? Will this obviously biased official be witness in the "full review of the incident" pending which Inner City Press is indefinitely banned? Brenden Varma the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak (whose chief of staff and under-staffer were also informed of the Press ban) said, as his office summarized, "This afternoon at 3:00, the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which handles administrative and budgetary matters, will formally take action on all outstanding issues, including United Nations peacekeeping budgets and the Secretary-General’s management reform and peace and security architecture reform proposals.
It will then close the second part of its resumed session.
Following that, the General Assembly plenary will meet to consider the report of the Fifth Committee." Inner City Press was banned from this meeting and vote. While the UN has told Inner City Press nothing, Guterres spokesman Farhan Haq told FOX News' Adam Shaw that "security followed up, they found Matthew Lee to be in the building past 9 p.m., well after the hours for a non-resident correspondent, and they informed him that he was not allowed to roam around the UN compound at that hour. They informed him that he would be required to leave the premises. At that point, Mr. Lee became loud and belligerent, and resisted the instructions of UN security officers. He was then escorted outside the building, along with his laptop and backpack. Based on his unacceptable behavior, and the fact that he was a repeat offender, having been similarly removed from the building on 22 June 2018, Matthew Lee has been temporarily barred from the premises pending a full review of this incident." But Inner City Press has not been contacted for any review, which would have to include UN Security twisting its reporter's arm before any volume, and the MALU rule permitted coverage of meetings after 7 pm, and for an hour after then end. This was pure targeting, and Guterres and his team are responsible. Eleven days after UN Security officers led by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbin and four others who refused to give their names pushed Inner City Press' reporter out of the UN during a speech by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, on July 3 just after Inner City Press interviewed the chairman of the UN Budget Committee, Dobbins and another UN Security officer even more physically removed Inner City Press from the UN. Video here, tweeted here. Hours later as diplomats and Guterres officials who witnessed it left the UN, Inner City Press asked Guterres' Under Secretary General for Field Support Atul Khare about the process. He admitted, contrary to Guterres' spokesman, that the Support Account was still not agreed. Shown the shirt that UN Security officers Dobbins and his thus far UNnamed partner tore, he said, "I'll talk to DPI." While appreciated, Inner City Press already six times wrote to DPI's Alison Smale, and last week spoke directly to her and her piano playing husband Sergei Dreznin at the End of UNSC Presidency reception. Inner City Press told Smale, and an hour later emailed her, that her continued disparate treatment of active Inner City Press as a non - resident correspondent would allow further targeting like that of Lieutenant Dobbins and four unnamed Emergency Response Unit officers on June 22. Smale didn't even confirm receipt of the email as requested. And on July 3 a new officer got involved as Inner City Press covered the UN budget, breaking Inner City Press' laptop, tearing its shirt and twisting its arm. Smale and Guterres are responsible. This all happened as Inner City Press was actively writing about the UN's murky $6.7 billion peacekeeping budget and questionable reforms by Guterres. It happened directly in front of, and ultimately at the order of, a Guterres Assistant Secretary General, Christian Saunders. A number of diplomats stood and took pictures and videos. Here as the interview, pre-ouster, with the Budget Committee chairman Tommo Monthe of Cameroon, video here. Guterres' spokesman Farhan on both July 2 and July 3 insisted to Inner City Press that the budget was agreed to in a closed session on Sunay, when clearly it has not been approved. While we will have more on the other UN Security Officer, Inner City Press has previously reported on issues with Saunders, from education to the cover up of sexual harassment and abuse in the UN. The fact that Antonio Guterres allows this to go on in his UN should disqualify him. The UN had at least 11 days to deal with this - Inner City Press repeatedly at the noon briefing asked about the rules, and the budget - and this was their response. Significantly, on July 3 the Government Accountability Project has criticized the ouster and called for Inner City Press to be reinstated as a UN Resident Correspondent. Inner City Press asked Guterres' Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'd asked you, a week ago, about the UN policy of UN security ousting the non-resident correspondent during a meeting to be covered and refusing to give their names, and now the Government Accountability Project has asked the same question. So I'm wondering, you didn't ask me when I answered it [sic], what is the policy of the UN on something as fundamental as security officers giving their names, and also can they oust journalists during a meeting such as a budget meeting that will be upcoming, I would believe, in upcoming days?
Deputy Spokesman: As far as I'm aware, the security officers were enforcing the appropriate rules. Any problems that you have with them are questions that you need to address with our colleagues in UN security and with Media Accreditation." But as GAP notes, the boss of Media Accreditation Alison Smale has refused to answer anything in eight months. GAP writes: "as security expelled Mr. Lee from the building, he encountered Catherine Pollard, the UN’s Under-Secretary General (USG) for General Assembly and Conference Management, who pointedly ignored his plight and simply stayed her course, despite his plea for her intervention. Along the way, Mr. Lee also asked the guards for their names, which they refused to provide. This most recent incident is the latest in a long history of harassment directed at a journalist who has been critical of UN management and operations over the years. Mr. Lee’s investigative reporting has broken stories concerning sexual abuses committed by peacekeepers in Africa, the role of UN peacekeepers in bringing cholera to Haiti, and war crimes in Sri Lanka, Burundi and Sudan [and Cameroon]. Mr. Lee’s reporting has also helped to expose corruption at the Headquarters of the United Nations, including the current bribery scandals surrounding former General Assembly President [Sam Kutesa and] John Ashe."
In the eleven days since the ouster, live-streamed on Periscope and then put on YouTube, the UN of Antonio Guterres has not responded in any way. Inner City Press was first told to "Ask Security" then to "Ask DPI" or as it now absurdly wants to be known, the UN Department of Global Communications. But as GAP continues, "Like USG Pollard, the Under-Secretary for Global Communications, Alison Smale, seems deaf to Mr. Lee’s distress; she has refused for eight months to answer e-mails or respond to a petition to restore his credentials as a resident correspondent." Inner City Press since the ouster has raised it to Smale not only in writing (again) but also in person - with no response. Global Communications, indeed. GAP concludes: The Government Accountability Project therefore urges the Member States of the United Nations to combat the silencing of a journalist by taking action at the offices of the self-appointed guardian of free speech, itself: the United Nations. Matthew Lee should be: Reinstated as a resident correspondent with appropriate access to facilities and events, and Issued a public apology for the improper expulsion that occurred on June 22nd." To Inner City Press, it is the first of these, restoration to its long time work space S-303 which sits empty every day, assigned to an Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom whose Sanaa Youssef, while a former president of the UN Correspondents Association (1984) has not asked the UN a question in a decade. As to apologies from today's UN, the disingenuous apology in Haiti for example shows how much those are worth. We'll have more on this. Guterres' lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric evaded Inner City Press' questions then ran off the podium. Video here. Despite the fact that Guterres' armed guards ousted Inner City Press and that the UN Department of Public Information under Alison Smale did nothing, Dujarric babbled that Inner City Press should "ask DPI" then ran off the podium. Video here. From the UN (controlled) transcript: Inner City Press: Farhan [Haq], on Monday, when I informed him that on Friday I had been, during an event in which the Secretary-General was giving a speech, made to leave by UN Security while other non-resident correspondents, a distinction you just cited, were still in attendance, he said to talk to security. And that seems strange to me, because it seems to me that the Secretariat, like civilian…
Spokesman: I think if there are any issues that you have…
Inner City Press: My issue…
Spokesman: If you have any issues with your access, you should take them up with DPI [Department of Public Information] and the people who actually issue the accreditation.
Inner City Press: They came… they came and they said there was nothing they could do…
Spokesman: "Thank you very much. Brenden." The UN transcript omitted the audible question, "So can Security just at will bar journalists?" Video here. The UN of Guterres, Dujarric and Smale is a place of corruption and censorship, and self-serving erasure even of the questions asked, with the public's money. The day before, after cutting off Inner City Press' question about protests of Guterres' inaction on sexual harassment cover-ups at UNAIDS, Dujarric called on a correspondent for a London-based Arabic daily. Then he called on that same correspondent again before returning to Inner City Press. Sensing this second round might be cut off, Inner City Press began asking about Guterres inaction on Cameroon then on his Security's ouster of the Press which asks. But Dujarric after evading the Cameroon question turned to Al Jazeera which asked what even it called a light question about the French label pin on Dujarric's sear-sucker jacket. Then Dujarric simply left the room, so that Inner City Press' question about Guterres' use of his Security to target the Press could not be asked. On June 22 Inner City Press was live-streaming Periscope and preparing to write about Secretary General Antonio Guterres' claims about his visit to Mali, where he didn't even inquire into a recent case child rape by a UN Peacekeeper. With the event still ongoing, Inner City Press was approached by Lieutenant Dobbins and told that since it was just past 7 pm it had to leave the building. Video here.
That is not the rule, nor the practice. But Inner City Press under Guterres and his head of Global Communications Alison Smale has inexplicable been at the "non-resident correspondent" level lowered from that of no-show state media like Akbhar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef, assigned Inner City Press' long time office despite rarely coming in and not asking a question in ten years.
While Guterres and Smale have created and encourage the atmosphere for targeting the Press, Dobbins had and has his own reasons. Inner City Press previously exclusively reported on fraudulent promotions in the UN Department of Safety and Security, beginning of serieshere with a leaked document with Dobbins own name on it, under the heading "Possible Promotions... if Dobbins does not want Canine / ERU." Document here. Since the publication, Dobbins and a number of UN Security officers have openly targeted Inner City Press. This has been raised in writing to Smale (for eight months), for almost 18 months to Guterres and his deputy Amina J. Mohammed, whose response has been to evade questions on Cameroon and now an ambiguous smile while surrounded by UN Security. On June 25 Inner City Press asked Guterres' Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq about it, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:
on Friday there was the Eid event in which António Guterres gave a speech, and I… I want… I guess I want to put this in a general way because I don't understand it. During the event, as the event went on, I was required to leave by a Lieutenant Dobbins and the emergency response unit. And it seemed strange, because there were many other non-resident correspondents at the event. So, I wanted to know… to know, one, what are the rules? Number two, is it acceptable for a… a… UN Security to… to single out and target a specific journalist? And I did… and I ask this because I've previously written a story about promotions in DSS [Department of Safety and Security], including Mr. Dobbins, and whatever that is, what are the provisions in the UN to make sure that security cannot abuse its powers? So those are… I… I… I'd like you to answer that, and also they didn't give their names. The other individuals refused to give their names. Is that UN policy?
Deputy Spokesman: UN Security has their policies. Your concerns with them need to be addressed to UN Security. I'm not going to comment on your own problems with UN Security. Brenden, come on up.
Inner City Press: I don't understand. This happened at a speech by the Secretary-General.
Deputy Spokesman: No, I'm sorry, your security issues are things you're going to have to deal with.
Inner City Press: It's not a security issue. It was done in the name of the Secretary-General. Is he speaking tomorrow at 6 p.m. somewhere? Can you say where the Secretary-General is speaking tomorrow at 6 p.m.?
Deputy Spokesman: I’m not going to argue with you on this." There was more - video here.
Even if Lt Dobbins and his team and commanders wanted to interpret and twist the existing rules in a way they are not enforced against any other non-resident correspondent at the UN, the Guterres Eid al -Fitr event listed in the UN Department of Public Information was still ongoing, making it unquestionable that Inner City Press had a right to be in the UN and cover it.
But even as Inner City Press dialed DPI's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, getting only voice mail, Dobbins made a call and UN “Emergency Response Unit” officers arrived, with barely concealed automatic weapons. One of them repeatedly pushed Inner City Press' reporter in the back, forcing him through the General Assembly lobby toward the exit. Video here.
UN Under Secretary General Catherine Pollard was told the ouster and did nothing, as was a Moroccan diplomat. The heavily armed UN Security officers refused to give their names when asked. Lieutenant Dobbins, with no name plate on his uniform, refused to spell his name. He said, I have my orders. From who - Guterres? His Deputy SG or chief of staff, both of whom were at the event? DSS chief Drennan? DPI chief Alison Smale?
Inner City Press repeatedly asked to be able to get its laptop computer, which was upstairs - there was no way to have known it would be ousted during Guterres' event.
But Dobbins and the others refused, as did the UN Security officers at the gate. Inner City Press remained there, with dwindling cell phone battery, raising the issue online to Smale, under whose watch Inner City Press has remained in the non-resident correspondent status it was reduced to for pursuing the Ng Lp Seng UN bribery case into the UN press briefing room where Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric ordered it out, then had it evicted. A DPI representative, whom Inner City Press asked to call Smale, was unable or unwilling to even let Inner City Press go in escorted to get its laptop.
Just in the past week, when Inner City Press complained of Dujarric providing only to Al Jazeera the response of Antonio Guterres to the US leaving the UN Human Rights Council, Dujarric and the Al Jazeera trio claimedto MALU that the coverage was “too aggressive.” Journalism is not a crime? Next week, Antonio Guterres is set to give remarks, to which Inner City Press has requested the right to cover response, to the UN Correspondents Association, which not only has not acted on this censorship, but has fueled it.
Inside the UN the Eid event continued, alongside a liquor fueled barbeque thrown by UN Security. This DSS sold tickets to non resident correspondents, and allowed in people who had nothing to do with the UN, including some seeming underage. When Inner City Press audibly raised the issue to UN Safety and Security Service chief Mick Brown, he did nothing.
The Moroccan diplomat emerged and chided Inner City Press for even telling him of the ouster, claiming that “25% of what you write is about Morocco.” Some Periscope video here. Pakistan's Permanent Representative, who hosted the Eid event, said she would look into it. Sweden's spokesperson asked whom to call in DPI and when Inner City Press said, Alison Smale, responded, Who is Alison Smale? Indeed.
Smale has refused to respond in any way, in the eight months she has been Guterres' “Global Communications” chief, to a 5000 signature petition to restore Inner City Press to its unused office S-303 and to adopt content neutral media access rules going forward. That, and appropriate action on Lt. Dobbins and the others, must be among the next steps. Watch this site.