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UN Physically Removes Independent Media From NYC HQ For Exposing Institutional Corruption

21st Century Wire says…

For years, the United Nations seems to have been embroiled in an endless string of scandals and cover-ups, and yet rarely, if ever, has anyone ever actually been held to account. This has led a number of pundits to accuse the institution of being ‘above the law’ and riddled with institutional corruption.

This latest story only reaffirms these accusations…

matthew-russell-leeIndependent journalist Matthew Russell Lee (photo, left) founded Bronx-based Inner City Press in 2005 and received official press accreditation to cover the United Nations in New York City. He was the first-ever independent, non-affiliated blogger to be given access to the UN’s inner sanctum. Since then Inner City Press has broken stories on a number of controversial stories: peacekeeper rapes in Africa, UN cholera in Haiti, war crimes in Sri Lanka and Burundi, the Sudans, SEMG and Yemen (see a leaked letter here), as well as corruption within UN Headquarters (cocaine shipments through its mail room and the current bribery scandals).

Apparently, it was all too much for diplomatic luminaries at the UN. Last month, Lee was forcibly ejected from the UN headquarters.

The DC-based Government Accountability Project, which defends UN and other whistleblowers, believes that the ouster of Inner City Press from the UN’s press office is “retaliatory in response to independent, critical journalism.”

UN Restricts of Free Press

On the afternoon of February 19th, Inner City Press questioned UN inaction in South Sudan and Burundi and financial irregularities, and was handed a letter from Ban Ki-moon’s Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach ordering Inner City Press to surrender its Resident Correspondent accreditation of eight years and be removed from the UN by 5 pm. In a letter that gave Inner City Press only two hours notice, Gallach told Inner City Press to surrender the key to its long-time shared office. Read the UN letter here. Later, while Inner City Press was writing up a UN Security Council meeting on Syria that went into the evening, a total of eight UN Security guards under Deputy Chief Michael McNulty tore off Inner City Press’ UN ID badge and grabbed Inner City Press’ laptop and camera, before throwing them on the sidewalk on First Avenue as well as physically throwing journalist Matthew Lee on the street in freezing weather, without a coat. Audio here; video as UN Security turns off Inner City Press’ Periscope livestream here:

When Inner City Press was thrown out onto First Avenue, standing waiting, laughing and filming, was Voice of America’s Margaret Besheer and another board member of the UN Correspondents Association, whose president Giampaoli Pioli told Inner City Press if it didn’t remove a (truthful) article about his screening of a war crimes denial film for a tenant of his, Sri Lanka’s then ambassador Palitha Kohona, he would get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. Inner City Press wrote:

“Ban Ki-moon, whose ‘victory tour’ of blood-soaked northern Sri Lanka Inner City Press covered and was never forgiven for by Ban’s UN, was the target of a demonstration in Jaffa for the ouster of Inner City Press.”

Tamils in Jaffna protest the cancellation of the resident correspondent’s press accreditation of Inner City Press from the UN Building in New York City:

After being ejected from the UN in late February, Lee fought for Inner City Press to return to UN and was granted a lower level visitor/non-resident correspondent access which prohibits it from part of the UN building it used to access, and leaves it unable to use its long time office to download and edit videos, conduct confidential interviews, etc.. On March 3 Inner City Press again endeavored to ask Sri Lanka questions, including the UN’s role in killings there. Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Farhan Haq tried to PRE cut off the questions. Video here, from the UN transcript.

Supporters of Inner City Press launched a petition to restore Lee and Inner City Press to its former office space.

READ MORE UN NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire UN Files



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