Petition update

Inner City Press was ousted from UN on July 3, then banned outright July 5 and since: letter to UNSG

UNfree Press

Jul 7, 2018 — The UN's attempts to prevent independent coverage by Inner City Press have hit a new low. On July 3 two UN Security officers physically ousted Inner City Press from covering the UN Fifth Committee meetings on the $6.7 billion peacekeeping budget and reforms. Then on July 5 and July 6, for the the foreseeable future as of the posting of this update on July 7, Inner City Press was outright banned from entering the UN, rendering it unable to ask questions at the noon briefing or UN Security Council stakeout. So the letter below has gone in to Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Deputy SG Amina Mohammed, Chief of Staff Viotti and the unresponsible USG Alison Smale - this must end and Inner City Press be restored to S-303 and no longer targeted:

Secretary General Guterres, Deputy SG Mohammed, Chief of Staff Viotti:

On July 3 as I covering the Fifth Committee meeting, just after interviewing the Committee chairman in the Vienna Cafe, I was violently ousted from the UN compound by Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbin, whose targeting of me on June 22 I wrote to you about on June 25. Between June 25, when I also wrote to the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and the even more outrageous ouster of July 3, apparently nothing was done. This is a failure, and is resulting in censorship.

On July 5 when I sought to enter the UN through the Visitors Entrance on 45th Street as I have been required to do since early 2016 when I covered an event in the UN Press Briefing Room in furtherance of the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe bribery story and conviction, I was told I was “banned” from entering the UN.

Later on July 5 Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told Fox News that I am a “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.”
The review that should be undertaken is why Lt Dobbins was allowed to target me doing my job for the second time in less than two weeks, and why nothing was done following my June 25 e-mails to you and OIOS. I have not been contacted for this supposed “review.”
So I send this to you. Now you are informed: by the UN's own written rules I was authorized to remain and cover both the June 22 Eid al Fitr event in the General Assembly lobby which featured a (late) SG speech and the July 3 Budget Committee meeting, the existence of which was notified to Inner City Press by a UN Spokesperson, specifically the spokesperson of the President of the General Assembly.

That I can film and stream Periscope video in UN hallways, without a UN minder, has been communicated to Inner City Press by UN DPI's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit itself, which told me no minder was required to film in the hall outside of the clubhouse the UN gives to the UN Correspondents Association. My work in the fourth floor bullpen was authorized by DPI; my completing there my writing, often eight to ten stories a day, was open with nothing said by UN Security when I left upon work's completion, through the Secretariat lobby and traffic circle guard booth.

Lieutenant Dobbins on June 22 ignored the written rules and media access guidelines and left me without my laptop for three days. Dobbins and four officers who refused to give their names pushed me right past multiple other non-resident correspondents. Their presence, then and on all other days, can be documented, including with the same card-swipe data Haq cited, as a pretext, to Fox News.
Dobbins with his partner (whose name was not given but whose photograph is online) on July 3 grabbed my laptop and jammed it the wrong way into my backpack; my shirt was torn and my arm painfully twisted before any discussion.

I find Haq statement to Fox News that my banning, for two work days now, is justified by my having been “loud and belligerent” particularly offensive. My arm was pulled, and then twisted. Anyone would be loud in such a circumstance, and more generally when pretextually ordered to stop covering something as important as a $6.7 billion budget which I was entitled to cover, as I did, including after having repeatedly asked the spokespeople about it and having been informed by one that the process continued.

It was an abuse, and a set up. And banning me for a review I have not even been contacted for, involving practices by Inner City Press that the UN has repeatedly authorized, is Kafka-esque or worse.

I should be permitted full access on Monday, July 9 and be restored to the resident correspondent accreditation which was taken from me for pursuing the story of UN bribery and in the absence of which Lt Dobbins and others can target me in the name of the UN.

Haq declined to answer my written questions about the review, saying contact the Department of Public Information whose Under Secretary General Alison Smale has refused to answer six e-mails or a 5000 signature petition to restore Inner City Press to resident coordinator status, and the Department of Safety and Security, whose USG Peter Drennan also, I hereby contend, may have 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. 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 represents a conflict of interest.

But I have already been injured, and prohibited from entering and covering the UN for two work days, July 5 and July 6. (As to the 38th floor, I informed ASG Fabrizio Hochschild on both days of my banning; I am informed of others' awareness). This must end. I request that you confirm receipt, end the “ban” on my entering the UN and asking questions at the UN noon briefing, and direct USG Smale to restore Inner City Press to its long time work space S-303, which sits unused, and to resident correspondent status, as for example the whistleblower protection organization the Government Accountability Project has demanded here and here (“Harassment of US Journalist Intensifies at the UN”).

I request that you confirm receipt of this, which was not initially done with previous correspondence on this increasingly troubling targeting and now censorship of the Press.

Matthew Russell Lee, Esq., Inner City Press
Past (and future) Office at UN: Room S-303, UN HQ, NY NY 10017
Cell: 718-716-3540 [&]
Email Matthew.Lee [at] and this
Encrypted email: matthewrlee [at] and @FUNCA_info

Support / subscribe for 2018:

June 25, 2018: As UN Targets Inner City Press for Retaliation, New Letter to SG Guterres, DSG, CoS and Smale

July 6, 2018, “Harassment of US Journalist Intensifies at the UN,”

July 5, 2018, "UN roughs up, ejects, bans reporter from headquarters: Caught on tape," Fox News, by Adam Shaw

July 3, 2018, “Unnamed Security Guards Expel US Journalist from the United Nations,” GAP

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