Matthew Lee from the Inner City Press was banned from entering into the United Nations following a supposed media violation in late January, 2016. After another journalist managed to gain Lee access into the U.N’s building in New York, he was allowed in but his press accreditation had been revoked so he had “reduced” access. But why was he really banned from entering the U.N.? Well, some say it’s because Lee was investigating the multiple cases of corruption involving members of the United Nations, some of the U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“As Inner City Press at the UN pursues unfolding stories of corruption, peacekeepers committing rapes in the Central African Republic, UN inaction in Burundi, South Sudan and Yemen, on February 19 with two hours notice UN Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press to be ousted.”
Lee had been an esteemed member of the press covering the events happening in and around the United Nations.
This latest escapade was supposedly brought about from those within the organization that Lee used to work for, the UNCA. According to the journalist…
“UNCA leadership including Giampaoli Pioli, two scribes for the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, one from Reuters and others demanded that Inner City Press not cover a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room.
“Suspending their meeting in which they discussed among other tawdry topics selling UN space to those who pay them money, UNCA called in UN Spokesman Dujarric and his deputy and then UN Security…”
What’s interesting is that Lee had decided to part ways from the UNCA for the very exact same reasons he was investigating the United Nations: corruption.
In the Signs of the Times article, they quote Lee as having told them…
“I quit UNCA because I found it to be basically a club for Reuters and AP. I concluded that they are part of this corruption scandal throughout the UN. Three people have been indicted for paying bribes. Two of the three bribe-payers gave money to this UN correspondent’s association.”
What Lee says is true. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal from October 6th, 2015, it was revealed that U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe from Antigua and Barbuda took under-the-table funds from a Chinese businessman and was charged for bribery.
According to these reports one name keeps popping up in relation to the corruption charges… United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He was one of the individuals that Lee was investigating and was implicated but not charged with possibly selling space in the United Nations.
Nevertheless, a letter to the Inner City Press from the U.N’s Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Cristina Gallach, stated that Lee was in “violation” of the media guidelines, but in the letter Gallach didn’t specifically say which ones or how he was in violation. Gallach writes in the letter dated February 19th, 2016…
“After reviewing the facts, the Department of Public Information has determined that your actions were in violation of the United Nations Media Guidelines, which you agreed to by accepting the Media ID and when you received your accreditation.” […]
“In the light of the above, it has been decided to withdraw your Resident Correspondent (White P) accreditation and change your status to non-Resident Correspondent (Green P). This status will be granted for an initial four month period, after which you may apply for renewal.”
Supposedly the meeting taking place in the Press Briefing Room that Lee was in was supposedly labeled as “private” and that he wasn’t supposed to be in the room during the meeting. Lee left the meeting even though it was a Press Briefing Room… for press.
Lee, being the savvy journalist that he is, managed to snag recordings while he was being tossed out of the U.N’s building, asking the security why he was being thrown out and what violation he committed to warrant such a response. You can listen to the Soundcloud below.
In The New American report about Lee getting ousted from the U.N., they quoted the International attorney for whistleblowers and disputes involving international organizations, Edward Flaherty. According to Flaherty Lee was always willing to ask the tough questions and was one of the few honest journalists in the business, saying…
“Journalists are the front-line whistleblowers of society, and allowing the UN to cut off Matthew’s access to its premises on specious grounds is a serious hindrance for all whistleblowers. I am disgusted by the UN’s trampling of the U.S. First Amendment, in America! Where is the State Department in this? Why are they not demanding Matthew’s press freedom?”
Why are they not demanding Matthew’s press freedom? Because too many of the corrupt ones are busy on Twitter and on their blogs trying to defend Gawker’s right to post revenge porn and calling it a “First Amendment issue”.
The New American article explains that many of the individuals they interviewed acknowledged that Lee was the real deal, writing…
“[…] multiple UN officials and insiders, current and former, have acknowledged that Lee is among a tiny group of real journalists who take their job as watchdogs seriously. For years, Lee has been asking the hard questions that establishment-minded “journalists” working for the establishment press refuse to ask.
“Lee has also broken important stories, including exposing the UN Development Program’s funding of forcible disarmament schemes in Uganda that included the detention of children and other abuses.”
It’s mostly a one-sided story at this point, favoring the side of Lee. However, the problem is that the U.N., doesn’t appear to have much evidence to share that makes their actions palatable or sensible from those on the outside looking in.
The U.N., had a chance to explain themselves while throwing out Matthew Lee from the New York offices, but they chose not to. The U.N., had a second chance to explain themselves when they wrote the letter to Matthew Lee explaining why he was thrown out of the office in explicit detail, but they chose not to. Instead the story is simply that he violated the media standards because he was in a meeting they claimed to be “private”. Beyond that they don’t seem to have offered much else as an explanation.
Instead it appears some sects of the U.N., are just too busy trying to ban video games and anime in Japan, and covering up their own Peacekeeper rapes happening abroad to bother to give a legitimate reason as to why an investigative journalist was banned from the premises after it was revealed that he was investigating the organization for corruption.