Voice of America Challenged Press Access, Citing Reuters & AFP

When the US government broadcaster Voice of America asked the UN on June 20, 2012 to “review” the accreditation status of Inner City Press, the UN Correspondents Association’s president Giampaolo Pioli and first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters claimed they had nothing to do with the request.

On June 30, however, the two demanded that Inner City Press withdraw a Freedom of Information Act request it had filed for records related to VOA’s complaint, or face a release of a one-sided UNCA report and a subsequent show trial seeking to vote Inner City Press out.

Inner City Press did not withdraw the FOIA request. It stopped writing about the dispute for some months. On August 8, some 800 pages of documents requested under FOIA were released, while at least 150 pages were withheld. The documents initially released are reviewed and linked to here.

Even on first review, the documents show that Reuters and Agence France Presse, among others, were part of the campaign to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.

On June 18 at 12:40 pm, VOA’s Margaret Besheer e-mailed her editor Steve Redisch that “My Reuters colleague just told me his people are probably going to go the same route – to press UN to pull Mr. Lee’s UN accreditation.” Click here for that e-mail, released August 7 under FOIA.

As to Agence France Presse, on June 18 at 12:58 pm, Besheer wrote to VOA’s lawyers that

“My AFP colleague asks if they could possibly get the tenor of our letter so they can stay on message and ask In the same way. Their legal dept is in France, so It would be their regional director in Washington contacting UN on their behalf.”

The “AFP colleague”  is Timothy Witcher who previously sought to use the UNCA bureaucracy to admonish Inner City Press for an accurate article concerning the French Mission to the UN and Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping. Emboldened by these anti-Press moves, Ladsous in the second half of 2012 started refusing to answer Press questions. See first video here; more forthcoming.

They couldn’t stop Inner City Press from reporting, so they sought to get it thrown out of the UN and in the meanwhile, stopped answering questions.

On June 11, citing Bloomberg News, Besheer wrote that ” UNCA now discussing with UN officials (very quietly) next steps… They will have to step up and do their part -and pull his accreditation. It is my understanding that UN legal dept is now involved.”  Click here to view this troubling e-mail,which more than any other has triggered the launch of FUNCA, the Free United Nations Coalition for Access.

Contact us if you’ve been denied access to the UN, or see things that could work better : funca [at] funca.info

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