July 3, 2018

Security guards at UN remove US reporter critical of leadersihp

Government Accountability Project -  On June 22, armed security guards at the United Nations forced US journalist Matthew Russell Lee to leave the premises as he tried to cover a speech delivered by Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Mr. Lee has been accredited to cover the UN for Inner City Press since 2006, and the expulsion was neither announced nor explained. Curiously, no senior official present objected to the manhandling of a reporter, which occurred in full view of many of them. On the contrary, as security expelled Mr. Lee from the building, he encountered Catherine Pollard, the UN’s Under-Secretary General 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. 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 John Ashe.

In short, as a journalist, Mr. Lee has been doing his job at the UN by keeping the English-speaking public informed about both achievements and misconduct there. It should be noted that, in the course of performing his duties, Mr. Lee has always been observant of UN protocols and respectful in his interactions with UN officials.

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