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Under the leadership of UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, the United Nations seems to be joining countries or government associations, that see critical media as their enemies. Mr. Pololikashvili is from the Republic of Georgia, a country ranked “partially free” with a rank of 102 in the world of free media.
Even in the United States, where media is considered free and guaranteed under the first amendment of the U.S. constitution, U.S. President Donald Trump called critical media including CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post as enemies of the people. Fortunately, there is not much the president can do to stop the American media. The United States is considered number 33 and ranked as “free” in the world when it comes to freedom of the press.
The UN Specialized Agency for Tourism UNWTO has now openly declared eTurboNews as the enemy of world tourism.
The agency spent United Nations money to hire the law firm Case Lombardi & Pettie in Honolulu, Hawaii to deliver a demand email to Cease and Desist Defamatory Statements against UNWTO. The letter was emailed on November 21 to Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews.
The letter doesn’t explain what the complaint is referring to. The attorneys did not respond for the last 2 weeks after repeated letters and phone calls by eTurboNews. UNWTO also did not respond to inquiries by eTN.
Just two weeks earlier eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz met Marcelo Risi, Head of media relations of UNWTO during the recently concluded World Travel Market in London. Steinmetz urged Risi to re-open the channel of communication between eTurboNews and UNWTO to avoid any type of one-sided reports.
Ever since Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili was appointed to lead the tourism body as of January 1, 2018, no response was ever received to questions by eTurboNews reporters. Accreditation to the General Assembly in St. Petersburg Russia was denied for eTurboNews staff.
Reaching out to the Russian host was also without success. Russia is considered spot 174 in world press freedom and ranked as “not free”.
eTurboNews emails to UNWTO email receivers were blocked by the UN Specialized Agency during the General Assembly in September.
eTN had to contact UNWTO readers and suggested to them to subscribe with their personal email instead. The email eTN used to contact UNWTO staff was the same email the Honolulu law firm used to contact the eTurboNews publisher with their demand letter on behalf of UNWTO. After the eTN email to UNWTO staff, the internet web-server of this publication was hacked by an unknown attacker and the keyword “UNWTO” was temporarily erased during the criminal attack on this publication server.Tech experts by the hosting company deleted a malicious script and file implanted under the name “Iranian hacker” on the eTN server. It’s unclear if there is a connection between UNWTO and Iran. eTurboNews reported why Iran is important to UNWTO in December 2018. Iran is country number 190 when it comes to freedom of press and considered “not free.”
Despite the ongoing attack by UNWTO, eTurboNews continued to be the number one global publication covering the agencies’ press statements without edit and in a mostly positive way. As of today, eTurboNews published 3794 press-releases and stories on UNWTO over the last 12 years. It does not include articles published on the other publications under the TravelNewsGroup .
eTurboNews continued and will continue to report about UNWTO.
eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz said: “eTurboNews had received many confidential outcries for help from members of the inner circle within the UNWTO and only published a fraction of such feedback. We always crosscheck such content and provide an opportunity for UNWTO to comment. Ever since 2018 UNWTO has not responded to emails or phone calls and did not comment on eTurboNews. The Secretary-General did not invite eTN reporters to press- conferences and disallowed eTN to ask question at the only press conference this publication attended. The conference was by WTTC.”
eTurboNews worked with UNWTO for almost 20 years and represented the global media at the UNWTO task Group against sexual exploitation of children in tourism.
This task group was a priority under the former Secretary-General Dr. Taleb Rifai and was eliminated by Pololikashvili right after he took the helm. No reason was ever given to the members of the task group.
The worst five countries in the world when it comes to press freedom are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Eritrea, Crimea. and North Korea. The best ratings in press freedom are recorded in Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Denmark.
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