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UN’s Annan Upset About Interview

March 19, 2002

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Secretary-General Kofi Annan was ``surprised and dismayed″ that an interview he gave an Arab-language magazine wound up in Penthouse magazine without the knowledge of the United Nations, his spokesman says.

The interview dealing with terrorism and the Mideast appears in the March issue of the magazine, which also features articles on sex and the scantily clad March Penthouse Pet centerfold.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard sent a memo last week to all staff at U.N. headquarters in New York explaining that his office was ``surprised and dismayed″ to see an interview with the secretary-general given to the London-based al-Wasat magazine was published in Penthouse, as well _ and to discover that another interview given to the magazine several years ago had also been published in Penthouse.

Eckhard said the journalist for al-Wasat, Russell Warren Howe, apparently allowed the articles to be published in Penthouse, claiming ``he has full legal rights to sell this interview to anyone and everyone.″

If the United Nations knew the interview would appear in Penthouse, ``we would have said no,″ the U.N. spokesman said.

``Needless to say, we will no longer have any dealings with this journalist,″ Eckhard said.

Eckhard said that Howe didn’t speak directly to the secretary-general. For the first interview, he was given answers to questions he submitted in writing. For the latest, he spoke to Annan’s communications director Edward Mortimer.

``I certainly didn’t fabricate anything,″ Howe was quoted as saying in Monday’s Daily News from London. ``Eckhard suggested that, to save time, I do a voice interview with Edward Mortimer, whose responses could be attributed to Mr. Annan.″

Efforts to reach Howe in London were unsuccessful.

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