writing PR for a dictator
black arts merchant has revealed herself on Twitter aiding
dictator Voreqe Baininimara.
Jeon is the new woman behind
’s PR, supplanting the ranting Sharon Smith Johns of Australia.
revealed here first,
signed a secret US$440,000 deal in August with Qorvis to clean up and improve
the tattered Bainimarama image in the
date, the sum total has been new Twitter accounts for Bainimarama and his side
kick attorney general. Now, it seems, these tweets are not the thoughts of the
two men at all, but those of Tina Jeon.
has been tweeting about here time in
, including travelling with Bainimarama to open a Chinese bauxite mine.
tweet comes with a photo of a woman – presumably Jeon – sitting beside
Bainimarama using an iphone to send something (Jeon's Tweet photos above). The
caption reads: "No better place to write a press release.. #
journalist Anna Lenzer, writing in the Huffington
Post, has written a devastating piece on
and Qorvis. Read Anna Lenzer's
piece at the Huffington Post:
hires Washington black arts company
military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama has hired a powerful Washington lobby
firm that specialises cleaning up the international image of non-democratic
regimes around the world, including those accused of extensive human rights
Communications are charging US$40,000 (NZ$51,000) a month, plus expenses, on a
one year contract signed by Fiji’s military controlled attorney general,
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on October 5.
specialises in putting a spin on dictators like those of Tunisia and Egypt who
resisted Arab Spring. And when Bahrain’s rulers violently crushed an
uprising and attacked hospitals, Qorvis issued press statements condemning
Medecins San Frontieres when its doctors treated dissidents.
pays Qorvis the same monthly rate Fiji is now on.
Washington spin-doctors is a well-walked road for dictators who work on their
image in Washington and at the United Nations in New York, rather than make
any significant change in their homeland.
who seized power in a military coup in 2006, claims he will allow democratic
elections in 2014 but he has already made it clear that politicians he
overthrew will not be allowed back in. Bizarrely he has even said that if
elections are held, no political party will be allowed to issue a manifesto.
continues to rule Fiji under martial law which includes total media
chief censor and spokeswoman is an Australian mother of four, Sharon Smith
Johns, who was a former Fairfax Australia sales executive.
has been silent since October when she went to China to represent Fiji at a
seminar on media control in the developing world.
she nor Fiji’s Ministry of Information was responded to email requests for
public announcement has been made over the Fiji-Qorvis link, but this week the
Sunday Star-Times received a routine Fiji Government press statement
from Qorvis’ official Sol Levine. They are also posting statements on
Washington’s PR Newswire.
than the sender’s email address, the only clue that things have changed is
in the signature: “This is distributed by Qorvis
Communications, LLC on behalf of the government of Fiji. Additional
information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.”
has a unit called “GeoPolitical Solutions” and until earlier this week it
had a Facebook page which showed an amateur photo taken last month of a ferry
boat at a Vanua Levu jetty.
we “Liked” the photo, a Qorvis official, Matt Lauer, sought to befriend in
his link was used to seek confirmation over their new Fiji role, the QorvisGPS
Facebook site was sanitized, the picture removed and access limited.
US Federal law companies like Qorvis have to register their foreign clients
with the US Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act 1938.
Fiji link was not registered earlier this week but after both Lauer and Levine
were asked, the Fiji registration appeared on the registry
on Friday morning (NZT).
says in the registration it “will provide public relations services relating
to business and investment to the government of Fiji”.
filed is a three page letter from Qorvis partner Michael Petruzzello to Sayed-Khaiyum
which says the contract began on October 6 and urging monthly payments.
is of the essence for the payment obligations,” Petruzzello says, laying out
penalty interest for late payment.
we have issued material to the news media or to another third party, its use
is no longer under our control,” the letter says.
cannot assure the use of news material by any news organization. Similarly, we
cannot control the form or manner of use by the news media…”
say they will not prepare any publicity that is untrue, indecent, libellous,
unlawful “or otherwise prejudicial to your interests or ours.”
who is looking after Fiji’s affairs at Qorvis, is a former producer for CNN
and Aljazeera English. He also acts for the Kurdistan Regional Government and
of their GPS unit lists his clients as Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sri
Lanka, Mexico, Kurdistan, Cyprus and Equatorial Guinea.
is well-known in Washington for its lobbying work for non-democratic states.
came to prominence they signed a US$14 million a year contract to gloss over
Saudi Arabia’s image after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
US journal Foreign Policy last year ran an investigation into Qorvis’
contract with Equatorial Guinea’s dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,
who has one of the worst human rights records in the world.
government hired Qorvis for US$55,000 per month.
then, Qorvis has emailed scores of press releases highlighting all manner of
good deeds by the Obiang government: funding a program for maternal health,
supporting animal conservation, congratulating an Equatorial Guinean native
who was voted best high school teacher in Michigan, and perhaps most
importantly, signing a $250 million contract with an American security
company,” Foreign Policy reported.
Mayorga, who represents Equatorial Guinea for Qorvis, conceded that he faced a
major challenge in promoting the country's case.
are a million things working against them, but Equatorial Guinea wants a
voice, they want a seat at the table. They feel their country's been
misrepresented and they want to fix it," Mayorga told Foreign Policy.
only way to go about that is to demonstrate that progress and development is
taking place there today. And they have not communicated that in the
also acts for the Palestine Liberation Organisation controlled Palestinian
recent Huffington Post article claimed more than a third of the
partners at Qorvis had quit because of the kind of clients they were acting
just have trouble working with despotic dictators killing their own
people," a former Qorvis was quoted saying.
don't want to be seen representing all these countries -- you take a look at
the State Department's list of human rights violators and some of our clients
were on there."
GPS, headed by Lauer, says it is about “finding creative solutions to
complicated situations to help corporations, countries and high net worth
individuals manage their worldwide reputations and develop new opportunities
for future generations of citizens, shareholders, and progeny”.
is known to create fake blogs and websites that link back to positive content,
"to make sure that no one online comes across the bad stuff," says
the former insider. “Other techniques include the use of social media,
including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter."
the Qorvis website Lauer says: “I do not want the world. I just want to