WIPO Boss Accused Of Surreptitiously Collecting DNA Samples From WIPO Employees

from the paranoid-much? dept

Francis Gurry, the head of the World Intellectual Property Organization, seems to be running from scandal to scandal these days. While it has shown brief moments of enlightenment, for the most part, WIPO tends to be an organization very supportive of the copyright and patent maximalist agenda. Last year, we wrote about two incredible scandals that directly involved Gurry. Despite WIPO being a part of the UN, Gurry apparently defied UN sanctions against both North Korea and Iran to give them computers, in the wacky belief that those countries would use the computers to bolster their local patent system. Gurry, apparently blind to the fact that North Korea, especially, was desperately seeking computing power for its nuclear program and had very little concern or need for a patent program, seemed to think that this was a good idea, and even defended the decision, though he agreed to kill the program.

The latest, however, involves a few more crazy scandals, including accused attempts to sneakily set up WIPO offices in both Russia and China and (even more bizarre) trying to surreptitiously collect DNA samples on employees he was convinced were sending anonymous letters. First, the DNA situation:
Among them, an embarrassing case involving DNA sampling. Prior to his election, Francis Gurry had been the target of anonymous letters. Convinced that the letters’ authors were among those within his entourage, the successor of Kamil Idris filed a complaint with the prosecutor in Geneva in October 2007 and surprisingly authorized the police to enter WIPO’s premises to take statements and DNA samples. But the suspected employees later discovered that additional samples had been taken from their offices without their consent and thus illegally. On November 13, an ex-employee – who was made redundant after a corruption allegation of which he has since been cleared – filed a criminal complaint for “slander” with the prosecutor of Geneva. His lawyer sent a letter to the representatives of the Member States informing them that this procedure would require them to vote to lift Francis Gurry’s diplomatic immunity.
Given all of this, many are questioning why Gurry should be allowed to stay in charge of WIPO. A bunch of Congressional Representatives had raised some concerns about Gurry about a month ago, but with this latest story, they've sent another letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing their serious concerns about allowing Gurry to continue to lead WIPO:
As you may recall, concerns were expressed following reports that Mr. Gurry was running a secret program to ship high-end computers and other electronic gear to North Korea and Iran. When called to account, he claimed that U.S. law did not constrain him, and he refused to cooperate with an investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Since the time of that letter, the situation at WIPO has substantially deteriorated. As you know, the recent annual meeting of Member States collapsed due to the revelation of secret agreements made by Gurry to open satellite WIPO offices in China and Russia -- we understand that he even proposed opening an office in Tehran.

But even more disturbing, we understand Gurry is involved in a scheme to illegally acquire DNA samples of WIPO employees in a failed effort to develop evidence to support a personal complaint that he had filed with the Swiss authorities. There is also concern that he has been working since to suppress this information and to prevent any independent investigation of it.
Yikes. It would seem that WIPO is quite a disaster currently. That's not to say that a new leader would necessarily be any better, but it would appear that the series of scandals around Gurry, many of which include incredibly serious charges, raises all sorts of questions about WIPO under his leadership.

Filed Under: francis gurry, scandals, un, wipo


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  1. identicon
    bikey, 23 Nov 2013 @ 3:18am

    Before we totally bad mouth WIPO for the actions of its loony leader, let's remember that WIPO has always been the voice of developing countries. The reason WTO got its intellectual property gig (TRIPs) was that the US felt WIPO was both too democratic (i.e. they couldn't control it) and too developing-country rights oriented. This has little to do with 'America' except for its ill-advised appointment.

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