UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. expert on Palestinian human rights who suggested there was a cover-up over the September 11 attacks should be fired, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Tuesday.
U.S. academic Richard Falk wrote in a blog this month that there had been an "apparent cover-up" by U.S. authorities over the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which hijackers flew airliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, killing more than 3,000 people.
"In my view, Mr. Falk's latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the U.N.," Rice said in a statement.
"I would note that U.S. and many other diplomats walked out in protest in September 2010 when Iranian President Ahmadinejad made similarly slanderous remarks before the U.N. General Assembly," she said, adding that Falk's comments were "despicable and deeply offensive."
Falk, the U.N. Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, wrote in his blog that mainstream media had refused to accept "well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials."
In a letter to Ban last Thursday, UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group affiliated with the American Jewish Committee, called on the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to "strongly condemn Mr. Falk's offensive remarks -- and ... immediately remove him from his post."
UN Watch frequently criticizes the human rights council, saying it often berates Israel while ignoring rights violations by developing countries. It has targeted Falk in the past.
Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar said on Monday that the secretary-general condemned the remarks but said it was not up to Ban to fire Falk, since he was appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, a 47-nation body created by the U.N. General Assembly in 2006.
Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by David Storey