U.N. chief duped by prank call from fake Canadian PM

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:58pm EDT
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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A pair of Canadian radio comedians said on Thursday it took them less than an hour to get U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the phone during international diplomacy's busiest week - by pretending to be Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Ban was between meetings at the U.N. General Assembly of world leaders on Wednesday when he took a phone call from Quebec comedy duo "The Masked Avengers," famous for tricking celebrities and politicians.

The pair said in a statement that the impersonator of the prime minister, who is known for his helmet-like coiffure, apologized to Ban for not being able to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York because he was too busy combing his hair with super glue.

During the five-minute discussion, the pair also said they asked him to speak with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman to press for a Quebec City hockey team. It was at this point in the conversation - which switched between English and French - they said Ban realized he was being pranked.

Ban has more than 120 meetings with world leaders during the U.N. General Assembly this week and his spokesman described the prank call as not "the best use of his time."

"The Secretary-General quickly understood that it was a prank, and he took it in the way that it was intended, as a joke," Ban's spokesman said. "It's a busy time of year, and the Secretary-General has a considerable amount to do, so it wasn't the best use of his time, but these things happen."

The same radio duo, Sébastien Trudel and Marc-Antoine Audette of Montreal radio station CKOI-FM, also duped U.S. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin just days before the 2008 election by pretending to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy and convincing her to accept an invitation to hunt baby seals.

Their other victims have included U.S. business tycoon Donald Trump, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and rock stars Bono and Mick Jagger.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Eric Walsh)

(This story corrects to state that Ban was between meetings when he took call)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers his speech during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva September 10, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse