Joe Russo / Invision / AP
Award-winning journalist Maria Ressa was arrested Wednesday at the headquarters of Rappler, the news magazine she runs in the Philippines. This is the recent flooding of legal attacks by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte on journalists.
Ressa, 55, is a former boss of the CNN office. She was among four journalists, including the murdered Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was named by Time Magazine As a person of the year for 2018. Since the founding of Rappler in 2012, Ressa is not afraid to criticize the government for investigating the news site's impunity and corruption.
Civil servant of the National Bureau of Investigation, an authority of the Ministry of Justice, Arrival at Rappler's office in Manila around 5pm. Local time. Since the prosecution fulfilled the arrest warrant, Employees were informed stop taking pictures and videos. "We'll follow you, too," an officer told reporters. according to to Rappler.
Ressa was charged by the Philippine Department of Justice for cyber-slander.
"This legal acrobatics shows just how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the cockiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail," Ressa said in a statement.
The indictment goes back to a story published in May 2012, a few months before the adoption of the Law on Cybercrime Prevention in September.
Years after the article appeared, a businessman named Wilfredo Keng complained that the report linked him to trafficking and drug trafficking. He said that Rappler updated his article in 2014 that he fell within the scope of the law.
On Wednesday, presiding judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa denied the release of Ressa.
The arrest of Ressa does not point to the suppression of the press, said the president's spokesman Salvador Panelo, the local media. "It has nothing to do with freedom of expression and freedom of the press," he said, adding, "I think I'd rather advise Maria Ressa to focus only on her defense."
Since launching Rappler seven years ago with fellow high profile journalists, Ressa has become known for his thorough research into extrajudicial killings in the fight against drug abuse.
In the midst of a crackdown on the media, the president has repeatedly targeted Rappler and accused the business of producing "false news".
The staff also described professional hurdles and threats.
Gemma Mendoza, head of Rapplers research and strategy, said the site's comment panels and reporters' social media accounts are being bombarded by allegations of "presstitute". The reporter Pia Ranada was harassed and was not allowed to obscure the presidential palace. Multimedia director Lilibeth Frondoso was arrested with her newborn child. Editor-in-chief Glenda Gloria found a black mourning wreath on her doorstep.
In December, Ressa was arrested for a tax violation. She had just flown to the Philippines after receiving prestigious journalist awards in the United States.
The Project Journalists Committee described Ressa's recent arrest as a "legal harassment" that has reached a critical point. "We urge the Philippine authorities to release Ressa immediately, to drop this spurious cyber libel suit and to stop and end the campaign of intimidation that is being silenced Rappler"Said the senior representative of the Southeast Asian region, Shawn Crispin.
Steven Butler, Coordinator of the Asia Program, told NPR that Rappler has spent a large sum every month to pay attorneys for the lawsuits. "Like any digital media business, it's not highly profitable," he says. "Well, if you clap on those complaints, just bleed them."
The CPJ and the Omidyar Network had established a legal defense fund with a target of half a million dollars available for Rappler.
The arrest of Ressa also threatens to increase self-censorship in the Philippines, says Butler. "This is a no-go area for the rest of the media on stories that are extremely critical or embarrassing for the government."
After Ressa was arrested, a rally formed outside the National Bureau of Investigation. People sung "defends the freedom of the press" and "the free Maria Ressa".