Philippine journalist released on bail after arrest causes outcry | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

23 July, Tuesday


Philippine journalist released on bail after arrest causes outcry

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The head of a Philippine news website that has locked horns with President Rodrigo Duterte was freed on bail on Thursday, a day after her widely condemned arrest on libel charges that critics say is a government effort to bully journalists.

Maria Ressa, the award-winning head of news platform Rappler, was served a warrant live on television at her office on Wednesday for what media watchdogs said were trumped-up charges aimed at intimidating those who challenge Duterte’s rule.

“For me it’s about two things - abuse of power and weaponisation of the law,” Ressa said.

“You have to express outrage and do it now. Press freedom is not just about journalists, is not just about us, it’s not just about me, it’s not just about Rappler. Press freedom is the foundation of every single right of every Filipino to the truth,” she told reporters after posting bail.

Ressa is accused of cyber libel over a 2012 Rappler article, which was updated in 2014, that linked a Filipino businessman to murder, human trafficking and drug smuggling. Rappler cited information contained in a 2002 intelligence report but did not say which agency compiled it.

The businessman’s lawyer says the information was wrong and that the article was defamatory and that he wants to clear his name.

Duterte has made no secret of his annoyance at Rappler and has sparred frequently with its reporters, who are known for scrutinising his policies and his appointments and for questioning the accuracy of his sweeping, often bellicose statements.

Reuters

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