Filipino journalist and dissident Maria Ressa was sentenced for online defamation


Filipino journalist and dissident Maria Ressa was convicted of defamation online by a Manila court. Ressa, one of the most critical journalists towards Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, was sentenced along with another journalist on the site Rappler, Reynaldo Santos Jr. The two were released on bail pending the appeal process, but face up to six years in prison.

Ressa is 56 years old and is one of the most well-known and authoritative journalists in the Philippines. For twenty years he has worked as an investigative journalist and foreign correspondent for American TV CNN. Then he headed the news division of ABS-CBN, the main news TV channel of the Philippines. In 2012 he founded Rappler together with three other journalists, and at the end of 2018 the American magazine Time he put her among the people of the year, included in a group of journalists threatened for their work.

– Also read: Journalists against Rodrigo Duterte

Ressa has been arrested several times because of her investigations, and so far she has never been sentenced. In February 2019 she was arrested and released on bail on charges of defamation online, due to a 2012 journalistic investigation in which Rappler he had told of the involvement of a wealthy businessman, Wilfredo Keng, in drug and human trafficking, and his relationship with a judge who was then a member of the highest court in the Philippines.

The Duterte government approved an online defamation law four months after Ressa’s investigation was published: however, according to the prosecution, the article may have been subject to the new law, given that in 2014 it had been updated to correct a typo. In his verdict, the judge said that in the article Ressa had not shown evidence of his accusations against Keng, adding that press freedom “cannot be used as a protection” against the defamation crime. Ressa commented on the sentence saying: ¬ęTo all Filipinos, this is not just about Rappler, concerns each of us. Freedom of the press is the foundation of every single right you have as Filipino citizens. ”

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