Left Menu
Development News Edition

Arrest of Philippine journalist critical of govt sparks outrage among rights groups


Arrest of Philippine journalist critical of govt sparks outrage among rights groups
Duterte has openly lambasted journalists who write unfavourable stories about him. Image Credit: Wikimedia

The award-winning head of a Philippine online news site that has aggressively covered President Rodrigo Duterte's administration was arrested Wednesday by government agents in a libel case. Maria Ressa, who was selected by Time magazine as one of its Persons of the Year last year, was arrested over a libel complaint from a businessman which Amnesty International condemned as "brazenly politically motivated." Duterte's government said the arrest was a normal step in response to the complaint.

Duterte has openly lambasted journalists who write unfavourable stories about him, including his anti-drug campaign that has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead. Rappler Inc, the news site which Ressa heads, said National Bureau of Investigation agents served the warrant late Wednesday afternoon, making it difficult for Ressa to apply for bail, and escorted her from the Rappler office to NBI headquarters.

"We are not intimidated. No amount of legal cases, black propaganda, and lies can silence Filipino journalists who continue to hold the line," Ressa said in a statement. "These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail." Ressa and a former Rappler researcher, Reynaldo Santos Jr, were indicted recently, the Department of Justice said.

Rappler said the businessman filed the libel complaint five years after the article appeared in 2012, and the law under which Ressa was charged by the government, the Cybercrime Prevention Act, did not go into effect until months after the article's publication. The article included allegations that the businessman was linked to illegal drugs and human trafficking, and that a car registered in his name had been used by the country's chief justice.

Amnesty International Philippines said Ressa's arrest was based on a "trumped-up libel charge." "This is brazenly politically motivated, and consistent with the authorities' threats and repeated targeting of Ressa and her team," it said. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the arrest was "merely part of any criminal procedure." Duterte's spokesman said the charge against Ressa was based on facts which she should simply answer and had "nothing to do" with press freedom.

Rappler is one of several news agencies deemed critical of Duterte's policies. Duterte had already banned a Rappler reporter from his news briefings after the government's corporate watchdog found that the news site violated a constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of media when it received money from an international investment firm. Rappler, founded in 2012, rejected the ruling.

Ressa has also posted bail on tax evasion charges which she denies and says were politically motivated. The International Press Institute, a global network of media personnel, strongly condemned Ressa's detention.

(With inputs from agencies.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

From home to healthcare, here are Robotic innovations transforming lives

Lovot is equipped with more than 50 sensors such as thermography, microphone array, obstacle detection, and touch sensor to generate motion and emotions in real-time....

Translating words to deeds: Achieving gender parity in access to financial resources

... ...

SDG13: How you can reduce global warming by changing your food habits

The mega narratives of various international organizations give the impression that fighting global warming is only a job of government agencies. However, the European Investment Bank EIB has designed a questionnaire which besides making th...

SDG2030: Challenges of technological applications in advancing Global Goals

Application of contemporary and future information technologies may go milestones in advancing sustainable development goals SDGs provided the challenges are overcome and implementation is ensured....

Videos

Latest News

Hawaii man suspected of killing 2 cops described as unhinged

Honolulu, Jan 20 AP A Hawaii handyman with a history of run-ins with police and neighbours faced eviction when he stabbed his landlord and killed two officers before the house he and two women were believed to be inside burned, authorities ...

Sports News Roundup: Barty romps through after stuttering start; Warriors eye March 1 for Curry return and more

Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.Its all good Barty romps through after stuttering startWorld number one Ash Barty made a stuttering start to her bid to end her countrys long wait for a homegrown Australian Open champion...

Federal Bank posts 32pc rise in Q3 Net on lower provisions

Federal Bank on Monday posted a 32 per cent growth in its December quarter net profit to Rs 440 crore, helped by a reduction in provisions for bad assets. The bank said its credit provisions were lower for October-December because of standa...

UPDATE 2-FTSE slips on BoE bets and Brexit fears; Fevertree slides

Recurring fears of a hard Brexit and bets that the Bank of England will cut interest rates hit Londons FTSE 100 on Monday, while premium tonic water maker Fevertree endured its worst day ever.The main index, which hit a near six-month high ...

Give Feedback