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CALL FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF MARIA RESSA AND PUT A HALT TO THE ATTACK AGAINST JOURNALIST AND MEDIA FREEDOM

 

February 14, 2019

 

Seoul, Korea – Maria Ressa, Executive Editor and CEO of Rappler, an independent media outlet in the Philippines, was arrested on Thursday afternoon on February 13 at Rappler Headquarters in Pasig, Philippines on charges of cyber libel and alleged violation of the cybercrime law. Rappler took the lead in reporting a detailed investigation of the extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs. According to reports, Ressa’s alleged cyber libel charges were filed because of her role as editor of the critical story of the connection between the former Chief Justice Renato Corona and businessman Wilfredo Keng, who is allegedly tied to crimes such as human trafficking and drug smuggling. Keng filed the cyber libel complaint against Maria Ressa and other board members of Rappler for publishing the story in January 2018. Maria Ressa and Rappler have constantly faced legal harassment and threats for being critical of the administration and all those connected.

The Asia Democracy Network expresses its concern of the Philippines government’s disregard for the fundamental Right to Freedom of Expression and the protection of Media Freedom, which are essential for a sound democracy. Arresting a journalist for investigating a case and reporting a critical view is an outrageous attempt by the Philippines government to silence unfavorable media outlets and resorting to legal attacks to quell the critics.  These actions are grave infringements to the basis of democracy.

The Asia Democracy Network calls for the immediate release of Maria Ressa, as well as an end to the crackdown of journalists in the Philippines. ADN demands the Philippines government to halt all legal attacks against journalists threatening press freedom and immediately release Maria Ressa. ADN stands in solidarity with Maria Ressa and all journalists who are arrested and imprisoned for expressing their views by exercising their rights to the freedom of speech and protecting media freedom.

 

Asia Democracy Network