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One of Time's People of the Year Just Got Arrested

Philippine journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is a prominent Duterte critic
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2019 8:53 AM CST
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa talks to the media in Manila, Philippines, on Jan. 22, 2018.   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

(Newser) – A high-profile journalist detained in the Philippines says President Rodrigo Duterte is trying to silence her. Maria Ressa, CEO of news site Rappler and a 2018 Time Person of the Year alongside Jamal Khashoggi, faces a cyber libel charge stemming from a 2012 article that linked a prominent businessman to a top judge during his impeachment trial, reports CNN. Rappler said she's "shocked that the rule of law has been broken to a point that I can't see it," after she was served an arrest warrant at Rappler's headquarters in Manila, reports the BBC. Reporters Without Borders labels her arrest "grotesque … judicial harassment." A reporter filming the scene said an officer "threatened that he will go after me if I don't stop recording" though "it's my job to put it on record."

The National Bureau of Investigation initially declined to charge Ressa because the cyber libel law was enacted four months after the article was published. But the Justice Department overturned that decision on the basis that the article was updated in 2014. The charges follow tax evasion claims laid against Rappler and Ressa late last year, which critics denounced as politically motivated. Per CNN, the site's extensive coverage of Duterte's war on drugs has made its journalists a target. Duterte even banned them from covering his official activities, per the BBC, though his office denies any involvement in prosecutions. "You violate tax laws and then you'll be prosecuted," a rep said at a Monday press conference. If convicted, Ressa could face more than a decade in prison. (Read more Philippines stories.)

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