#HoldTheLine Coalition Welcomes Reprieve For Maria Ressa, Demands All Other Charges and Cases Be Dropped

The #HoldTheLine Coalition welcomes a Manila court’s decision to dismiss the second criminal cyberlibel charge brought against celebrated American-Filipino journalist Maria Ressa but demands the immediate withdrawal of all other charges and cases filed against Ressa and her news website Rappler.

Judge Andres Soriano of the Manila Regional Trial Court dismissed the case ‘with prejudice’ today after the plaintiff - controversial businessman Wilfredo Keng - withdrew his complaint, rendering the State’s case against Ressa futile.

In petitioning the court to withdraw his claim, Keng’s legal team stated: "Upon careful reflection, the private complainant has decided to redirect his focus towards helping out with the pandemic, instead of being preoccupied with the prosecution of this case."

The HTL Coalition welcomes this pivot and strongly urges President Duterte and his administration to follow suit, and drop all eight remaining cases and charges against Ressa that are still being prosecuted by the State.

“The Duterte government should end its campaign of harassment and persecution against Maria Ressa and Rappler immediately, and cease prosecuting the journalist and her news outlet for their public interest journalism,” the HTL Steering Committee said.

Ressa was sentenced to a maximum of six years in jail in June 2020 after being convicted on a trumped-up ‘cyberlibel’ charge prosecuted by the State. That case was based on a complaint made by Wilfredo Keng in connection with Rappler’s reporting on his business activities. Ressa is in the process of appealing that conviction.

The State began prosecuting a second criminal cyberlibel charge against Ressa in late 2020 based on Keng’s second complaint. That complaint - the one that has just been dismissed - pertained to a tweet Ressa posted containing two screen grabs of another news outlet’s coverage of Keng’s activities. 

Ressa still faces the prospect of decades in jail associated with the lingering suite of cases and charges against her.

Contact #HoldTheLine Steering Committee Members for further details: Julie Posetti (jposetti@icfj.org); Rebecca Vincent (rvincent@rsf.org); Robert Mahoney (rmahoney@cpj.org). 

Note: The #HoldTheLine Coalition currently comprises 80 organizations. This statement is issued by the #HoldTheLine Steering Committee but it does not necessarily reflect the position of all or any individual Coalition members or organizations.

News Category

Latest News

Media Innovators and Intrepid Reporters Covering Global Hotspots Tapped for Prestigious International Journalism Awards

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) announced its annual Knight International Journalism Awards, recognizing excellent reporting that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world. The winners are a team of Ukrainian journalists whose searing images showed the world Russia’s brutal siege of Mariupol; an Afghan TV reporter whose investigations uncovered gross mismanagement of COVID-19 resources; and a media visionary who pioneered online reporting and exposed corruption in El Salvador.

Meet the Experts Partnering with Elevate, ICFJ’s News Business Hub

Elevate, ICFJ’s news business hub, kicked off this month with a powerful set of implementing partners. The group of business leaders will focus on teaching 18 news media outlets chosen to participate in the program’s first cohort the most important skills to overcome their financial and operational challenges.

How to Address Journalism’s Funding Crisis

A new UNESCO policy brief led by ICFJ calls for urgent action to address the news media viability crisis. The authors, including ICFJ’s Deputy Vice President of Global Research Dr. Julie Posetti and Columbia University’s Dr. Anya Schiffrin, review how news organizations, online platforms, governments and other stakeholders have responded to the funding challenges facing journalism, and offer recommendations to help independent media thrive.