Update: Maria Ressa Released on Bail in the Philippines

Ressa, ICFJ's 2018 Knight Award winner, called the latest case against her "political" and vowed not to back down.

Updated Feb. 14: After spending the night in detention, Ressa was released today, telling reporters at a Manila court that it was the sixth time in two months she had posted bail. Ressa wrote on Twitter: "Finally out. Thank you for your support! #Holdtheline."

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) calls on Philippine authorities to immediately free Maria Ressa, founder of the independent news site Rappler, and to drop all charges against her.

Officers with the National Bureau of Investigation on Feb. 13 arrested Ressa, winner of ICFJ’s 2018 Knight International Journalism Award, at her newsroom in Manila, according to Rappler.

The arrest stems from a cyber libel case against her involving a 2012 story about a local businessman, Rappler reported. It is the latest legal attack against the veteran journalist and her team, who also face several tax cases in court.

“We are outraged over Maria’s arrest,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. “Journalism is not a crime. Philippine authorities should release Maria immediately."

A judge rejected attempts by Ressa’s lawyers to process bail on Wednesday evening, forcing her to spend the night in jail, according to news reports.

Before her arrest, Ressa told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that the cyber libel charge was “political” and that “the law is being weaponized in an attempt to control the public narrative.”

“We will not be intimidated and will continue to shine the light on actions of impunity,” she said.

Rappler’s hard-hitting reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s disinformation campaigns and extrajudicial killings have made Rappler and Ressa targets of legal attacks. Journalists and other supporters have come to the defense of the veteran reporter, who was CNN’s bureau chief in Manila and later Jakarta before going on to found Rappler in 2012.

In December, TIME named Ressa its 2018 Person of the Year, along with a group of other embattled journalists that included former Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

News Category

Latest News

Reporting on Early Childhood Issues Is Prompting Better Health Policies Worldwide

Reporters with the year-long Early Childhood Development Reporting Fellowship, an International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) program, have produced nearly 700 stories since March 2017 that have been viewed more than 15 million times. The health journalists, who are from Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, are building their expertise thanks to seasoned mentors, international reporting trips and virtual trainings.

Three Key Strategies for Combating Disinformation

Looking for innovative solutions to fight the scourge of disinformation? Our ICFJ Fellows have come up with three strategies.

Bloomberg News Founder Says It’s Vital to Spot “Signals in the Noise” When Covering Markets

Journalists who get closest to events as they are unfolding are the ones who can spot “the signal in the noise” and truly understand the behavior of markets, companies and governments, said Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief emeritus of Bloomberg News and a vice chair of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).