Maria Ressa, an award-winning Philippine journalist, has been freed on bail following an arrest that prompted international condemnation and allegations she is being targeted over her news platform’s criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The 55-year-old editor of the Rappler website spent the night in detention at the National Bureau of Investigation in the capital, Manila, after being arrested late on Wednesday on a “cyber libel” charge that carries a 12-year prison sentence.
Ressa and the site she heads, known for its tough scrutiny of Duterte’s administration and his controversial crackdown on illicit drugs that has killed thousands of people, have both been previously hit with separate tax evasion charges.
“It’s about two things: abuse of power and weaponisation of the law,” an emotional Ressa told journalists on Thursday as she stepped out of a Manila court where she paid 100,000 pesos ($1,900), the sixth time she has posted bail to avoid detention.
“What we are seeing is death by a thousand cuts to our democracy,” added Ressa, who was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for her journalism.
More to follow…