In yet another blow to press freedom in the Philippines, prominent journalist Maria Ressa, executive editor of the hugely popular news site Rappler, has been found guilty of cyber libel and now faces prison.
Ressa denies the charges and has vowed to fight what she says is a politically-motivated effort to silence independent journalism by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government. Rights groups have roundly criticised the case, with Amnesty International calling it “a sham”.
The government rejects the charge that it is trying to silence Ressa and Rappler. Spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte “supports free speech and a free press” and this is “simply a case of “bad journalism.”
“We are meant to be a cautionary tale,” the former CNN correspondent warned the Philippine media in a news conference after the verdict. “We are meant to make you afraid. But don’t be afraid. Because if you don’t use your rights, you will lose them.” (📹: Al Jazeera)