83 years in jail for Filipino journalist Maria Ressa?

27-Feb-2020 Intellasia | GulfNews | 6:02 AM Print This Post

* FOUNDER OF RAPPLER: Maria Ressa, 56, one of the founders of Rappler, a Manila-based online news platform, has become an icon of fearless reporting, battle against fake news and “patriotic trolls”. She faces up to 83 years in jail several cases are lodged against her, mostly relating to Rappler and the extensive and unflattering reports on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly narcotics crackdown that has claimed thousands of lives and which rights groups say may be a crime against humanity. * EDUCATION, FIRST JOB: Maria Ressa completed her BA degree in English from Princeton University, where she graduated ‘magna cum laude’. A dual national, she completed her Master’s at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Ressa’s first job was at CNN, where she worked for nearly two decades, serving as Manila bureau chief from 1988 to 1995 and as Jakarta bureau chief from 1995 to 2005. She currently faces other prosecutions, for allegations ranging from tax offences to foreign ownership. She has been arrested and bailed eight times in the past year. Maria Ressa has assembled a defence team, including the London-based celebrity lawyer Amal Clooney. If found guilty on all counts, she faces up to 83 years in prison.

* 83 YEARS IN JAIL? Maria A. Ressa, a Filipino journalist and author, is best known for co-founding Manila news site Rappler. Ressa was born in Manila and grew up there until the age of 9, when her parents relocated to Toms River, New Jersey. On April 3, 2020 Maria Ressa will learn the outcome of a libel trial brought against her. If she loses, the sentence is a maximum of 12 years: in the Philippines, defamation remains a criminal offence.

* CRIMINAL CHARGES: Maria Ressa and her Rappler site have been hit with a string of criminal charges in recent months. Rappler has found millions of false social media accounts spreading fake news linked originally to the 2016, the election year in the Philippines. Charges against her she been charged and bailed 8 times in the last 4 years prompted allegations she and her team are being targeted for their work.

* Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler, shows documents after posting bail at the Pasig Regional Trial Court in metropolitan Manila, Philippines, Monday, December 3, 2018.

* CHARGES AGAINST MARIA RESSA: The charges against her in 2019 allege that she and colleagues at Rappler violated rules on foreign ownership of media. She was taken into custody after arriving at Manila’s airport from a trip abroad on March 29, 2019. “The press in this country is under attack… We won’t take the threat sitting down,” Ressa told reporters after her release on the equivalent of $1,700 bail. https://bit.ly/2PnqBaY

* SHE HAS POWERFUL ENEMIES: Maria Ressa’s marching orders for the Rappler team is to expose corruption, propaganda and thousands of possible extrajudicial killings sanctioned by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in the latter’s self-declared “war on drugs”. This has made Ressa some powerful enemies. But she’s undaunted and her determination to speak has also won her many allies.

* CROSSING PATHS WITH DUTERTE: Maria Ressa interviews Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (on October 26, 2015). They have been crossing paths for over 30 years. She first interviewed him in the 1980s when he was Mayor of Davao. In 2015, during his election campaign, she conducted a now infamous interview with Duterte, in which he confessed to killing three people.

* TEMPORARY FREEDOM: Maria Ressa, centre, talks to the media after posting bail in the Philippines. The Rappler editor turned herself in to face one tax evasion charge, but could still face arrest on four other counts that she insists were crafted to bring the site to heel. Threatened with prison and closure of the news site she co-founded, Ressa said there is one clear response to the government onslaught she faces: fight back.

* SEPTEMBER 23, 2018: Maria Ressa’s Instagram post in September 2018: “From selfies to a conversation for the soul… France’s President Emmanuel Macron listened and actively incorporated ideas presented by the members of the Information & Democracy Commission into his thinking. Rare to see a real conversation at this level.”

* RESSA WRITES ABOUT MACRON: “(French President Emmanuel) Macron is analytical, forthright and committed to solving the problem of disinformation and information warfare. Thanks to Palace photographer Philippe Servent for getting our selfie and to Yann Stofer for the table and introductions. Looking forward to working on this RSF-initiated effort!”

* PATRIOTIC TROLLING: Maria Ressa with Camille Francois, who coined the term “patriotic trolling.” Ressa wrote about Francois: “Working with her has taught me so much in the intersection of technology, human rights, and gender equality.” Francois was a fellow in New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative. Her research focuses on the notion of cyber peace, human rights, cybersecurity and cyber operations. Francois is also principal researcher at Jigsaw, a think tank and technology incubator within Google/Alphabet.

* A ‘PETRI DISH FOR MASS MANIPULATION’?: At the centre for Media at Risk, Maria Ressa, who started as BS Biology student at Princeton, argued that the Philippines was the “petri dish” for the testing of mass manipulation. If it worked, they then “ported it” to western countries.

* WITH LAWYERS: Maria Ressa in court with his lawyers, including Francis Lim, the former president of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

* DEFENDER: London-based lawyer Amal Clooney has said she will join the legal team defending Philippines journalist Maria Ressa, whose news site has repeatedly clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte.

* TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR: Maria Ressa has become an icon in the fight for press freedom. In 2018, she was named a “Time Magazine Person of the Year” for her journalism. They are called “The Guardians”. The others lauded by the US magazine were at that point either dead or in detention. Ressa knows that, with each passing day, she could fall on either side.

* INTERVIEW: Malacanang Palace, Manila, waiting for President Duterte. “Watching ongoing interview while waiting for President Duterte,” she posted on Instragam December 29, 2016. Ressa has taught courses in politics and the press in Southeast Asia for her alma mater, Princeton University, and in broadcast journalism for the University of the Philippines. She is the author of two books: “Seeds of Terror” (2003), and “From Bin Laden to Facebook” (2013). In November 2017 she received the National Democratic Institute’s 2017 Democracy Award.

* With Facebook’s Marc Zuckerberg, April 23, 2017. “I loved the ambition of a brain interface that can type 100wpm, 5x faster than typing on a smartphone, but the highlight of #f82017 was spending time with Mark Zuckerberg and other startup founders making sense of our complicated world today. Thanks for the photo, @facebook!”



Category: Philippines

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