SOPA condemns cyber libel conviction of Rappler’s Maria Ressa

The Society of Publishers in Asia denounces today’s conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former journalist Reynaldo Santos for cyber libel by Philippine courts.

Ressa has been a prominent and relentless critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs which has reportedly to the extrajudicial killings of an estimated tens of thousands of Filipinos.

This verdict appears to be politically motivated payback for Ressa’s and Rappler’s dogged reporting.

The fact that the article in question was published before the relevant cyber libel law existed, then deemed to be  “re-published” when a typo was corrected, demonstrates how weak and absurd the case against Ressa and Santos actually is.

Ressa has been outspoken in her global advocacy of quality journalism and criticism of enemies of free press.

She was named Time’s Person of the Year in 2018, along with several under siege journalists from around the world, and was keynote speaker at our SOPA Awards the same year, where she warned of the dangers of online misinformation, troll armies, and the spread of radicalization through social media platforms.

This is the latest blow for press freedom in the Philippines in the wake of the government’s order that ABS-CBN stop broadcasting in May.

The Society of Publishers in Asia urges the Philippine government to drop the charges against Ressa and Santos, and to allow Rappler to continue reporting free from legal harassment.