The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) is deeply concerned about the arrest in the Philippines of Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor of the news website Rappler.

Ms Ressa, a distinguished journalist who has worked in Asia for more than 30 years, was released on bail today after she and her organisation were charged with tax offences. She denies the allegations and has described them as ridiculous.

The charges have been widely condemned by media groups and human rights organisations and seen as part of ongoing attempts to intimidate and suppress Rappler, a respected website which has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Ms Ressa has won multiple awards for her work, including the 2018 Knight International Journalism Award and this year’s Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists.  SOPA was honoured to have her as our keynote speaker at the annual SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence in June, where she spoke with great passion about Rappler’s ongoing battle to operate in the face of threats and abuse.

SOPA condemns the arrest of Ms Ressa and calls on authorities in the Philippines to respect due process, protect press freedom and ensure that media organisations can operate safely.