Meedan Holds the Line with Maria Ressa

Meedan condemns the arrest today of Rappler CEO and Meedan Board Member Maria Ressa. The arrest is a clear violation of press freedom and comes as part of years-long legal harassment as a result of her work as leader of an independent news organization in the Philippines. Maria has been internationally recognized for her contributions to journalism, including the 2018 Knight International Journalism Award, the 2018 WAN-IFRA Golden Pen of Freedom, and as a Time Person of the Year, 2018.

The arrest is in connection with a story published by Rappler in May 2012 — four months before the enactment of the law that Maria Ressa and researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr stand accused of violating, reported Rappler.

At around 5pm on Wednesday, NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] officers clad in civilian clothes went to the Rappler headquarters to serve the warrant of arrest. The arrest warrant was issued Tuesday, February 12, by Presiding Judge Rainelda Estacio Montesa of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported today that “The Philippine government’s legal harassment of Rappler and Ressa has now reached a critical and alarming juncture,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “We call on Filipino authorities to immediately release Ressa, drop this spurious cyber libel charge, and cease and desist this campaign of intimidation aimed at silencing Rappler.”

Today we are reminded of the words of the courageous Maria Ressa herself:

“You don’t really know who you are until you’re forced to fight to defend it.”
To the men and women of Rappler, this is your courage. You inspire me.
My heart breaks when I look at WHAT our young reporters have to live with — and the courage they show in the face of brute force and impunity … the respect they continue to show authorities, the nightmares they fight at night, the mission that lives inside them.
Finally, in the age of social media, this award goes beyond the journalists. It is for all Filipinos trying to hold the line — let me do a special shout-out to the men and women INSIDE government, because your choices will determine where our country goes.
This is for all the Filipinos who continue to fight for our values — to stand for the rule of law and to #DefendPressFreedom!
My name is Maria Ressa. We are Rappler, and we will hold the line.”
Maria Ressa Golden Pen of Freedom Acceptance Speech

At Meedan, we hold the line with Maria Ressa and affirm the statement made by Rappler on her arrest. We call for her immediate release, and extend our support to Maria and the whole Rappler team at this time.

“We are not intimidated. No amount of legal cases, black propaganda, and lies can silence Filipino journalists who continue to hold the line. These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail.” — Maria Ressa