Business Standard

Philippines arrests news site Rappler's head for 'libel'

IANS  |  Manila 

Maria Ressa, a high-profile and vocal critic of Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested on Wednesday in connection with "cyber libel" charges against her news website

said the charges were over an article it published in 2012. Ressa was indicted in relation to that case last week which was slammed by as "yet another absurd legal attack" that amounted to "harassment".

Ressa, the of and a 2018 Time Person of the Year, called the accusation an attempt by to silence the publication, reported.

She was formally arrested at in after being served an arrest warrant by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officers. Footage streamed on showed plainclothes officials speaking to the journalist, while several of the site's journalists live-streamed on and what was happening.

They were reportedly asked by the NBI to stop filming and taking photos.

Ressa has been indicted multiple times on libel and tax evasion charges described by critics as politically motivated and designed to silence independent media in the country.

According to reports, the latest charge against the stemmed from a May 2012 report on a businessman's alleged ties to a former in the Philippines' top court.

The case comes under a controversial "cyber-libel" law, which came into force in September 2012, four months after the article in question was published.

Officials first filed the case against Ressa in 2017, but it was dismissed by the NBI because the one-year limit for bringing libel cases had lapsed. However, in March 2018, the NBI reopened the case.

The news website has reported extensively on Duterte's brutal war on drugs which earned praise from human rights advocates. But it made the site and its journalists a target of supporters of the administration.

Duterte's office denied the President's involvement in the prosecutions against Rappler, but he previously sparred with the company's employees that led to him banning Ressa and from Malacanang Palace, his official residence, over their coverage of his administration.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 18:02 IST