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OPC Condemns Arrest of Maria Ressa
NEW YORK, February 13, 2019—The Overseas Press Club of America condemns the Feb. 13 arrest of journalist Maria Ressa by Filipino authorities on cyber libel charges. The OPC demands that the government release her immediately and end its longstanding campaign of intimidation and harassment against Ressa and Rappler, the online news site that she founded.
Ressa was taken into custody by the National Bureau of Investigation over charges filed by the Philippine Department of Justice. It involves a May 2012 story about the drug trade and human trafficking, which was written four months before the government enacted the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Human rights groups and journalist organizations denounced the arrest in worldwide reaction, including the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) who called it “a shameless act of persecution by a bully government.
“This government, led by a man who has proven averse to criticism and dissent, now proves it will go to ridiculous lengths to forcibly silence a critical media and stifle free expression and thought,” the NUJP said.
In its statement, Rappler said, “This is a dangerous precedent that puts anyone – not just the media – who publishes anything online perennially in danger of being charged with libel. It can be an effective tool of harassment and intimidation to silence critical reporting on the part of the media. No one is safe.”
The Overseas Press Club is an international association of journalists based in New York City that works to encourage the highest standards in journalism, to educate the next generation of foreign correspondents and to promote international press freedom and the well-being of colleagues in the field.