Trial to Open for Philippine Journalist Critical of Duterte
High-profile Philippine journalist Maria Ressa's libel trial opens Tuesday in a case that press freedom advocates see as government retaliation for her news site's critical reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte.Ressa, who leads online outlet Rappler and was named a Time Magazine "Person of the Year" in 2018 for her journalism, is out on bail and faces years in prison if convicted.This case is among a string of criminal charges that have hit Ressa and Rappler over the past year, prompting allegations that authorities are targeting her and her team for their work,The news portal has reported extensively and often critically on Duterte's policies, including a deadly crackdown that rights groups say may be a crime against humanity."The message that the government is sending is very clear," Ressa told reporters in February as she posted bail after spending the night in jail over the libel case: "Be silent or you're next."FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-LakasBayan (PDP-LABAN) meeting in Manila, May 11, 2019.The case that opens Tuesday centers on a Rappler report from 2012 about a businessman's alleged ties to a then-judge of the nation's top court.Government investigators initially dismissed the businessman's 2017 complaint about the article, but state prosecutors later decided to file charges.The legal foundation of the case is a controversial "cybercrime law" aimed at online offenses ranging from stalking to child pornography.Ressa, 55, argues the law did not take effect until months after the story was published.Government lawyers say it is effectively a new article since Rappler had updated it in 2014 to fix a typographical error.While the plaintiff is a private citizen, like all criminal cases in the Philippines the suit is prosecuted by government lawyers.Ressa and Rappler also face tax and corporate fraud cases.Ressa's presence in court is not mandatory... If you wish to read this full breaking news headline, plus more articles from around Thailand and Asia like, Trial to Open for Philippine Journalist Critical of Duterte, simply click on 'Read full story' below, but 1st please give us a 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' before you leave. Thank you
Published By: VOA NEWS - Tuesday, 23 July
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