Maria Ressa temporarily arrested, again

Journalist Maria Ressa reports critically on the drug war of President Rodrigo Duterte. The authorities accuse her of slander as specified.

The government-critical Filipino journalist Maria Ressa has been temporarily arrested six weeks after her release. “I’m being treated like a criminal, even though my only crime is to be an independent journalist,” Ressa told reporters before she was arrested at the Manila airport, where she landed after traveling overseas.

A short time later, she was released on payment of a deposit. Ressa is the head of the news portal Rappler, which reports extensively on President Duterte’s crackdown on drug crime. The authorities accuse Ressa and Rappler of tax fraud and slander. For the journalist threatens twelve years in prison.

The government wants “clearly silence or intimidate the independent and critical press,” it said in a statement of the National Journalists Association. Already in February, Ressa had spent a night in custody before she was released on bail. The US news magazine Time honored her in 2018 together with other journalists as “Person of the Year”.

Since Dutertes’s inauguration, more than 5,000 drug criminals have been killed, police say. Human rights groups believe that the actual number is about three times higher. Critics accuse Duterte of giving the security forces a free hand in their actions. Because of critical coverage of his drug war, the president also threatened other Filipino media with prosecution.