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Journalist Philippine

Philippine Journalist Maria Ressa Found Guilty Of Violating Cyberlibel Law – NPR

Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa (left) talks with former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. during a news conference in Manila on Monday.

Aaron Favila/AP


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Aaron Favila/AP

Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa (left) talks with former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. during a news conference in Manila on Monday.

Aaron Favila/AP

Maria Ressa, the former CNN journalist who co-founded the Philippines’ Rappler news site, has been convicted of cyber libel, a controversial charge that she has denied, maintaining that it’s a politically motivated effort to silence independent journalism in the country.

Ressa, 56, was found guilty along with former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. in connection with a 2012 story by Santos on links between then Philippine Chief Justice Renato Corona and wealthy businessmen. Corona was impeached and removed from office around the time the story was first published. He died in 2016.

Although Santos’ story was published months before the cyber libel law came into effect, the government says that when Rappler republished it two years later for what Ressa maintains was to fix a “typo,” the publication exposed itself to the new law.

Santos and Ressa, who were both allowed to remain free on bail pending an appeal, face up to six years in prison if the verdict stands.

Rappler’s parent company, Rappler Holdings Corp., was found not guilty in Monday’s proceeding.

Ressa was one of four journalists, including slain columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who were named by Time magazine as Person of the Year in 2018.

The cyber libel case is being viewed as a major test of press freedom in the Philippines, where the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has maintained a combative relationship with the media since coming to power in 2016. He has been particularly critical of Rappler, labeling the fiercely independent website “fake news.” He has also attacked journalists as “spies” and warned that they could be targeted for assassination.

Ressa, who worked for CNN until 2010, has been arrested multiple times in recent years in what many critics have called a political vendetta against Rappler.

In 2018, the government announced that it would charge Ressa and Rappler Holdings with tax evasion.

Ressa has denied any wrongdoing in connection with either the tax evasion or cyber libel charges.

She was arrested twice last year, once in connection with the cyber libel case and again on the tax evasion charge.

Ressa, speaking with NPR’s Weekend Edition last year, said she didn’t think the government’s move was just about Rappler.

“Press freedom is the foundation of the rights of all Filipinos to the truth,” she told NPR. “I always say, you know, you have to help us hold the line; we’re not against the government, but it is our job to hold the government accountable.”

At a news conference following Monday’s verdict, Ressa said the outcome was “not unexpected.”

“We will keep fighting,” she said. “We are going to stand up against any kind of attacks against press freedom.”

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Journalist killed

Journalist killed in Kabul bomb blast targeting TV workers – Al Jazeera English

A journalist and a driver were killed when a private bus carrying employees of an Afghan television station was hit by a roadside bomb in the capital, Kabul, the network’s news director and officials have said.

Four other employees were wounded in Satursday’s attack, said Marwa Amini, interior ministry deputy spokeswoman.

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The pair died when the bus carrying 15 employees of the Khurshid TV news station was struck, the channel’s news director Jawed Farhad told AFP news agency.

The interior ministry said the minivan had been targeted.

“The target of the blast was the vehicle of Khurshid private TV,” a ministry statement said.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility hours after the attack. 

In a statement on an ISIL-affiliate website, the group said the attack was against a bus carrying employees of Khurshid TV, a station it described as “loyal to the Afghan apostate government”.

ISIL, which battles government forces and Taliban fighters, has claimed some of the deadliest attacks in urban Afghanistan in recent years. It did not give a reason for Saturday’s attack.

Pictures shared on social media showed a white minibus with extensive damage to its front.

It was the second such attack targeting employees of the channel in less than a year.

In August 2019, two passers-by were killed when a “sticky bomb” – a type of homemade explosive attached to vehicles with magnets – struck a similar Khurshid TV van.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s deadliest places for journalists, who face many risks covering the country’s long-running conflict and who have sometimes been targeted for doing their job.

Last year, the Taliban warned the Afghan media to stop broadcasting what it called “anti-Taliban statements”.

In 2016, a Taliban suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying employees of Tolo TV, the country’s largest private broadcaster, killing seven journalists.

The Taliban claimed Tolo was producing propaganda for the US military and the Western-backed Afghan government.

The latest attack comes during an overall drop in violence across much of Afghanistan since the Taliban offered a surprise three-day ceasefire on May 24.

While the truce ended on Tuesday night, violence has largely remained low, though Afghan security forces have suffered some attacks that authorities blame on the Taliban.

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