The IWMF calls for the immediate release and dropping of charges against journalist Maria Ressa

The IWMF calls for the immediate release and dropping of charges against journalist Maria Ressa, executive director and founder of Rappler, who was arrested in the Philippines today on cyber libel charges.

Since founding Rappler in 2012, Ressa has been a critical voice in holding the government of the Philippines accountable. The online outlet provides uncompromised journalism and its investigative work exposes government corruption, including reports on taboo topics such as President Duterte’s war on drugs that has led to the deaths of over 5,000 people, and covering his open admission to sexually assaulting a maid.

Due to the nature of this work, Rappler and Ressa have faced direct threats from government officials, which have been called politically motivated by Ressa in the past. The government has taken multiple actions to censor the news organization including banning the site from covering all official events and revoking the site’s license.

The actions taken against Maria Ressa today are blatant evidence of the continued attacks by the government to silence public discourse and access to critical information. Operating as a journalist in the Philippines is particularly dangerous and since 1986, over 170 journalists have been killed. When governments bully and silence the press, the truth is hidden from the public.

The arrest of Ressa continues a troubling trend against press freedom and the steady rise in attacks against journalists internationally. These attacks, especially against female journalists, cannot continue with impunity. The IWMF calls for Maria Ressa’s immediate release and that all charges against her be dismissed.