(CNN)Maria Ressa, a high-profile Philippine journalist and vocal critic of the country’s president, was arrested Wednesday in connection with “cyber libel” charges against Rappler, the news site she oversees. Ressa was formally arrested on Wednesday, JJ Disini, one of her lawyers, told CNN, adding that she would head to night court in Pasay City to…
(CNN)Maria Ressa, a high-profile Philippine journalist and vocal critic of the country’s president, was arrested Wednesday in connection with “cyber libel” charges against Rappler, the news site she oversees.
Ressa was formally arrested on Wednesday, JJ Disini, one of her lawyers, told CNN, adding that she would head to night court in Pasay City to post bail.
Earlier in the day, she was served an arrest warrant by Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officers, Rappler reported.
Rappler said the charges are over an article it published in 2012.Ressa was indicted in relation to that case last week, whichAmnesty International criticizedas “yet another absurd legal attack” that amounted to “harassment.”
Ressa, the chief executive of Rappler and a 2018 Time Person of the Year, has beenindicted multiple timeson libel and tax evasion charges that critics have described as politically motivated and designed to silence independent media in the southeast Asian country.
Rappler said authorities attempted to stop some of its journalists from filming the proceedings against Ressa on Wednesday, and that one officer who declined to give his name to reporters threatened to “go after you too.”
CNN attempted to reach the Philippines NBI by phone but the bureau did not pick up.
Rappler’s extensive reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs has earned praise from human rights advocates, but has made the site and its journalists a target by supporters of the Duterte administration.
Time Magazine included her amongits selections for the 2018 Person of the Year award, which honored journalists who have been targeted for their work.
Philippine prosecutors filed five cases related to tax evasion against Ressa and Rappler late last year. Some of the charges allege that the company failed to declare about $3 million in 2015 on tax returns from an investment by the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar.
“I’ve long run out of synonyms for the word ‘ridiculous.’ The basis of this case is that Rappler is classified as a dealer in securities. I am definitely not a stockbroker,” Ressa toldCNN after news of those charges broke.
Duterte’s office has denied he is involved in the prosecutions against Rappler, but the President has previously sparred with the company’s employees, personally barring Ressa and reporter Pia Ranada from Malacanang Palace, his official residence, over their coverage of his administration.
Ressa worked for CNN before starting Rappler, an online news site that has since become an indispensable source of information for readers in the Philippines and internationally.