WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. press leaders said Thursday it is time for authorities in the Philippines to drop pending charges and a conviction against journalist Maria Ressa, founder and CEO of the Rappler news site. The Philippine government has targeted Ressa in a campaign of repression in response to nothing more than her intrepid reporting. The National Press Club honored Ressa and her Rappler colleagues in 2020 with a John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, an annual honor that recognizes fearless journalism.
Earlier this week, a Manila court dismissed one unfounded charge of "cyber-libel" against Ressa. Another such charge was dropped in June. Yet Ressa still faces a half-dozen similarly spurious charges and is appealing a conviction last year on yet another trumped-up cyber-libel charge.
National Press Club President Lisa Nicole Matthews and National Press Club Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane issued the following statement Thursday:
"We are heartened that another phony 'cyber-libel' charge against Ressa has been dropped. But it is past time for the numerous other spurious charges against her to be dismissed, for her conviction on cyber-libel to be overturned and for all other efforts to silence or repress her work to be halted. Journalism is not a crime."
Ressa was named among the "Persons of the Year" in Time magazine's 2019 issue on Press Freedom. She is a Fulbright scholar, a Princeton graduate and former CNN bureau chief. She co-founded Rappler in 2012.
Ressa has emerged as one of the leading voices for press freedom in the Philippines amid threats to independent journalism in the country from its hardline president, Rodrigo Duterte.
Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. The Club has 3,000 members representing nearly every major news organization and is a leading voice for press freedom in the United States and around the world.
The National Press Club Journalism Institute, the Club's non-profit affiliate, promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.