Journalist Maria Ressa posts bail, released after spending night in detention

Photo: Maria Ressa Facebook.
Photo: Maria Ressa Facebook.

Maria Ressa, the award-winning journalist and CEO of embattled news website Rappler, has been released by authorities after successfully posting bail today at the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46.

Ressa spent the night with her lawyers and a number of Rappler colleagues in a conference room inside the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) headquarters in Manila, NBI Cybercrime Division chief Vic Lorenzo told Coconuts Manila in confirming her release.

Ressa was accompanied by her lawyer, JJ Disini, and bail was set at PHP100,000 (US$1,915), according to the Philippine Star.

A document posted on Rappler’s Twitter account indicates that Ressa’s arraignment is set for March 1 at 8:30am.

Ressa was arrested yesterday at Rappler’s Pasig City office in connection with a charge of “cyber libel” filed against her by businessman Wilfredo Keng.

Ressa, Rappler, and the website’s former reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. were indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for cyber libel for publishing a story in May 2012 that reported Keng had loaned vehicles to the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ressa said that she could not be accused of cyber libel because the Cybercrime Prevention Act that introduced the charge was not yet in effect when the article was published in May 2012.

The act, also known as Republic Act 10175, was approved on Sept. 12, 2012.

Journalists, human rights advocates, and universities have expressed support for Ressa after she was arrested.

Ressa and Rappler are facing other court cases, including charges of tax evasion. She has called the charges against her politically motivated, because Rappler has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte called Rappler “a fake news outlet” after it published a report that alleged his long-time assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go, got involved in the selection of the Philippine Navy’s suppliers, a multi-billion peso project.

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