A day after her arrest over a charge of violating the country’s anti-dummy law, CEO and executive editor of Filipino news website Rappler, Maria Ressa was released on Friday, 29 March.
According to Rappler, Ressa posted bail for the seventh time in over a month and the latest release came after she paid a sum of P90,000 (approximately Rs 1.1 lakh).
Pasig police officers on Friday morning served the warrant of arrest the moment Ressa deplaned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1. Police officers had taken Ressa and her lawyer on board their police car.
Following her arrest, she termed the arrest as ‘weaponisation of law’. “Every action takes us farther into a descent into tyranny. This is weaponisation of law,” news agency Associated Press quoted her as saying.
She also tweeted saying that the arrest was 'insane' and a violation of the constitution.
Meanwhile, Ressa's legal counsel Francis Lim issued a statement saying that the harassment will not deter her.
"This latest episode is not surprising and we prepared ourselves for it. But let it be crystal clear that these acts of harassment will not deter our clients from doing their duty as journalists," Lim said.
"We believe in the rule of law and it is our fervent hope that we will prevail in the end," Lim added.
The award-winning head of a Philippine online news site Rappler, that has aggressively covered the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration was earlier arrested on 13 February on charges of libel. She was freed on bail, the next day.
Back then, the arrest of Time magazine's ‘Person of the Year' last year, was denounced by Rappler and media watchdogs across the world as a threat to press freedom.
Ressa Charged for Foreign Funding
The charges against Ressa stem from a complaint by the National Bureau of Investigation that Rappler allowed a foreign investor, US-based Omidyar Network, to inject funds in the media organisation, Associated Press reported.
The Philippine Constitution bans foreign ownership of news media, but Rappler has argued that it did not grant Omidyar the power to control or influence its news operations.
The country's Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked the site's license over what it ruled was a breach of the ban on foreign ownership and control of media outlets. Ressa is facing separate complaints for allegedly violating tax laws in connection with the foreign funds that Rappler received.
(With inputs from Associated Press)
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