Global journalists show solidarity for Filipino editor Maria Ressa
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Global journalists show solidarity for Filipino editor Maria Ressa

JOURNALISTS from all around the world are rallying behind Maria Ressa, a prominent critic of Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte who is being threatened with indictment for alleged tax evasion.

On Friday, the Philippines’ justice department said it had found “probable cause” to file charges against Ressa, the editor of popular news site Rappler who purportedly violated the country’s tax laws by failing to declare gains in 2015.

However, the bulk of senior journalists from big news outlets who took to Twitter believe the charges were politically motivated and expressed their solidarity for their colleague.

SEE ALSO: Rappler boss says women are ‘holding the line’ in Philippine media 

Peter Greste, the former Al-Jazeera foreign correspondent who was once jailed in Egypt for a year, says its important for journalists to “stand firm” behind Ressa.

If convited, Ressa faces up to 10 year prison with a hefty fine.

“Its important we stand firm, together, @mariaressa. Its not just about those of us under attack. Its about the institution of a free press and all who depend on it,” the Australian-Latvian journalist said on Twitter.

Inga Thordar, CNN Digital International Executive Editor said the allegations against Ressa was “outrageous” and something media practitioners “must all fight together”.

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Rappler Editor and CEO Maria Ressa speaks during a plenary panel at the International Media Conference organised by the East West Center on June 25, 2018. Source: A. Azim Idris

“The attack on the press in various forms is increasing,” Thordar said on Twitter.

In a statement, Rappler said the indictment “is a clear form of harassment” and “an attempt to silence reporting that does not please the administration.”

Francis Lim, the news site’s lawyer, also said the case “has no legal leg to stand on” because Rappler did not evade any tax obligation.

SEE ALSO: Rappler’s foreign investor donates all investment to Filipino managers

Ever since Duterte, questioning the accuracy of his public statements and scrutinising his war on drugs and his foreign policy decisions.

 

On Friday, a state prosecutor upheld a complaint from the internal revenue agency that Rappler and Ressa, had attempted to evade paying taxes by not reporting gains of almost US$3 million in its 2015 tax returns, Reuters reported.

The justice department’s statement said Ressa’s defence that “the non-declaration of such gain was neither intentional nor willful,” was dismissed.