A court in The Philippines dismissed a cyber libel case against IPI Executive Board member Maria Ressa after the plaintiff in the case withdrew.
The plaintiff, businessman Wilfredo Keng, claimed he was withdrawing from the case to focus on „helping out with the pandemic“. Ressa had been accused of cyber libel when she tweeted screenshots of a 2002 Philstar.com article that allegedly linked Keng to the murder of a local politician.
Last June, Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were found guilty of cyber libel in a separate case also brought by Keng. They were sentenced to a minimum of six months and one day and a maximum of six years in prison. Both remain free while the case is on appeal.
Ressa, one of the Philippines’s most prominent journalists and the CEO of news site Rappler, has been the target of repeated legal harassment in response to her and Rappler’s critical reporting. She faces eight other court cases, related to alleged violations of tax and foreign ownership law, as well as a third cyber libel case. Ressa faces nearly 100 years in prison across all cases.
IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen welcomed the news but underscored that all other charges must be dropped.
“This case has crumbled because it was baseless to begin with”, Griffen said. “The various charges against Maria Ressa have never been about anything but silencing Maria and Rappler and punishing them for doing their job of reporting on power. We call for all remaining cases against Maria Ressa to be dropped and for an end to the campaign of harassment against her and all other independent journalists in The Philippines.”
IPI’s Executive Board has repeatedly condemned the harassment of fellow Board member Ressa and emphasized the global solidarity with her.