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SPJ condemns recent attempt to silence journalist Maria Ressa


J. Alex Tarquinio, SPJ National President, 212-283-0843, atarquinio@spj.org
Isaac Taylor, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, itaylor@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists strongly condemns the emboldened attempt to stifle the voice of a free press in the Philippines with the most recent arrest of journalist Maria Ressa.

As the media continue to embrace an increasingly digital landscape, foreign threats to press freedom threaten domestic press freedom.

After a second indictment, authorities this week arrested Ressa, founder of the Philippine-based news website Rappler, on charges of cyber libel. After spending Thursday night in detention, she was released on bail of what amounts to $1,915 in U.S. currency. This comes as the latest development in a political attempt to silence the Philippine press.

SPJ spoke in support of Ressa and Rappler in December, after her first arrest.

In an interview with CNN, Ressa said the law is being “weaponized” against people who speak out against the Philippine president.

Examples of extreme censorship have been on full display in recent years. Those who wish to silence the media become ever more encouraged with every successful attempt to silence journalists.

Arresting and detaining journalists — especially those with the prowess of Ressa — is a disservice to journalism and democracy. The Society would like to not only let Ressa know that it stands with her, but warn those who oppose free press that their efforts will not be met with compliance.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the SPJ Foundation.

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