Philippines to charge news site Rappler for tax evasion

The Philippine government is alleging Rappler’s top executive, Maria Ressa, had attempted to evade paying taxes by not reporting gains of almost $3 million in its 2015 tax returns. (Reuters)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Philippines to charge news site Rappler for tax evasion

  • There was ‘probable cause’ to indict Rappler for violation of the country’s tax laws
  • Its top executive, Maria Ressa, had attempted to evade paying taxes by not reporting gains of almost $3 million in its 2015 tax returns

MANILA: The Philippines’ justice department said on Friday it had found cause to indict online news site Rappler and its top executive for tax evasion.
The justice department said it “found probable cause” to indict Rappler for violation of the country’s tax laws after it did not declare gains made in its 2015 tax returns.
Rappler said in a statement the indictment “is a clear form of harassment” and “an attempt to silence reporting that does not please the administration.”
The news site’s lawyer, Francis Lim, also said the case “has no legal leg to stand on” because Rappler did not evade any tax obligation.
Rappler is a frequent critic of the Philippines’ leader, Rodrigo Duterte, questioning the accuracy of his public statements and scrutinizing his war on drugs and his foreign policy decisions.
In a resolution last month, but made public only on Friday, a state prosecutor upheld a complaint from the internal revenue agency that Rappler and its top executive, Maria Ressa, had attempted to evade paying taxes by not reporting gains of almost $3 million in its 2015 tax returns.
The justice department’s statement said that the state prosecutor had dismissed Ressa’s defense that “the non-declaration of such gain was neither intentional nor willful.”


Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

Updated 21 July 2019
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Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

  • Twitter said the accounts harassed people linked to the Baha’i faith
  • The Baha’i faith is a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran

WASHINGTON: A day after Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets, the social networking service said Saturday it acted after harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith.
Amid soaring tensions in the region, heightened by Iran’s seizure on Friday of a British-flagged tanker, some of the affected media outlets had speculated that the suspensions were related to their coverage of the seizure.
But Twitter cited what it said was the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith, a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran.
It did not name the suspended accounts, and said it was continuing to investigate the matter.
“Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” read English-language messages on each of the Iranian media outlets’ accounts.
Mehr news agency, which is close to moderate conservatives in Iran, said its Farsi-language account appeared to have been blocked late Friday following its reports on the seizure of the tanker Stena Impero in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it seized the Swedish-owned tanker for breaking “international maritime rules” in the strait, a chokepoint for around a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.
Mehr’s Farsi-language Twitter page was inaccessible on Saturday, along with those of the official IRNA news agency and the agency of the Young Journalists’ Club.
“Since last night and after seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz the account of the Young Journalists’ Club and some other users have been suspended,” the YJC said on its website.
Mehr noted that its Mehr Diplomacy account, which publishes analysis and interviews on foreign policy, was also offline.
Another account taken down belonged to Ali Akbar Raefipoor, a hard-line public speaker.
None of the owners of the suspended accounts said they had been given any reason for the move by Twitter.
The micro-blogging platform is banned in Iran, but many officials still have accounts and people access them by using a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.