Philippine news site chief and Duterte critic freed on bail after latest arrest

Ressa, a prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested on a fraud charge, a colleague said. (AFP)
Updated 01 April 2019

Philippine news site chief and Duterte critic freed on bail after latest arrest

  • Press freedom advocates have said the arrest is a retaliation for Ressa's news site’s criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte
  • The arrest was the second for Ressa, who was nabbed in February on an Internet libel charge

MANILA: The head of a Philippine news website known for critical reports about President Rodrigo Duterte was freed on bail hours after she was re-arrested at a Manila airport on Friday on charges she had violated foreign ownership rules.
“You cannot harass and intimidate journalists to silence. We’ll stand up and fight against it,” Maria Ressa, the award-winning head of news platform Rappler, told reporters after posting bail of 90,000 pesos ($1,707).
Lawsuits against news platform Rappler have drawn global concern about a free and open media in the democratic Southeast Asian country.
Rappler and its officials are now facing 11 cases, said Ressa, who posted bail for the seventh time.
Ressa was served an arrest warrant over a libel case live on television last month and spent a night in detention before she was released. She was arrested again on Friday minutes after arriving from the United States.
“It is sad this is the kind of welcome our country gives to journalists,” said Ressa, who is due to be arraigned in a regional court on April 10.
State prosecutors filed the latest charges against her and other Rappler executives on Wednesday, while she was overseas. Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde said officers were enforcing a court order.

The Philippine constitution bans foreign ownership of media but Rappler has said foreigners who invested in its Philippine Depositary Receipts do not have any say in its operations.
Media watchdogs said the charges against Ressa were trumped up and aimed at intimidating those who challenge Duterte’s rule, in particular his deadly crackdown on illicit drugs.
“The court case is unprecedented and speaks volumes of the Duterte administration’s determination to shut the website down for its credible and consistent reporting on the government, particularly the ‘drug war’ and the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects and civilians,” Human Rights Watch said.
More than 5,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed in police sting operations. Rights group say the police summarily executed suspects, a claim which police deny.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the courts and police were acting according to the law in issuing and executing the arrest warrant against Ressa.
“She cannot complain this is a violation of press freedom,” Panelo told a news conference. “Press freedom has nothing to do with the charges against Ms. Ressa.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Rappler had become “the whipping boy of the Duterte administration as it seeks to silence or intimidate the independent and critical press.”
Duterte has made no secret of his annoyance at Rappler and has sparred frequently with its reporters, who are known for scrutinizing his policies and appointments and for questioning the accuracy of his sweeping, often bellicose statements.


Legendary Japanese Mangaka Go Nagai adds master strokes to Arab News Japan

Updated 14 min 44 sec ago

Legendary Japanese Mangaka Go Nagai adds master strokes to Arab News Japan

  • Creator of world-famous anime series Grendizer and Mazinger Z looks forward to visiting Saudi Arabia in the near future
  • In honor of Arab fans, Nagai has personally hand-drawn masthead of upcoming Arab News Japan edition

TOKYO: Go Nagai, the internationally-renowned Japanese artist known for legendary anime creations such as “Grendizer” and “Mazinger Z” is looking forward to visiting Saudi Arabia and meeting Arab fans.

In an exclusive interview for the upcoming Japanese edition of Arab News, Nagai thanked his Saudi fans for their appreciation of his works, such as the “UFO Robot Grendizer” animated TV series.

“I really appreciate that people in Saudi Arabia love Grendizer I created. I hope you will continue enjoying my work in the future,” he told Arab News.

Nagai also expressed a desire to visit Saudi Arabia in the near future.

“I’m sure I will be surprised by many things when I visit Saudi Arabia," he said. “Each country has a long history and a rich culture, so when I go to Saudi Arabia I would like to enjoy the culture and history and absorb something new as well.”

Go Nagai is also a prolific author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. The full Go Nagai interview will run in Arab News Japan in both English and Japanese next week. In honor of his Arab fans, Nagai has also personally hand-drawn the masthead of the upcoming Arab News Japan edition.

Arab News Japan will launch in Tokyo at a special event held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ) on Oct. 21, a day before the highly anticipated enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito.

The launch of a dual Japanese-language online edition is a part of the ongoing global expansion plan of Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English language daily.

Arab News Japan is the second international edition under the Arab News brand, following the highly successful launch of its Pakistani edition in February 2018.

Faisal J. Abbas, Arab News Editor-in-Chief, announced the Arab News Japan project at the G1 Global conference in Tokyo on Sept. 16.

“We hope that our new service arabnews.jp helps bring a better mutual understanding of both our rich cultures and become a trusted communication channel where our friends in Japan can rely on us for credible information and insightful analysis,” Abbas said on the occasion.

Arab News is part of the regional publishing group Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English language newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region for more than 40 years.