Rappler CEO calls arrest 'abuse of power'

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Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa was arrested over a cyber libel case Wednesday afternoon. The case involved a story published in May 2012, months before the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was passed.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14) —  Rappler CEO Maria Ressa insisted she has not done anything criminal after she was arrested by authorities Wednesday night over a cyber libel case.

"The message is clear. It's an abuse of power, it's a weaponization of the law. If they wanted to scare me, this isn't the way to scare me. Follow the rule of law," Ressa told reporters Thursday.

The Rappler founder was detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) overnight as they failed to post bail before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 45. She was arrested over a cyber libel case involving a 2012 article published on the online news site alleging ties between the late Chief Justice Renato Corona and businessman Wilfredo Keng.

Ressa said her arrest warrant did not contain the information required to allow her to post bail.

"They went through a lot of trouble to have me spend the night," the Rappler executive alleged.

On Wednesday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Ressa could have avoided the arrest if she posted a bail bond, as the information for her cyber libel case was filed in court "nearly two weeks ago."

Ressa contradicted this, saying, "This arrest could have been avoided if the government did not want to abuse its power to arrest a journalist. That's like a childish argument."

She warned that court decisions such as the one made by the Manila Regional Trial Court against her set precedents to other cases of stories posted online.

"For me, they've set precedents in many different ways," she said.

Malacañang and the Department of Justice have insisted Ressa's arrest have nothing to do with press freedom.

The businessman tagged in Rappler's article expressed gratitude over the criminal charges filed against Rappler and Maria Ressa. But Rappler said no arrest warrant was issued against their former researcher and reporter Reynaldo Santos, who wrote the article in question.

"Rappler, Ressa and Santos never attempted to obtain my side on the crimes they wrongly imputed to me or to fact-check their baseless attacks against my name," Keng said in a Thursday statement.

Ressa disputed Keng's claims.

"We're a traditional newsgroup in the sense that all of these processes are in place," she said. "His side was published. Repeatedly he was asked by the reporter."