UN rapporteur tells Rappler CEO: 'You can count on us'

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14) — The United Nations' Special Rapporteur known to have caught the ire of the Duterte administration told detained Rappler CEO Maria Ressa to count on her.

"And another terrible nail in the coffin. Maria, I am thinking of you. You can count on me. You can count on us," UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard said in a tweet Wednesday.

 

The National Bureau of Investigation arrested Ressa on Wednesday afternoon on the grounds of a cyber libel case. The case was related to a 2012 article published on the online news website alleging ties between the late Chief Justice Renato Corona and businessman Wilfredo Keng.

Both Ressa and Callamard have repeatedly hit the Duterte administration. Ressa had accused government of trumping up various charges against her and Rappler for their news coverages of the Duterte administration's drug war, and links between former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and a controversial Navy frigate deal.

Duterte also previously lashed out at Callamard for her comments against his controversial war on drugs and refused to have her investigate it.

International editors, reporters groups express support

An international group of global editors-in-chief and media executives expressed support for Ressa.

"The Global Editors Network stands with its board member Maria Ressa in these difficult times. We stand by her in the face of government repression and fully support her work. We respect the courage with which she, and Rappler, approach journalism." the Global Editors Network (GEN) said in a tweet Wednesday.

 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Secretary-General Christophe Deloire also denounced the arrest warrant served against Ressa.

Deloire said this was an obvious violation of press freedom, and called on other countries to 'exercise influence' on President Duterte.

 

"The arrest warrant served against @mariaressa, most famous journalist in the Philippines, CEO of @rapplerdotcom, is an obvious violation of press freedom which should be denounced by all the heads of States and governments which can exercise influence on Rodrigo Duterte," Deloire said.

The Philippines ranked 133rd among 180 nations in the World Press Freedom Index in 2018, according to RSF. The organization flagged the cases filed against Rappler as among the reasons for the Philippines' low rankings.

Ressa, along with other journalists, were hailed as "Person of the Year" by TIME Magazine -- calling them "guardians on the war on truth." She was joined by Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor who was killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October.