The cyber libel trial against independent news startup Rappler’s CEO and one of its former writers starts in Manila

The cyber libel trial against Maria Ressa, the CEO and executive editor of independent media startup Rappler, started today in Manila, in a case that will be closely watched because of its implications for press freedom in the Philippines. Also on trial is Reynaldo Santos Jr, a former researcher and writer for the site. If convicted, both potentially face years in jail.

Before co-founding Rappler, Ressa, a Time Magazine Person of the Year for her work exposing corruption and fighting misinformation, served as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila and then Jakarta. Ressa is an outspoken critic of the Philippine’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, and Rappler has often reported critically on Duterte’s administration. In turn, Duterte has accused Rappler of being funded by the CIA and publishing fake news.

Both Ressa and Santos were arrested earlier this year on cyber libel security charges for an article published in 2012 that reported on the alleged ties between Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached in 2011, and wealthy businessmen including Wilfredo Keng. Keng filed the cyber libel complaint against Ressa and Santos in 2017.

The five year gap between the publication of the article and Keng’s complaint is an important

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