Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Maria Ressa, shown here at CPJ's 2018 International Press Freedom Awards in New York City, continues to face a cyber libel case in the Philippines. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Philippine authorities order Rappler to shut down, block access to 2 news websites

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On Tuesday, Philippine authorities ordered the shutdown of independent news organization Rappler and the blocking of news websites Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly. Maria Ressa, co-founder, CEO and executive editor of Rappler, was quoted in news reports Wednesday saying that the outlet would appeal the ruling.

Ressa, who is a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the 2018 recipient of CPJ’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award, and her news organization face a sustained campaign of legal persecution, which has also targeted her colleagues. In June alone, prosecutors threw out 28 cases of cyber libel against Rappler that had been filed since January.

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order revoking Rappler’s license to operate is the first of its kind in history – both for the Commission and for Philippine media. The SEC decision upheld an earlier ruling revoking the news outlet’s operating license for violating foreign ownership rules, which Rappler denies.

SEC’s ruling against Rappler came just days before President Rodrigo Duterte stepped down after six years in power and President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was inaugurated. In a public letter sent in May, CPJ called on Marcos to reverse his predecessor’s various press freedom-eroding actions and policies, including against Rappler and Altermidya network members.

Watch CPJ’s video on Rappler’s case here.

Meanwhile in Mexico, journalist Antonio de la Cruz was shot dead in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the northern state of Tamaulipas, on Wednesday. In a press conference, prosecutor Irving Barrios said that de la Cruz, a reporter for the newspaper Expreso, was shot multiple times while in a car with his daughter. Mexico is the deadliest country for reporters in the Western Hemisphere. At least three journalists have been killed in the country in 2022 in direct relation to their work. CPJ is investigating another seven killings to determine the motive.

Global press freedom updates

  • Ukrainian journalists Sevgil Musaieva and Sonia Lukashova receive death threats
  • Proposed Russian legislation expands “foreign agent” regulations
  • Indian journalist Mohammad Zubair arrested in Delhi
  • Kuwait withdraws licenses of 90 news websites, refers 73 outlets for prosecution
  • New details raise questions about whether Sri Lankan president was complicit in the killing of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge
  • Turkish photojournalist Abdurrahman Gök found guilty on terrorism charge
  • Tajikistan authorities detain, question relatives of exiled journalist Anora Sarkorova. Separately in the country, authorities arrest two journalists over critical reporting
  • CPJ urges Gambia authorities to prioritize legal reforms, accountability for crimes against the press
  • Congolese journalist Chilassy Bofumbo denied provisional release 
  • Angolan journalists continue to face criminal insult and defamation proceedings
  • Ethiopian authorities re-arrest journalist Yayesew Shimelis one week after release on bail
  • Zimbabwean journalist threatened with assault after corruption reporting
  • Guinean police detain, question journalist Mamadou Sagnane
  • Nigerian publisher Olamilekan Hammed Adewale Bashiru granted bail with strict conditions
  • Burkina Faso journalist Ahmed Newton Barry threatened
  • DRC journalist Baby Ndombe Mwilungu detained for 3 hours over coverage of governor
  • Bangladesh journalist arrested, two charged under Digital Security Act
  • CPJ joins letter calling on Romanian authorities to hasten investigation into harassment of journalist Emilia Șercan
  • Nicaraguan police raid, close independent news outlet Trinchera de la Noticia


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