US ambassador to PH expresses concern over Maria Ressa verdict

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2020 09:50 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2020 10:53 PM

Rappler CEO and journalist Maria Ressa speaks during a press conference after receiving a guilty verdict on cyber libel by the Manila Regional Trial Court on June 15, 2020. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News/file photo

MANILA (UPDATE) - US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Wednesday expressed concern over the guilty verdict against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former writer-researcher Reynaldo Santos over a cyber libel case.

In a tweet, Kim called for a resolution of the case in a manner "that reinforces the U.S. and Philippines’ shared commitment to freedom of expression, including for members of the press."

Kim's statement echoed that of the US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

A Manila court on Monday sentenced Ressa and Santos to at least 6 months and up to 6 years in prison over a 2012 story that linked a businessman Wilfredo Keng to alleged illegal activities.

News website Rappler and Ressa are also facing charges of tax fraud, violation of the Securities Regulation Code and the Anti-Dummy Law among others.

Ressa is a dual citizen of the United States and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Center of the International PEN also expressed concern over Ressa and Santos' conviction.

"This is a conviction of an independent and vigilant press that holds our leaders accountable to the Filipino people they have sworn to serve when they took their oath on the Constitution," it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

"During these critical times, it is urgent that a free and critical press is able to speak to power to ensure efficient and inclusive delivery of the badly needed health, economic and social services that all Filipinos deserve," it added.