MANILA (AFP) – Prominent rights lawyer Amal Clooney said she will join the legal team defending Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, whose news site has repeatedly clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ressa, who was named a Time Magazine ‘Person of the Year’ in 2018 for her journalism, faces several criminal charges along with her website Rappler, in what press freedom advocates have branded an act of “persecution”.
“Maria Ressa is a courageous journalist who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses,” Clooney said in a statement issued on Monday by London’s Doughty Street Chambers, where she works.
“We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines,” added the British-Lebanese lawyer.
Clooney will work with a team of international lawyers based in the US and Britain as counsel to Ressa and coordinate with attorneys in Manila, the statement said.
Ressa was arrested twice this year and has accused Duterte of using prosecutions against her – including ongoing cases of alleged tax evasion and libel – to silence critics and intimidate the press.