Maria Ressa has a message for the members of the U.S. media who feel under attack: stand your ground.
“I think we’re living through a very unique moment where again it proves that information is power,” the journalist told TIME at the TIME 100 gala in New York Tuesday. Ressa, who was included in TIME’s 2019 list of the most influential people, attended Tuesday’s gala in New York City with her sister. “Its a completely chaotic time where technology has helped make facts disputable, eroded truth, and crippled trust.”
While Ressa has been an award-winning journalist for decades, she rose to international prominence over the past year as a beacon for the free press in the Southeast Asian country. After working for the Wall Street Journal and CNN, she co-founded the Philippines news website Rappler in 2012, and has extensively reported on the President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly crackdown on drugs and the extrajudicial killings in the country.
In November of 2018, the Philippine government charged Ressa and the website with tax evasion, which Ressa alleged was merely an effort to intimidate her.
She has since been arrested twice in recent months — in February on charges of “cyber libel” related to an article published by Rappler in May 2012 and in March over accusations that Rappler violated laws prohibiting foreign ownership of media companies.
“In 14 months the Filipino government has filed 11 cases [against me],” she said. “My only crime is to be a journalist, to speak truth to power.”
Ressa was also included in TIME’s 2018 Person of the Year coverage, which was dedicated to journalists fighting for truth across the world.