An award-winning journalist who is an outspoken critic of the Philippine president has been arrested on “cyber libel” charges.
Maria Ressa, who was named as a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018, was arrested as part of a series of legal cases against perceived adversaries of the government.
Ms Ressa, chief executive of news outlet Rappler, is accused of “cyber libel” over a 2012 article which linked a businessman to murder and trafficking humans and drugs.
The article cited information from an intelligence report from an unspecified agency. The businessman denies any wrongdoing.
Ms Ressa is a vocal critic of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, and her work saw her named by Time Magazine last year.
Time said her publication was carrying out “fearless reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s propaganda machine and extrajudicial killings”.
Amnesty International said Ms Ressa’s arrest was “brazenly politically motivated”.
Agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Ms Ressa at the Rappler office and she was escorted to NBI headquarters.
She said: “We are not intimidated. No amount of legal cases, black propaganda and lies can silence Filipino journalists who continue to hold the line.
“These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail.”
Menardo Guevarra, the justice secretary, said Ms Ressa was indicted more than a week ago.
As Ms Ressa was arrested so late in the afternoon it was “difficult if not impossible” for her to post bail before the courts closed, her lawyer said.
The journalist is no stranger to facing criminal charges. She has been indicted several times, most recently on tax evasion charges, with one stating her company failed to file $3m (£2.3m) in taxes in 2015.
She told CNN, her former employers, she had “long run out of synonyms for the word ‘ridiculous’.”
Rappler’s operating licence was rescinded in 2018 and this and the tax evasion cases are ongoing.
Chay Hofilena, Rappler’s investigative editor, said: “These cases are intended to intimidate us. We know that’s the intent, we are not buckling.”
Rappler is one of several news agencies which have been deemed critical of Mr Duterte’s policies, including his anti-drug campaign, that has left thousands of suspects dead.
Mr Duterte has called Rappler a “fake news outlet” and suggested it could be linked to the CIA.
But he says he has never punished anyone for criticising him.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement: “The Philippine government’s legal harassment of Rappler and Ressa has now reached a critical and alarming juncture.
“We call on Filipino authorities to immediately release Ressa, drop this spurious cyber libel charge, and cease and desist this campaign of intimidation aimed at silencing Rappler.”
Ms Ressa has also won the Press Freedom award from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Centre for Journalists’ Knight International Journalism Award.
Flooding and mudslides kill at least 60 people in South Africa | World News
Flooding and mudslides have killed at least 60 people on South Africa’s eastern coast, officials have said.
Most of the deaths were in KwaZulu-Natal province, where many homes collapsed, and at least three people died in neighbouring Eastern Cape.
Rescuers were digging through the collapsed buildings on Wednesday after days of heavy rain hit areas around the port city of Durban.
More than 1,000 people have also fled their homes.
The extent of the rain late on Monday was unexpected, said Lennox Mabaso from the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department.
He said some people had been swept away by floodwater, adding: “There was flooding and some structures were undermined and collapsed on people.”
Victor da Silva, from the coastal town of Amanzimtoti, said his family managed to get out before the floods destroyed their home and cars.
He said: “On Monday, the water was just crazy.
“And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine, my garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn’t stop raining.
“And then an hour-and-a-half later, everything [vanished] because the rain just hasn’t stopped.”
The deaths come a week after 13 people died when a wall at a church in KwaZulu-Natal collapsed after heavy rain.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the province on Wednesday and is expected to visit the Eastern Cape in the next few days.
“This is partly what climate change is about, that it just hits when we least expect it,” said Mr Ramaphosa.
Facebook warns of $5bn hit as US investigates how it handles user data | Business News
Facebook has warned it could face a hit of up to $5bn (£3.88bn) as a result of an investigation by US regulators into its handling of user data.
The social media giant, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, disclosed the estimated cost of the investigation into it by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as it published first-quarter financial results.
Facebook reported a 26% rise in revenues to $15.1bn (£11.7bn) – beating analysts’ targets – and estimated that more than 2.1 billion people on average now use its “family” of services every day.
But profits fell by 51% compared with the same period last year to $2.43bn (£1.88bn) as it set aside $3bn (£2.33bn) to cover the FTC inquiry into its “platform and user data practices”.
The FTC has been investigating revelations that Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million of its users with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
The probe has focused on whether the sharing of the data with the British firm, and other privacy disputes, violated a 2011 agreement with the regulator to safeguard users’ privacy.
The FTC is yet to announce any findings.
Facebook said it estimated the range of loss it faced as a result of the investigation was between $3bn and $5bn.
The company added: “The matter remains unresolved and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome.”
Investors shrugged off the disclosure, sending shares 5% higher in after-hours trading as they focused on Facebook’s buoyant revenues – boosted by the success of its Instagram platform and surging ad income.
Facebook also reported an 80% rise in costs to $11.8bn (£9.15bn) as it ramped up spending to improve content and security across its platforms.
The company’s number of employees stood at nearly 38,000 at the end of last month, up 36% on last year.
It added that its measure of monthly active users rose by 8% to 2.38 billion as of 31 March, while daily active users rose 8% to 1.56 billion on average for March.
Founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said: “We had a good quarter and our business and community continue to grow.
“We are focused on building out our privacy-focused vision for the future of social networking, and working collaboratively to address important issues around the internet.”
Three-year-old migrant boy found alone and in tears near US border | US News
A three-year-old migrant boy was found wandering alone in a Texas cornfield near the US-Mexico border.
The boy, in tears, was discovered in the Rio Grande Valley near Brownsville by US Border Patrol agents on Tuesday morning.
Officials said his name and a telephone number were written on his shoes.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tweeted: “We believe the boy was with a larger group that ran when they encountered agents.”
The boy has been taken to a nearby border station while officials try to trace his family.
It came as Donald Trump renewed his threat on Wednesday to send more troops to the US-Mexico border after an incident in which Mexican soldiers confronted US personnel.
Mexico blamed the incident on confusion, and said it was not looking for confrontation with the US.
In tweets on Wednesday morning, Mr Trump said: “Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers.”
He said it was probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the border.
The president added: “Better not happen again! We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!”
US Border Patrol agents have been struggling to cope with the rising number of families trying to reach the US from Central America.
Between January and the end of March this year, 207,475 people have been detained on the southwest US border, according to US Border Patrol figures.
Mr Trump made migration a key part of his presidential campaign as he said criminals and drug dealers from Mexico were swamping the US.
The president had promised to build a wall to stop the flow of migrants – but last year, Congress refused to give him the $5.7bn (£4.5bn) needed to construct it, leading to a government shutdown.
In February, he declared a national emergency so he could get round Congress and divert funds from the military to the wall.
In March, army engineers received permission to start planning and building 57 miles of 18ft-high fencing along the border.
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