The founder of an online news start-up that critically criticized the Philippine government came to Manila on Monday after a warrant had been issued against her on the weekend.
The Philippine government has charged the journalist with Maria Ressa and her news organization, Rappler, the tax evasion, a move said by Rappler, was part of a wider attack on the news media in the Philippines by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ressa and Rappler were indicted last week for tax fraud in five cases described by the news organization as "intimidation and harassment". The sentences could include a fine and up to ten years in prison for Ms. Ressa. You have denied the allegations.
"I will hold my government responsible for publicly calling me a criminal," said Ms. Ressa in a brief conversation with a group of reporters welcoming her arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila late on Sunday. "I'm not a criminal."
On Monday morning, Ms. Ressa arrived at Pasig County Court in Manila, giving headshots and taking her fingerprints. Her legal team requested that Ms. Ressa be released on bail and pay 60,000 pesos or about 1,100 US dollars to obtain her release, her lawyer said by phone.
Duterte belongs to a growing group of political strongmen who have come to power in recent years due to a wave of populism in their countries, and who have come to power. When challenged by the news media, they often turned against reporters and accused them of being dishonest and producing "false news".
In the Philippines, Mr. Duterte led an aggressive anti-drug campaign that has led to the deaths of thousands of people. Local news organizations like Rappler have documented the campaign well, which has led to an international outcry over the killings and led Mr Duterte to focus on the news media.
He has repeatedly threatened to renew the license for ABS-CBN, the largest block radio network in the Philippines. He referred to reporters as "spies" and "sons of bitches" and made thinly masked death threats. He warned the reporters "that they will not be released from the murder".
Rappler was founded in 2012 as a cranky investigative and entertainment business a major target of his verbal abuse. In particular, the political star reporter Pia Ranada was singled out. At a press conference, Mr. Duterte warned her not to go to his hometown of Davao, where he was once mayor, because "something bad is going to happen to you."
At the beginning of the year, Ms. Ranada was deprived of the press card so she can cover the Malacañang Palace, the Philippine equivalent of the White House. Rappler reporters were excluded from official presidential events. Such treatment has alarmed the media groups.
"Duttert's unrelenting persecution of the media seems more than an inability to tolerate being part of the increasingly authoritarian direction that his presidency has taken," the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Sunday night.
Rapplers Newsroom was also at the front of a war on misinformation on Facebook, where most Filipinos receive their news. Rapper reporters were the target of online death and rape threats so serious that editors debated the installation of bullet-proof windows in the news organization's office.
This year, Rappler became an official fact tester for Facebook, who referred to the Philippines as the "Patient Zero" in the fight for the misinformation.
The case of the Philippine government against Mrs. Ressa and Rappler was filed by the Ministry of Justice of the country and focuses on an investment of 2015 in Rappler by the Omidyar Network, an American organization that owns Pierre Omidyar the founder of eBay. At the center of this case is a financial transaction, which was again this year by a Filipino Securities and Exchange Commission (US Securities and Exchange Commission) endeavored to revoke the permission of Rappler.
The fees treat Rappler as a "Securities Dealer" and No News Organization, said Ms. Ressa, adding that Rappler had paid the right taxes for a news organization in the Philippines.
Francis Lim, Ms. Ressa's lawyer, said Monday in a text-sent statement: "The police can not arrest her anymore because the court has just announced the cash bail she has for the duration of the case for her freedom has, has endorsed. "
Several politicians criticized Mr. Duterte and his government's case against Mrs. Ressa on Monday. An opposition MP, Tom Villarin, said it was "a sure sign that the Duterte government wants to bring this country into darkness and darkness," adding, "Harassing journalists and putting critics in jail is the Refuge of fascists and villains. "
Risa Hontiveros, an opposition Senator, described the case as an attempt to" scare the media. "
"In his attempt to be a full-fledged authoritarian author, President Duterte wants to control the free flow of information and neutralize a potential channel of criticism," said Ms. Hontiveros in an e-mailed statement.
On Sunday evening, Ms. Said Ressa from the airport that her arrest would not silence her.
"I was a journalist all my life," she said. "I will continue to hold the government accountable."