TIME Magazine has announced its 2018 Person of the Year: “The Guardians,” a group of journalists targeted for their work in “the War on Truth.”
The group includes Jamal Khashoggi, Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo, the Capital Gazette and Maria Ressa.
As of Dec. 10, the magazine wrote, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018.
Who is Maria Ressa?
Ressa is the editor of Philippines independent news site Rappler, which “has chronicled the violent drug war and extrajudicial killings of President Rodrigo Duterte that have left some 12,000 people dead, according to a January estimate from Human Rights Watch,” TIME reported.
The coverage, which has been at the center of multiple government investigations, has alarmed human rights advocates around the globe.
Duterte has called Rappler “fake news,” banning its reporters from presidential events. In November, his administration charged Rappler and Ressa with tax fraud, meaning a potential 10-year prison sentence for the 55-year-old chief executive.
The charge, TIME reported, is “widely viewed as an attempted crackdown on Rappler’s reporting.”
A warrant for Ressa’s arrest was issued on Nov. 28, while she was traveling to receive awards for her work, from the 2018 Knight International Journalism award and this year’s Committee to Protect Journalists’ Press Freedom award.
“I’m going to challenge the process and I’m going to challenge the charges,” Ressa told reporters upon returning to the Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 2. “I will continue to hold the government accountable.”
She turned herself in to authorities the next day before posting bail.
“Now is certainly not the time to be afraid,” she said outside the Pasig city regional trial courthouse, the Guardian reported. “We need to hold government to account, and part of the reason I’m here is precisely that. I’m not a criminal but I’ve been fingerprinted like a criminal. We feel that we did not get due process.
“Frankly, it’s a bit shocking to me the lengths government will go to to let little Rappler feel its power.”
“I think the biggest problem that we face right now is that the beacon of democracy, the one that stood up for both human rights and press freedom—the United States—now is very confused,” Ressa told TIME. “What are the values of the United States?”
Other finalists who made the shortlist:
- Families separated at the border
- Russian President Vladimir Putin
- “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler
- Christine Blasey Ford, who testified against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh
- March For Our Lives activists led by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in
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