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Critics of the 74-year-old Duterte point to Ressa's previous indictments on libel and tax evasion as evidence of a deliberate attempt to thwart independent media like Rappler.
Ressa, who leads online outlet Rappler and was named a Time Magazine "Person of the Year" in 2018 for her journalism, is out on bail and faces years in prison if convicted.
Speaking in London last week at the launch of the Investigative Journal, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said the rise of technology had exacerbated attacks on media professionals, and social media had failed to take on the responsibility of journalistic integrity.
The President appeared unfazed by Clooney's involvement in Ressa's defense camp, saying Panelo, also the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, is capable of dealing with her.
'Maria Ressa is a courageous journalist who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses,' Clooney, wife of actor and filmmaker George Clooney, said in a press statement on Monday.
Ressa is the co-founder and editor of online news website Rappler, which has gained prominence for its fearless coverage of human rights abuses under President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a news statement, Lacson clarified that de Lima and Ressa, whose release was sought by US lawmakers, 'are but incidental to the intent of this resolution.'
Ms Ressa has paid a hefty bail and is for now at relative liberty, but the case comes as a chilling reminder of the manner in which the press and freedom of expression are under fire in so many countries around the world.
Ressa, CEO of the news website "Rappler," was arrested by two female police at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 6:30am as she was about to board her flight to San Francisco, USA.
She was freed on bail on bail later after her arrest sparked international censure and allegations she is being targeted over her news site's criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte.The Coalition For Women In Journalism has condemned the series of attacks and intimidations on Maria Ressa, and her resilient media organization Rappler that has been covering the important and much-censored stories in the Philippines".
Officials said Rappler and Ressa failed to declare about $3 million in 2015 on tax returns from an investment by the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.