Embattled Philippine journalist Maria Ressa testified Thursday in a Manila courtroom in her trial on tax evasion charges.
The charges against Ressa, the publisher of the online news site Rappler, are among a slew of civil and criminal legal challenges that she and other critics say is an attempt by President Rodrigo Duterte to stifle her and other journalists.
The latest case involves accusations by prosecutors that Rappler’s parent company should have paid sales taxes because it deals in financial securities, a charge Ressa dismissed as “ridiculous” as she headed into the courtroom Thursday.
“I spoke the truth, and I feel good!,” Ressa said on Twitter shortly after her testimony.
Ressa is a former CNN journalist and one of Time magazine’s persons of the year in 2018 when it celebrated journalists around the world, including murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Ressa and Rappler have been the target of several lawsuits and tax evasion charges. She and colleague Reynaldo Santos were convicted in June of libel over a 2012 story that cited an intelligence report linking wealthy businessman Wilfredo Keng to drug dealing and other illegal activities.
Press freedom advocates say the legal cases against Ressa are part of a broader effort by Duterte to quash all forms of dissent and scrutiny of his administration, especially of a brutal anti-drug crackdown that has left thousands of people dead.
Lawmakers loyal to Duterte voted overwhelmingly last year to deny radio and television broadcaster ABS-CBN a renewed 25-year operating license, forcing the nation’s top broadcaster to shut down.