Media freedom in the Philippines suffered a “devastating blow” with the conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa for cyber libel over an 8-year-old article, international watchdog Human Rights Watch said.

A Manila court sentenced Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. to at least 6 months up to 6 years in prison over the 2012 story that linked a businessman to alleged illegal activities

The verdict against Ressa “is a devastating blow to media freedom in the Philippines,” said the New York-based group.

“The Rappler case will reverberate not just in the Philippines, but in many countries that long considered the country a robust environment for media freedom.”

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