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Maria Ressa needs our help
Write your elected representatives
Dear Princeton friend of Maria Ressa,
I’m contacting you again because our work on behalf of our sister alumna is not finished: It turns out that even a Nobel Peace Prize is no guarantee against unjust incarceration. That is what Maria Ressa ’86 could be facing imminently.
I am hoping that each of us can write a letter or make a phone call that might avert that possibility
As you may already know, the Philippine Court of Appeals on Oct. 10 refused Maria’s motion to reconsider her conviction on the made-up charge of “cyber-libel.” Worse, the court went out of its way to extend her potential sentence to more than six years in prison.
Maria is filing an appeal with the Philippine Supreme Court on or about Oct. 25. Once the appeal is filed, press freedom advocates who are following the case tell me, the court could rule in as little as five days without hearing oral arguments.
This is why I’m making an urgent request for each of you to contact your elected representatives in Washington. Ask your senators and your representative in the House to contact the Philippine ambassador in Washington, Jose Manuel Romualdez. Letting him know that U.S. legislators are concerned about this case and watching it could have an important impact.
You can find out how to email your senators by going to this page and navigating to your senator’s page (conveniently, you can sort by state). The senators all have contact forms accessible from their home pages which will allow you to send an email. You can follow the same procedure for your House member by navigating to this page. If you are not certain who represents you in the House, enter your ZIP code in the box at the top right corner of the page. You will need the +4 suffix, and you can find that by entering your street address here.
Generally, you cannot email members unless you live in their states or districts. But this being a Princeton crowd, I would encourage anyone who has a personal connection to any member of Congress or any of their staff members to use it.
If you are on social media, I encourage you to publicize your actions and urge your followers to follow suit. The two quote cards in this post from from the HoldTheLine Coalition, a group of press freedom and human rights organizations supporting Maria. You are welcome to use them.
The case that is posing the most imminent threat to Maria at the moment is one of — count ’em — 23 court actions the Philippine government has filed against her, her employees or Rappler, the news organization that she founded. It’s a clear attempt at censorship by a legal fee, which is why we have asked before, and ask again here, for you to help support Rappler’s journalism by becoming a Rappler+ member or by participating in the news site’s crowdfunding effort.
Finally, I should add that I am contacting you in my capacity as the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism and not as a trustee of Princeton University. I have created a Substack account for these communications because my work email will not allow me to send to more than 50 addresses at one time. That gets a bit unwieldy as we are now more than 600 strong!
If you wish to unsubscribe, you may do so here.
If you want to add a classmate or other Princeton friend to our list, you may do so here.
Thanks so much for your support of Maria Ressa ‘86.
Kathy Kiely ‘77
Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies
Missouri School of Journalism