MANILA, Philippines – American actor and businessman George Clooney praised Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa for "holding truth to power" in the Philippines.
Facing reporters on the sidelines of the Los Angeles premiere of his new television show "Catch-22" on Tuesday, May 7, Clooney recalled TrialWatch's recent conference held at Columbia University, where Ressa, Jason Rezaian of Washington Post, and Mohamed Fahmy of Al Jazeera were in attendance. (READ: George Clooney throws support behind Maria Ressa)
"These are guys who all went to jail for doing their job, which is what you guys do. That is unfortunately happening more and more, not just going to jail, but also being killed," Clooney was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as saying.
But he zeroed in on Ressa, who is facing a string of cases in the Philippines as the Duterte administration slams Rappler for its critical coverage. (LIST: Cases vs Maria Ressa, Rappler directors, staff since 2018)
"Maria Ressa is the bravest of them all right now because she keeps going back (to the Philippines), risking not only jail time, but her life, in a real serious way," said Clooney.
"Rappler is a pretty amazing thing, and she was doing everything live while we were there. She is that version of us at our best, holding truth to power. So she should be supported by all of us as loudly and as often as possible," he added.
Under the Duterte presidency, Ressa has already posted bail 8 times and has been arrested twice. (READ: Maria Ressa urges journalists: Join battle vs attempts to stifle press freedom)
Ressa's cases are among the ones being monitored by TrialWatch, an initiative started by Clooney and his wife, international and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, to monitor trials targeting journalists, LGBTQ persons, women and girls, religious minorities, and human rights defenders.
In a separate interview on Tuesday, Clooney said he is proud of his wife Amal for helping detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo get presidential amnesty. The Reuters journalists were jailed in Myanmar for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis, but walked free from prison last week.
"And I have to tell you, I couldn't be more proud of my wife. I couldn't be more proud of Reuters and how they stuck up for journalism in a way that is important. It's a dangerous time... It's a dangerous time to be a journalist. So to win one, I'm very proud of my wife and congratulations to everybody," said Clooney. – Rappler.com