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Covington Serving as U.S. Counsel to Philippines Investigative Journalist

August 22, 2019

WASHINGTONCovington announced that the firm will be serving as part of an international team of lawyers representing media pioneer Maria Ressa, CEO, Cofounder and Executive Editor of Rappler, one of the leading online news platforms in the Philippines, as well as representing Rappler itself.

Covington will be serving as U.S. counsel and will coordinate as needed with domestic counsel in Manila, including advising on U.S. litigation options, the U.S. policy environment, and building awareness within the business and non-governmental organization community of Ms. Ressa’s and Rappler’s position. The Covington team will be led by partners Peter Lichtenbaum and Kurt Wimmer in Washington, D.C. The Covington team will work with the international team representing Ms. Ressa and Rappler, led by Amal Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, barristers at Doughty Street Chambers in London, working alongside barristers Can Yeginsu and Katherine O’Byrne.

An award-winning journalist, Ms. Ressa was formerly lead investigative reporter in Southeast Asia for CNN and has been recognized with multiple honors for her journalism. She was one of four journalists named as Time's 'Person of the Year' in 2018 for taking "great risks in pursuit of greater truth."

Filipino authorities aggressively targeted Ms. Ressa and Rappler in the wake of their exposés uncovering human rights abuses and reporting on the manipulation of social media by President Rodrigo Duterte's administration in order to disseminate government propaganda. The Filipino government has subjected Ms. Ressa and Rappler to arrests and criminal charges for alleged securities fraud, tax evasion and cyber-libel and the attempted revocation of Rappler's license to operate.

“The sustained assault on Maria Ressa and Rappler's press freedom represents just one example of governments tightening their grip and prosecuting journalists who dare to report on critical topics such as human rights abuse,” said Peter Lichtenbaum. “We look forward to helping Maria and Rappler so they are able to continue doing this vital work.”

"We have been targeted and attacked simply because we're independent journalists," said Maria Ressa. "I am pleased Covington is joining this important fight to defend a free and independent press against those who would use threats and intimidation to hide the truth. The resolve of our international legal team is proof of the global concern about the violation of our rights and the continuing attacks against journalists. When journalists are under attack, democracy is under attack."

 

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