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Ressa arrives in court today. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

A court in the Philippines has convicted Maria Ressa, chief of the news site Rappler, of cyber libel in a trial that has been closely watched because of its implications for press freedom in the country.

Driving the news: Ressa and co-defendant Reynaldo Santos Jr were sentenced to between six months to six years in prison, but were granted bail pending appeals that could ultimately come before the supreme court. Ressa and Rappler have drawn the ire of strongman President Rodrigo Duterte for their critical coverage.

Details: The case stemmed from a May 2012 article written by Santos Jr about a businessman with links to the government.

  • The law used against Ressa was passed months later, in September 2012. It was not until 5 years later that the case was filed.
  • That would be beyond the one-year window for ordinary libel claims, but that limit is not mentioned in the newer cybercrime law.
  • The Philippine justice department also argued that since the article was updated in 2014 — to correct a minor typographical error — it would be covered by the law.
  • Rappler is facing at least 11 additional government investigations and legal cases.

What to watch: This is also a test case for the cyber libel law, which could ultimately be applied to anything posted online — not just from media outlets.

The big picture: A major broadcaster was recently pulled off the air in the Philippines, in a further erosion media independence under Duterte.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: The author is a journalist for Rappler. She is currently in the U.S., and at Axios, on a fellowship program.

Go deeper

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

4 hours ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.