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Maria Ressa, Russian Journalist Share Nobel Peace Prize

Maria Ressa, Russian Journalist Share Nobel Peace Prize
Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov were named 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureates for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression and information in the Philippines and Russia, respectively.

“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in awarding the prestigious recognition.

It said Ressa and Muratov are representatives of all journalists who stand up for freedom of expression and information at a time when democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict,” it said.

“The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights,” it added.

A seasoned journalist who co-founded online news site Rappler in 2012, Ressa has been the target of attacks from President Duterte, his allies and supporters.

Describing her as a fearless defender of freedom of expression, the Norwegian Nobel Committee noted how Ressa uses this “to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism” in the Philippines.

“Ms. Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse,” it added.

Last year, she was convicted of a cyber libel charge over an investigative report released in 2012. The ruling is currently under appeal.

Meanwhile, the committee said Muratov has defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions.

He is one of the founders and currently the editor-in-chief of independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta, which has published critical articles on various subjects in Russia.

Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper’s start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaja who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

“Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write any-thing they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standards of journalism,” it stated.

Ressa and Muratov will share the Nobel Prize amount of 10 million Swedish kronor, equivalent to around P57.5 million.