NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 10:26
Philippine Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa has been acquitted of tax evasion by a court in Manila. Ressa is one of the most well-known journalists in the Philippines and is the head of news site Rappler.
“This acquittal is not just for Rappler, but for every Filipino who has ever been wrongly accused,” Ressa said after the verdict. The journalist called the allegations “politically motivated”. Human rights groups call the acquittal a victory for press freedom and the rule of law.
In the case, Ressa was accused of giving false information on a tax return after selling bonds to foreign investors in 2015. She was acquitted because there was not enough evidence. The Philippine Justice Department says it respects the court’s decision.
There are still three pending cases against Ressa. She is currently out on bail as she appeals a six-year sentence. In 2020, she was found guilty of libel. Ressa has always rejected the allegations against her and claims that the trial against her is political harassment.
War on drugs
Ressa researched former Philippine President Duterte and his war on drugs, in which thousands of people were killed. Dozens of lawsuits were filed against her, mostly by friends of Duterte. According to media watchdogs, the Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in Asia to work as a journalist.
In 2021, Ressa won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, for their efforts to promote freedom of expression and press freedom in their country. She also received the Four Freedoms Award that year, a biennial prize for civil liberties advocates. In 2018 she was named Person of the Year by the American magazine Time.
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