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Journalists advocate of freedom of the press awarded 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

Saturday, October 9th 2021 - 09:21 UTC
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Both journalists were recognized “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” Both journalists were recognized “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Russia's Dmitry Muratov.

Muratov is one of the founders of the Novaja Gazeta independent newspaper, while Ressa is co-founder of the Rappler website.

Both journalists were recognized “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace,” the Committee Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in Oslo.

Ressa, 58, a former CNN journalist and co-founder of the online information page Rappler, has in recent years been the subject of several investigations, legal proceedings and has suffered intense cyberbullying. Rappler has published articles critical of the head of state, Rodrigo Duterte, including his bloody and controversial fight against drug trafficking.

“Nothing is possible without facts,” said Ressa, after receiving the news of the Nobel Prize, and insisted that “it is the best time” to be a journalist. “The most dangerous moments are also the moments when journalistic work is most important,” she explained in an online interview broadcast by Rappler. Ressa, who also has American nationality, was already awarded in April the Unesco / Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom 2021 Prize, created in memory of the Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano assassinated in 1986.

“Journalism will test you mentally, intellectually, physically, morally,” said the reporter, who acknowledged that Rappler would not have survived without the support it received in the last five years of harassment by Philippine authorities. Ressa was named Personality of the Year along with other journalists by Time magazine in 2018 for her fight against Duterte's misinformation apparatus.

Ressa also faces seven criminal charges for alleged tax evasion and violation of media property laws. She was convicted in June 2020 of cyberdefamation by a Philippine court. After being sentenced, she warned that “democracy is dying little by little” due to the rise of authoritarian and populist leaders such as Duterte and warned of manipulation on social media, especially on platforms such as Facebook.

Meanwhile, the 59-year-old Muratov is one of the founders and editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He “has for decades defended freedom of expression in Russia under increasingly difficult conditions,” the Nobel jury found. Novaya Gazeta has exposed “corruption, police violence, illegal arrests, electoral fraud and 'troll farms',” the committee also noted. Six Novaya Gazeta reporters have been killed so far.

Muratov dedicated the award to them: “I can't take credit for it. It's from Novaya Gazeta. It's one of those who died defending people's right to freedom of expression,” he said. “I would have voted for the person the bookmakers were betting on, and that person has the whole future ahead of him. I mean Alexei Navalni,” Muratov said about Russia's opposition politician.

Following the announcement, the Kremlin praised the reporter. “We congratulate Dimitri Muratov, he works based on his ideals and is committed to them,” said Dimitri Peskov, spokesman for the Russian Presidency.

Novaya Gazeta was created in 1993 with the help of Mikhail Gorbachev, who used precisely a part of the money he obtained by winning the Nobel Peace Prize three years earlier. “I congratulate a wonderful, brave and honest man, a journalist, my friend Dimitri Muratov,” said the former Soviet president after the announcement of the award.

After congratulating the winners, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for stronger global efforts in favor of freedom of the press.

Ressa is the first woman to be awarded this year's Nobel Prize. After the Peace Prize, the only one announced in the Norwegian capital, the Nobel Prize winners return to Stockholm for the Economics award Monday.

Categories: Politics, International.

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