Philippines: Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa acquitted of tax evasion.


PhilippinesNobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa acquitted of tax evasion case

Maria Ressa and her media rabbler were acquitted of tax evasion by a Philippine judge on Wednesday, but she faces prison in three other criminal cases.

Maria Ressa in Manila on January 18, 2023.


Philippine Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and her online news site Rappler were acquitted of tax evasion on Wednesday, with the journalist congratulating herself that “the truth has won.”

Maria Ressa, who won the prestigious 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, faces three criminal charges, including a cybercrime conviction.

The 59-year-old veteran journalist, also a US citizen, was one of the fiercest critics of former President Rodrigo Duterte, who ruled from 2016 to 2022, and his violent methods in the war on drugs that has killed thousands. .

“Today the facts prevail. “Truth will prevail,” declared Maria Ressa, in an anti-press tone, after the ruling by Manila’s Court of Appeals.

The former CNN reporter and the site he co-founded, Rappler, were accused of providing false information on tax returns in 2015 following the sale of bonds to foreign investors. “These charges are politically motivated,” Maria Ressa said Wednesday. “We were able to prove that Rappler is not a tax evader.”

The journalist has been struggling for years to escape from prison. Human rights groups have said the cases against him are symbolic of the persecution of the free press in the country.


Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov were awarded in October 2021 by the Nobel Committee for their fight to “defend freedom of expression”. Asked Wednesday about the meaning of the appeals court ruling, Maria Ressa replied: “Hope. That’s what it offers.”

Despite this ruling, the future of Rappler, born a decade ago, remains uncertain. He is still fighting a legal battle against the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission order. In June, just days before the end of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency, he ordered the site shut down for violating “constitutional and legal restrictions on foreign ownership of the media.”

The still-operating news agency has been accused of allowing outsiders to take over its website by issuing “certificates of deposit” through its parent company, Rappler Holdings. According to the constitution, media investments are limited to Filipinos or Filipino-controlled companies. The allegation is based on an investment in Rappler in 2015 from Omidyar Network, an American company created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

In September, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said he would not interfere in Maria Ressa’s affairs, citing separation of powers. In October, just months after coming to power, Maria Ressa was convicted of online defamation.


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