‘An example to many’: journalist Maria Ressa wins Unesco press freedom prize

The UN’s cultural agency has awarded its annual press freedom prize to Philippine journalist Maria Ressa whose reporting has made her a target of her country’s judiciary and online hate campaigns.
She has been involved in many international initiatives to promote press freedom, and arrested several times “for alleged crimes related to the exercise of her profession”, the UNESCO  said. She is also a former Asia lead investigative reporter for US network CNN and head of domestic network, ABS-CBN News
Ressa has been subject to a continued campaign of gendered online abuse, threats, harassment and judicial processes relating to her investigative reporting and status as manager of online outlet Rappler, which has also attracted the wrath of the Filipino leader, Rodrigo Duterte.
“Maria Ressa’s unerring fight for freedom of expression is an example for many journalists around the world,” jury chair Marilu Mastrogiovanni said in the statement.
“Her case is emblematic of global trends that represent a real threat to press freedom, and therefore to democracy,” Mastrogiovanni said.
She has been arrested a number of times for alleged crimes related to the exercise of her profession in the past.
She had vowed to continue reporting on his administration’s policies despite threats to arrest her and efforts to shut down her company.
Ressa, who is 57, was in court last month to deny charges of dodging taxes as authorities continued a crackdown against the country’s independent media. Rappler was three years ago branded a “fake news outlet” by Duterte and Ressa has since been the subject of at least 11 investigations into her business, the Guardian had reported.
Ressa has said the legal cases are payback for her criticism of the president’s policies including his war on drugs that has killed thousands of people.
According to the Guardian, last year Ressa, who was named Time’s person of the year in 2018, was convicted of cyber libel by a Manila court but is free on bail pending an appeal in a case that could see her handed six years in jail. Other cases against her are still pending.
Duterte has faced international calls to drop all charges against the veteran reporter, with rights groups saying they amount to state harassment, but the government has shown no response yet.
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