(MANILA) Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, co-winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, has lost her appeal against a conviction for online defamation, her news site Rappler reported on Friday.
Posted at 6:48
Maria Ressa and her former colleague Rey Santos Jr. face lengthy prison terms, but they “will pursue any legal remedies available to them,” the outlet said. The case could go to the Supreme Court.
Rappler regretted an “unfortunate” decision that “weakens journalists’ ability to hold power to account”.
“What is ultimately at stake is our democracy, the strength of which lies in media that are not threatened by the state or intimidated by forces trying to silence critical voices,” Rappler said.
Mme Ressa has long been a vocal critic of former President Rodrigo Duterte and his murderous war on drugs that began in 2016.
Her work has earned her and her outlet, press freedom advocates say, a string of criminal charges, investigations and online attacks.
She faces eight trials, including one for online defamation, for which she was released on bail but faces up to six years in prison.
Less than two weeks ago, Philippine authorities ordered the closure of Rappler for violating “constitutional and legal restrictions on foreign property in mass media,” days before former President Rodrigo Duterte quit his job.
Mme Ressa promised Rappler would continue working after a court case and hoped things would improve with newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. replacing Rodrigo Duterte on June 30.
The latter gave little guidance on his views on the site and on the broader issue of freedom of expression.
Activists fear that this will worsen the situation of human rights and freedom of expression in the country.
Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize in October for their commitment to “freedom of expression”.