the filipina Maria Resa, winner of Nobel Peace Prize for his defense of freedom of expressionwas acquitted this Wednesday along with her digital media rapper of tax evasion chargesreported an appeals court.
Ressa, who shared the award with the Russian Dmitry Muratov in 2021, he still faces three other criminal cases, including one conviction for cyber defamationcurrently on appeal, for which he exposes himself to seven years in prison.
“Today the facts win. win the truth”, Ressa told reporters outside the Manila court shortly after the court ruled in her favor on the allegation that she and Rappler evaded taxes in 2015 in a sale of bonds to foreign investors.
“These charges were politically motivated”, he assured.
The 59-year-old journalist faces a series of charges that defenders of the freedom of the press attribute to their Harsh criticism of former President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs, which claimed thousands of lives.
Ressa and Muratov won the 2021 Nobel Prize for their efforts in Defending freedom of expression.
Asked what the ruling means, Ressa replied: “Hope is what it gives us”.
Rappler later said in a statement that “an adverse decision would have far-reaching repercussions both in the press and in the capital markets”.
Despite the ruling, the future of rapperfounded by Ressa a decade ago, remains uncertain.
Currently facing a closing order for allegedly violating a constitutional ban on foreign media ownership.
The digital medium has been accused of allow strangers to control your website through the issuance of depositary receipts by your parent company, Rappler Holdings.
The Constitution establishes that only Filipinos or entities controlled by Filipinos can invest in media in the Asian country.
The case stems from an investment made in 2015 by the American Omidyar Networkcreated by the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
That network subsequently transferred its investment in rapper local managers of the site to evade Duterte’s attempts to shut it down.
The current Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos, assured in September that will not interfere in the cases against Ressaciting the separation between the Executive and Judicial powers.
Shortly after Marcos came to power last year, Ressa lost an appeal in a conviction for cyber slander.
Ressa and Rappler’s troubles began in 2016, when Duterte came to power and launched the war on drugs in which they died 6,200 people in anti-narcotics police operations, according to official data.
Human rights groups point out that thousands of people have died because of that policy.
Rappler and other local and international media questioned the legality of the policy.
The local network ABS-CBN, also critical of Duterte, lost its broadcasting licensewhile Rappler faced what press freedom advocates call a grueling string of criminal charges, investigations and cyberattacks.
The Duterte government previously indicated it had nothing to do with the cases Ressa is facing.
Earlier, NGOs Human Rights Watch (HRW) and International Amnesty (AI) on Wednesday urged the Philippine authorities to drop the charges that are still pending against the journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Resa.
In a statement, Carlos Conde, HRW Philippines researcher, applauded Ressa’s acquittal on Wednesday in the tax evasion case, which he defines as “good news” and a “victory for press freedom in the Philippines”, adding that HRW “has always defended that they were cfallacious and politically motivated arguments”.
“We hope that now the rest of the courts that are in charge of the other equally questionable charges against Maria and her colleagues from Rappler (her news portal) rule in the same way,” adds Conde.
Similarly, Butch Olano, director International Amnesty in the Philippines, in a statement welcomed the drop of tax evasion charges against Ressa, but urged authorities to “do the same with the cyber libel charges and the others still pending on her, so that she can continue doing his job.”
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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