Journalists win Nobel Peace Prize for fight to defend free expression in Russia, Philippines

Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia.

Ressa is co-founder of the investigative digital media company Rappler, which focuses on the brutal drug war of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Muratov is the founder and editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper responsible for the increasing responsibility of President Vladimir Putin authoritarian Russia.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it recognized the two for their “efforts to protect freedom of expression, which is a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace”.

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In a broader sense, the committee said it wanted to highlight the plight of journalists around the world who are in what do guard dogs say is an increasingly repressive environment.

“This award will not solve the problems journalists and freedom of expression face,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the committee, at a press conference.

“But it will help shed light on the importance of journalists’ work and how dangerous it is not just in places of war and conflict, but around the world.”

In response to the news, Ressa told a live Rappler broadcast, “I’m in shock.”

She was at the forefront of documenting Duterte’s war on drugs, the Human Rights Watch says has resulted in the deaths of more than 12,000 Filipinos, around 2,500 killed by police.

Ressa, one of Time magazine’s 2018 People, has accused her government of abusing her power to silence dissenting opinions.Bullit Marquez / AP file

Ressa was also recognized for her work documenting how social media were used to spread disinformation and harass political opponents.

As the editor of Novaja Gazeta, Muratov heads a rare independent news source in Russia. His journalists were harassed and threatened, and six of them were murdered, including Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in 2006 in her Moscow home.

“Despite the murders and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov refused to give up the newspaper’s independent policy,” said a statement by the Nobel Committee.

Although Muratov’s newspaper has often criticized the Russian authorities, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that they congratulated him.

“He works persistently according to his own ideals, he is devoted to them, he is talented, he is brave,” added Peskov.

The award is the first for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky received it in 1935 for unveiling his country’s secret post-war armament program.Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Last year’s award went to the United Nations World Food Program for his efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity around the world.

Previous winners Activist Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Almond, Martin Luther King Jr.., and four former US presidents: Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

The award is associated with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish crowns (over $ 1.14 million).

Nobel Prizes have already been awarded this week in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Literature. The Nobel Prize in Economics is still due on Monday.

But the decisions of the secret Nobel Committee do not always guarantee a life with international recognition.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the 2019 Peace Prize for ending a 20-year stalemate with neighboring Eritrea. However, its reputation has been tarnished because of its role in the conflict and deadly blockade of the northern region of Tigray in Ethiopia.

Reiss-Andersen was asked about Ahmed during the announcement on Friday.

She declined to comment specifically on him and only put the general situation in the context of this year’s award. “The situation for press freedom in Ethiopia is far from ideal and is severely restricted,” she said.

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