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Nobel Prize-Winning Journalist Maria Ressa Acquitted of Tax Fraud Charges

Philippines ranks 132 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom index – higher than India.

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Nobel laureate Maria Ressa was all smiles on Tuesday, 12 September, after she was acquitted of tax fraud by a trial court in Philippines.

The latest: The 59-year-old journalist had beat similar tax-related charges nine months ago, according to a report by Reuters.

In a nutshell: Ressa heads a Manila-based news outlet called Rappler.

  • Rappler first became known for its intense coverage of former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly war on drugs.

  • In 2021, Ressa won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.

Why it matters: Ressa's acquittal could be seen as a larger victory for press freedom in the southeast Asian country, which reportedly ranks 132 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. For context, India slid down from 150 to the 161st spot in the same index this year.

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What she said: "The acquittal now strengthens our resolve to continue with the justice system, to submit ourselves to the court despite the political harassment, despite the attack on press freedom," Ressa was quoted as saying by Reuters.

  • "It shows that the court system works. We hope to see the remaining charges dismissed," she added.

Case details: In 2018, the Duterte-led government filed an indictment accusing Ressa and her organisation of tax evasion. It alleged that Rapler had not disclosed the proceeds of a 2015 sale of depositary receipts to foreign investors, as per the report.

Know more: Earlier, Ressa was also convicted and sent to jail in a cyber libel case lodged against the news website by government agencies.

  • She is currently out on bail and has appealed a government order requiring Rappler to close shop.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Philippines   Tax Evasion   Philippine 

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