Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitri Muratov win Nobel Peace Prize

Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa

Today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov as the winners of this year´s Nobel Peace Prize, honoring them for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, and as representatives of all journalists globally fighting to protect press freedom. Free Press Unlimited congratulates them with this great achievement.

It is very special and important that this years Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to two journalists who are risking their personal safety to expose the truth. Leon Willems, Director of Free Press Unlimited: ”It is fantastic news that two of Free Press Unlimited’s long time friends win this prize. It is very important to award journalists who hold the line in the news industry, as guardians of the truth. Holding governments accountable while facing hostility from their presidents.” This recognition comes at a time when press freedom is under more pressure than ever before. Due to aggressive rhetoric from those in power, increasing physical attacks against journalists, (online) threats, legal attacks, and smear campaigns against independent media, many journalists worldwide are under constant pressure.

Maria Ressa is a globally renowned Filipino journalist, and CEO of Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. This has caused Ressa to be a target of the regime. There are dozens of lawsuits against her in the Philippines, mainly brought by friends of President Duterte. "They accuse her of spreading fake news," says Leon Willems. "The award of the Nobel Prize is really incredibly important. For years there have been fears that she will be murdered or disappear under lock and key, but the prize makes it more difficult to put her under lock and key."

Free Press Unlimited has supported Ressa for a long time already in her fight against the corrupt government. Last year Free Press Unlimited awarded Ressa with the Most Resillient Journalist Award, and we have been part of the #HoldTheLine coalition to help support Ressa and defend independent journalism in the Philippines.

Dmitry Muratov is editor-in-chief and founder of Novaya Gazeta, one of the few remaining independent newspapers left in Russia today, a strong beacon of critical and independent information in a very repressed environment. The Nobel Committee states that: The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media. Novaya Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder, six of its journalists have been killed. Despite the hardships, Muratov has continued his important work.

Free Press Unlimited is very happy with the recognition that this award gives to the importance of press freedom in society. Press freedom is a vital component of democracy, and essential to a well informed public. We need to protect and defend these fundamental rights.

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