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Nobel laureate Maria Ressa acquitted in Philippine tax case

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa acquitted in Philippine tax case
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, the CEO of news site Rappler, outside the Court of Tax Appeals in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on 18 January 2023. The tax court acquitted Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corporation of four tax evasion charges that were filed in 2018 during the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Rolex Dela Pena)

Philippines Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and her news site Rappler were acquitted of tax fraud by a trial court on Tuesday, in another legal victory for the embattled journalist.

Ressa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 alongside a Russian journalist, is head of Rappler, which earned a reputation for its intense scrutiny of former President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly war on drugs.

After the verdict was announced, Ressa told reporters she felt “good” about the court’s decision.

Her acquittal was expected after she was cleared of similar tax charges nine months ago.

Those charges stem from a 2018 government indictment that accuses Ressa and Rappler of dodging tax payments after failing to declare proceeds of a 2015 sale of depositary receipts to foreign investors.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Nobel laureate Ressa cleared in Philippine tax case, cheers win for justice

Ressa (59) is currently on bail and was convicted in 2020 for cyber libel in one of several cases against the website filed by government agencies. She maintained those cases were politically motivated.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, who has been in office for 14 months, has said he would not interfere in the court cases against Rappler.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa rails against social media disinformation in ‘How to Stand Up to a Dictator’

Rappler is still operating unhindered pending its appeal against a closure order from the securities regulator.

The Philippines is ranked 132 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, describing its media as “extremely vibrant despite the government’s targeted attacks and constant harassment” against journalists who are “too critical”. Reuters/DM

(Reporting by Mikhail Flores; Editing by Martin Petty and Kanupriya Kapoor)


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