Filipino journalist Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov of Russia have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to protect freedom of expression.
The United Nations human rights office announced on Friday that the award was “recognition of the importance of the work of journalists in the most difficult circumstances”.
The Kremlin also congratulated Muratov, mentioning him as “talented” and “courageous”.
Muratov co-founded the Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, in 1993 and has been its editor-in-chief for 24 years till present. It is presently one of the very few independent media outlets in Russia and has seen six of its journalists murdered during that time.
Following the Nobel win, Muratov was cited by Russian news agency TASS as saying: “I can’t take credit for this. This is Novaya Gazeta’s. It is that of those who died defending the right of people to freedom of speech.””Ressa, who had founded investigative journalism website Rappler, has focused most of her work on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial and violent conflict on drugs.
“I’m a little shocked. It’s really emotional,” she said on Friday. “But I am happy on behalf of my team and would like to thank the Nobel Committee for recognising what we are going through.”
Speaking during a webcast after the announcement, Ressa said that journalists had “lost our gatekeeping powers to technology platforms” and called for nations to come together to stop the rise of misinformation.
She also said that despite her news website being under “the possibility of shutdown on a daily basis” she continues striving for fact-finding journalism.“
“If you keep the North Star ahead of you, you protect the facts, you hold power to account. You exercise the rights that are in the Philippine Constitution. That’s what we did, and that’s what we’ll keep doing,” she said.
The former CNN correspondent is on bail pending an appeal against a conviction last year in a cyber-libel case, for which she has to face up to six years in prison. Two other cyber-libel cases were dismissed earlier this year.
The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (more than $1.14m).The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who passed away in 1896.