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Journalist from Philippines Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Amer Asia ReportMANILA, Philippines (AP) - Journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her fight for freedom of expression in countries where media outlets have faced persistent attacks and reporters have been murdered. In making the award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee stressed that an independent press is vital in promoting peace. "Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda," said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, explaining why the prize was awarded to two journalists. "Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time," she said. The Nobel committee noted that Ressa in 2012 co-founded Rappler, a news website that has focused critical attention on President Rodrigo Duterte "controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign" in the Philippines. She and Rappler "have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse." Reacting to the news, Ressa told Norway's TV2 channel that "the government will obviously not be happy." "I'm a little shocked. It's really emotional," she added. "But I am happy on behalf of my team and would like to thank the Nobel Committee for recognizing what we are going through." The award-winning journalist was convicted last year of libel and sentenced to jail in a decision seen as a major blow to press global freedom. She was the first woman awarded a Nobel this year. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 media workers were killed in the Philippines in the last decade and 23 in Russia. Some critics questioned if the award respected Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel's will and its original purpose to prevent war. Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, was among those who said it was justified. "Freedom of expression is a part of democracy, and democratic systems are proven to be more stable, less likely to go to war with each other, less likely to experience civil war," Smith told The Associated Press. "I think the important thing about a media that's truly free is that it not only acts independently, but it respects the truth. And that seems to me to be also an important part not just of democracy, but also of the work towards peace." Reiss-Andersen noted that the peace prize has gone to journalists before, including Ernesto Teodoro Moneta of Italy, cited in 1907 "for his work in the press and in peace meetings." In 1935, German journalist Carl von Ossietzky was awarded the prize "for his burning love for freedom of thought and expression" after revealing that the Nazi regime was secretly re-arming in breach of the World War I peace accord. Reiss-Andersen also noted the risks to free speech in today's world due to the spread of fake news. "Conveying fake news and information that is propaganda and untrue is also a violation of freedom of expression, and all freedom of expression has its limitations. That is also a very important factor in this debate," she said. The award is accompanied by a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million). The prize money comes from a bequest from Nobel, who died in 1895.

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