Philippines’ Nobel laureate Maria Ressa loses appeal of cyber libel conviction

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Philippines’ Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa lost her appeal against a conviction for cyber libel, her news website Rappler said Friday, in the latest blow for the veteran journalist.

Ressa and her former colleague Rey Santos Jr face lengthy jail sentences, but the company said they will “avail of all legal remedies available to them,” including taking the case to the Supreme Court.

The ruling comes less than two weeks after Philippine authorities ordered Rappler to shut down ahead of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s last day in office.

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Rappler on Friday described the decision to uphold the conviction as “unfortunate,” saying it “weakens the ability of journalists to hold power to account.”

“What is ultimately at stake is our democracy whose strength rests on a media that is not threatened by the state nor intimidated by forces out to silence critical voices,” Rappler said.

Ressa has long been a vocal critic of Duterte and the deadly drug war he launched in 2016, triggering what media advocates say is a grinding series of criminal charges, probes and online attacks against her and Rappler.

She and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov were awarded the Nobel Peace prize in October for their efforts to “safeguard freedom of expression.”

Ressa is fighting at least seven court cases, including the cyber libel case, for which she has been on bail and faces up to six years in prison.

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