Maria Ressa, Philippine Journalist and Nobel Laureate, Is Acquitted of Tax Evasion
MANILA — The Nobel laureate Maria Ressa was acquitted of tax evasion on Wednesday, a rare legal victory after numerous setbacks in her fight to keep publishing her news site Rappler, whose run-ins with the Philippine authorities have become emblematic of the country’s declining press freedoms.
A Philippine court acquitted Ms. Ressa on four charges of tax evasion. She would have faced a maximum sentence of 34 years if convicted.
“Of course, it should be acquittal,” she said in an interview on Tuesday night. “But if not, we’ll continue to fight.”
The verdict is a victory for Ms. Ressa and Rappler under the new administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has benefited from disinformation and tried to downplay his father’s brutal dictatorship. Advocates had urged Mr. Marcos to demonstrate his stated commitment to a free press by intervening in Ms. Ressa’s favor.
There are several other active cases pending against Ms. Ressa and Rappler. She is appealing her June 2020 conviction on a cyberlibel charge.
Jason Gutierrez reported from Manila and Vivek Shankar from Seoul. Mike Ives contributed reporting.