News organization calls for lifting of travel ban imposed on Filipino journalist for Nobel Prize

The International Press Institute has called on the Philippine government to lift the travel ban on journalist Maria Ressa to allow her to travel to Norway to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The institute, in a recent statement, rejected the Philippines’ argument that Ressa is a “flight risk” with several charges against her, calling the cases “an attack on press freedom” and saying that ‘she had respected the judicial process despite the unfairness of the charges.

Ressa is CEO of Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism in the Philippines known for its critical coverage of the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. She was invited to attend the awards ceremony in Oslo on December 10.

In its statement, the Vienna-based institute called the accusations “retaliation” for critical coverage, comparing Manila’s actions to how journalists were barred from traveling to Oslo by Nazi Germany, the junta. Myanmar military and the Chinese government.

“The lawsuits against her – which are the basis of the travel restrictions – must be dropped,” said Barbara Trionfi, executive director of the institute.

“Preventing Maria from accepting her Nobel Peace Prize in person puts the Philippines in the company of some of the most repressive regimes in history,” added Trionfi.

Ressa, facing several open proceedings ranging from defamation cases to alleged violations of tax and foreign property laws, has traveled from the Philippines dozens of times, returning each time, the statement said.

The document was signed by editors in 22 countries, including those from major international media like the Associated Press and the BBC.

In addition to calling on Ressa to travel freely to Oslo and that all charges against her be dropped, the statement urges that all attacks on the media in the Philippines be stopped and investigated.

“She has shown exceptional courage in refusing to give up her commitment to independent journalism, despite the enormous pressure placed on her, including vicious attacks and smear campaigns,” the statement said.

Ressa shares this year’s prize with fellow journalist Dmitry Muratov, marking the first time that the Nobel Prize has been awarded to working journalists since 1935.

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