Philippine Court Allows Maria Ressa to Attend Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony
The decision came after days of growing international pressure on the government to allow the journalist to attend the ceremony in Norway.,
The Court of Appeals in the Philippines said on Friday that it would allow the journalist Maria Ressa to travel to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, after the government tried to block her from attending the ceremony.
Ms. Ressa’s lawyer, Ted Te, filed the appeal last month for his client after the Philippines’ solicitor general said the journalist could not travel to Norway. The government called her a flight risk because her “recurring criticisms of the Philippine legal processes in the international community reveal her lack of respect for the judicial system.”
Ms. Ressa was awarded the peace prize in October along with Dmitri A. Muratov, a Russian investigative journalist, for “their courageous fight for freedom of expression.”
Ms. Ressa, the first Nobel laureate from the Philippines, is the chief executive officer of Rappler, a digital news organization that is well known for its investigations on disinformation and of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal five-year drug war. She is an outspoken critic of Mr. Duterte, whose government has filed seven criminal charges against her, including cyberlibel and tax evasion.
The ruling on Friday came after days of growing international pressure to allow Ms. Ressa to attend the ceremony, which will be held in Oslo on Dec. 10.
Earlier this week, the United Nations urged the Philippines to let Ms. Ressa travel to Norway, saying it was “very concerned” about the restrictions placed on her. The International Press Institute warned that blocking Ms. Ressa from the ceremony “puts the Philippines in the company of some of history’s most repressive regimes.”
The last time a government barred a Nobel Laureate from collecting an award was in 2010, when China prevented the dissident Liu Xiaobo from doing so. The only other time that an award was not collected was in 1936, when the peace prize went to Carl von Ossietzky, a German journalist detained in a concentration camp by Nazi Germany.
The Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, the leader of Poland’s Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar were also barred by their governments from attending, but their family members were allowed to collect the award on their behalf.
“We’d like to think that the Court of Appeals reached the resolution independently of any public opinion,” said Mr. Te, Ms. Ressa’s lawyer. “But the Court of Appeals is composed of human beings who are aware of what’s going on. So, of course, anything they read could possibly have an influence on how they think.”
Ms. Ressa is due to fly to Oslo from Manila on Dec. 8, according to Mr. Te. She still needs permission from two more courts to travel because of the pending cases against her.
On Thursday, a coalition of groups from the Philippines made up of rights activists and academics called on the government to allow Ms. Ressa to go to Oslo because her presence in the ceremony is “symbolic, urgent and necessary.”
“This brings great honor and recognition not only to Ms. Ressa, but to the Philippines, Filipinos both present and unborn, and all journalists whom she represents through this award,” the group stated.