Maria Ressa of Philippines freed from tax evasion | Press Freedom News

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The Tax Court of Appeal acquits the journalist and Nobel laureate of the four charges of tax evasion, which could have sent her to prison for decades.

Philippine Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and her online news service Rappler have been cleared of tax evasion.

An appeals court ruling on Wednesday upheld Ressa in a case she has described as part of a pattern of harassment. If convicted, she would have faced 34 years in prison.

Ressa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize together with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov in 2021, is the head of Rappler, which has earned a reputation for its in-depth reporting and hard-hitting investigation of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Today, facts win. The truth wins. Justice will prevail,” an emotional Ressa said after Wednesday’s verdict.

“These accusations as you know were politically motivated, they were an abuse of power and they were intended to stop journalists from doing their jobs,” she told reporters. statement. “It is in these cases where capital markets are, where the rule of law is, where freedom of the press meets. So this exemption is not just for Rappler. It is for her -every Filipino who has ever been unjustly accused.”

The tax evasion case stemmed from allegations by the state revenue agency that Rappler had omitted from its tax returns the income from the 2015 sale of investment receipts to foreign investors aca, which became the basis for revoking his license.

The news organization is still operating and fighting the Securities and Exchange Commission’s order to shut it down.

Ressa, 59, still faces three other criminal cases, including a cyber conviction, which is currently under appeal, for which she could face nearly seven years in prison.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said in September that he would not interfere in Ressa’s proceedings, citing the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches of government.

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous places in Asia for journalists.

It was ranked 147 out of 180 countries in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index, and the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks it seventh in the world in its freedom index for 2021, which will track the deaths of members of the media whose killers go free.

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