Philippine journalist Ressa and Russian journalist Muratov will win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021

Two journalists whose work has angered the authorities in Russia and the Philippines have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and honored the right to freedom of expression, which the awards committee described as threatened across the globe.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov as this year’s winners for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace.

The pair were announced as the winners on Friday in Oslo.

“Mrs Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, at a news conference.

“At the same time, they are the representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world where democracy and freedom of the press are facing increasingly unfavorable conditions.”

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Ms. Ressa co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism in the Philippines.

She was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2018.

Muratov co-founded the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which was described by the committee as “the most independent newspaper in Russia today”.

During a live broadcast by Rappler, Mrs Ressa said she was amazed at the announcement.

“I’m in shock,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin congratulated Mr Muratov, who has been a critic of the Russian government.

“We can congratulate Dmitry Muratov,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“He works persistently according to his own ideals, he is devoted to them, he is talented, he is brave.”

The award is the first for journalists since German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935 to reveal his country’s secret post-war armaments program.

“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” Ms Reiss-Andersen said.

The UN Human Rights Office congratulated the two journalists, saying it was “recognition of the importance of journalists’ work in the most difficult circumstances”.

“Over the years, we have also seen an increase in attacks on journalists during the COVID lockdown,” said Geneva spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.

“I think I would speak for the High Commissioner (Michelle Bachelet) when I say congratulations to all the journalists out there who do their job to keep us informed and amplify the voices of the victims everywhere.”

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded on December 10, the anniversary of the death of the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the prizes in his will from 1895.

Reuters / ABC

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