Maria Ressa wins Tully Award for Free Speech

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa has won the 2018 Tully Award for Free Speech.

The annual award from the Tully Center for Free Speech at the Newhouse School in Syracuse University (SU) is given “to a journalist who has shown courage in facing a free speech threat,” according to the Tully Center website.

Ressa was chosen by a group of SU faculty and students from among a pool of nominees identified by an international panel of journalists and lawyers.

She will visit the campus in Syracuse, New York, to attend the awarding ceremony on April 24.

A report on her award on the SU website quoted Roy Gutterman, associate professor and director of the Tully Center, who said: “Maria represents an important voice and delivers important news at a critical time in the Philippines. She does this under constant threat to her freedom and safety.”

Ressa and Rappler have been under threat since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power in 2016. The Philippine leader had repeatedly attacked Rappler in public addresses, following its investigative reports on his bloody campaign against illegal drugs. (READ: Rappler on latest case: Pattern of harassment has not stopped)

Ressa was arrested on February 13 on a cyber libel charge. In March, she was arrested for alleged violation of the anti-dummy law. She posted bail in both cases. (LIST: Cases vs Maria Ressa, Rappler directors, staff since 2018)

Ressa's latest award was announced days after her surprise award at the inaugural BOLD Awards on April 5, at the H-Farm innovation platform in Venice, Italy.

Ressa was also named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" 2018, alongside several other journalists under siege in their respective countries, including slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are still currently imprisoned in Myanmar.

In the same year, she won the coveted Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), and the  2018 Knight International Journalism Award. –