“Exile is not an option,” said Rappler CEO and Nobel Peace Prize 2021 winner Maria Ressa.
In a press conference on Monday, November 22, alongside her international and Filipino lawyers ahead of the December 10 Nobel ceremony in Oslo, Ressa was asked by the foreign press if she was considering exile some place else.
“Exile is not an option, I’m Filipino, Rappler will turn 10 in January, you know and I think while it’s been horrific, there are times when it’s been really bad, there have also been times that are really good, this is a time that matters for all of us,” said Ressa.
“I think every journalist in this call feels that especially the Filipinos here. How well we do our jobs now will determine our future, so no [exile],” said Ressa, referring to the pivotal 2022 Philippine elections.
Ressa’s counsel, international human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney said she has had meetings with the White House and the US State Department to discuss the journalist’s cases – seven personal criminal cases, and one closure order against Rappler on appeal.
“It’s not only us who feel impatient on behalf of Maria, and the injustice that’s at issue here, there are also governments around the world who have expressed concern, and who have been following this and they will also be considering what is appropriate,” said Clooney.
Clooney’s co-counsel, British barrister Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC appealed to Philippine courts to authorize Ressa’s travel to Oslo, calling the Nobel award “a key moment.”
“The last thing the Philippines wants is to have an empty chair in the platform in the way that we saw in 2010 with China,” said Gallagher.
The only two times that a Nobel laureate didn’t get to receive their prizes in person were in 2010 when China barred dissident Liu Xiaobo, and in 1935 when the Nazis barred journalist Carl von Ossietzky.
Ressa is in Harvard in Boston for a series of lectures, the first time since her conviction for cyber libel in 2020 that she was authorized to go abroad. When she returns to the Philippines, she would have to wait for the courts’ ruling here if she can go to Oslo. – Rappler.com