Biden lauds Nobel Peace Prize winners Ressa, Muratov for 'tireless, fearless' pursuit of facts

US President Joe Biden on Saturday, October 9 (Manila time), joined other world leaders in congratulating Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov for the "much-deserved honor" of winning the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

"Like so many journalists around the world, Ressa and Muratov have pursued the facts – tirelessly and fearlessly. They have worked to check the abuse of power, expose corruption, and demand transparency. They have been tenacious in founding independent media outlets and defending them against forces that seek their silence," Biden said in a statement.

He said that in the two journalists' "commitment to the basic principles of the free press – principles that are indispensable to a healthy democracy," they faced "threats, harassment and intimidation, legal action, and even, in the case of Muratov, the death of his colleagues."

"Ressa, Muratov, and journalists like them all around the world are on the front lines of a global battle for the very idea of the truth, and I, along with people everywhere, am grateful for their groundbreaking work to 'hold the line,' as Ressa so often says," Biden said.

He also lauded the Nobel committee "for honoring Ressa and Muratov’s incredible work and bringing greater attention to the increasing pressure on journalists, the free press, and freedom of expression all around the world."

The Nobel Prize committee said on Friday, October 8, that Ressa and Muratov were awarded “for their courageous fight for freedom of expression” in the Philippines and Russia and for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."

Ressa is the first Filipino individual to win the award, while Muratov is the first Russian to win the peace prize since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres was among those who congratulated Ressa and Muratov, stressing that this year’s recognition is a reminder that “no society can be free without journalists who can investigate wrongdoing and speak truth to power.”

In the Philippines, Vice President Leni Robredo, several lawmakers, and various institutions and personalities have hailed Ressa's historic feat. The Duterte government has yet to issue any statement as of posting time.

In February, Norwegian labor leader and parliamentary representative Jonas Gahr Støre nominated Ressa, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists for the 2021 Prize.

“She is thus both a symbol and a representative of thousands of journalists around the world. The nomination fulfills key aspects of what is emphasized as peace-promoting in Alfred Nobel's will. A free and independent press can inform about and help to limit and stop a development that leads to armed conflict and war,” Støre said in his nomination. – Rappler.com