Biden congratulates Nobel-winning journalists for checking 'the abuse of power'

Ms Maria Ressa (left) and Mr Dmitry Muratov were honoured "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression." PHOTOS: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Joe Biden on Friday (Oct 8) congratulated investigative journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for their work promoting freedom of expression.

"Ressa and Muratov have pursued the facts - tirelessly and fearlessly," Mr Biden said in a statement.

"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."

Ms Ressa, also a US citizen, is co-founder of Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism. Mr Muratov is a co-founder of Russia's leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The pair were honoured "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace," said the chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen.

"They are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions," she said.

Ms Ressa, 58, the only woman to win a Nobel so far this year, said the prize shows that "nothing is possible without facts", referring to the links between democracy and freedom of expression.

"A world without facts means a world without truth and trust," the outspoken critic of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told a livestreamed interview with Rappler.

She told Norwegian TV2 the honour would give her and her colleagues "tremendous energy to continue the fight".

Mr Muratov dedicated his half of the prize to his newspaper's six journalists and contributors killed since 2000, who include the prominent investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

"I can't take credit for this. This is Novaya Gazeta's," he was cited by Russian news agency TASS as saying.

The newspaper on Thursday commemorated 15 years since Politkovskaya's killing.

Mr Muratov also said he would have given the award to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

The Kremlin meanwhile congratulated Mr Muratov, with President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters: "He is talented. He is courageous."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global effort to protect a free press.

"No society can be free and fair without journalists who are able to investigate wrongdoing, bring information to citizens, hold leaders accountable and speak truth to power," he said.

EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said the bloc welcomed the choice and congratulated Ressa and Muratov for their courage in following their convictions.

"We fully subscribe to the Nobel Committee's acknowledgment that freedom of expression is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace worldwide," Mr Borrell said.

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