United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has congratulated two journalists, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, for winning the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

The UN chief noted that the award was a recognition that a free press was essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.

Philliipine’s Ressa is Chief Executive and cofounder of online news outlet Rappler; Russia’s Muratov is the cofounder and editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

Guterres said society can’t be free and fair without journalists who investigate wrongdoings, bring information to citizens, hold leaders accountable and speak truth to power.

The ex-Prime Minister of Portugal condemned the growing violence and harassment against journalists, in-person and online.

“Free and independent journalism is our greatest ally in combating misinformation and disinformation”, he stressed.

Following stories critical of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte and his drugs war, the 58-year-old faced multiple criminal charges and investigations.

Ressa was arrested for “alleged crimes related to the exercise of her profession” and subjected to a campaign of gendered online threats and harassment.

The ex-lead investigative journalist for Asia at CNN and head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs was among journalists named in 2018 as Time Magazine’s Person of The Year.

Muratov’s newspaper has remained consistent in checking the President Vladimir Putin administration.

Novaya Gazeta too has faced threats and harassment over reports, including coverage of human rights abuses in Chechnya.

The prestigious prize came a day after the 15th anniversary of the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, one of six murdered Novaya Gazeta reporters.

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