Lawyers for the Philippine government have objected to Maria Ressa receiving her Nobel Peace Prize in person in Oslo next month, citing her as a “flight risk” in court records.
In October, the medal was given to Ressa, co-founder of the news website Rappler, and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov for their work to “protect freedom of expression.”
The former CNN correspondent has requested for court permission to go to Norway for the December 10 ceremony, despite being on bail pending an appeal against a conviction in a cyber libel case last year.
According to a copy of the document seen by AFP on Thursday, the solicitor general has submitted an objection to the Court of Appeals, stating that Ressa’s right to travel is “not absolute” and that she has not demonstrated a “compelling cause” for flying to Oslo.
“Her repeated critiques of Philippine legal processes in the international community demonstrate her lack of respect for the judicial system, resulting in her being a flight risk,” the solicitor general wrote in a November 8 declaration.
The Court of Appeals has yet to make a decision.
Ressa has been a vocal opponent of President Rodrigo Duterte and his government’s policies, particularly a deadly drug war.
Since Duterte’s election in 2016, Ressa and Rappler have faced a slew of criminal accusations, investigations, and online harassment, according to media advocates.
She has seven court proceedings pending, including an appeal of a conviction in the cyber libel case, for which she might face up to six years in prison.
Ressa, a US citizen, is currently in the US after gaining permission from the court to travel there.
It is a “disgrace for any government not to release its nationals to travel to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize,” according to the Nobel Institute.