Philippine Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa has been acquitted of tax fraud. The case was among a series of lawsuits filed against her during former President Rodrigo Duterte's tenure.
A trial court in Metro Manila issued its ruling in favor of Ressa and her online news site Rappler on Tuesday.
It was the fifth tax evasion case against them. It came after an appellate court acquitted them of four other charges in January.
Ressa spoke with reporters after the decision was announced. She said, "The acquittal strengthens our resolve to continue with the justice system...to submit ourselves to the court despite the political harassment, despite the attacks on press freedom. It shows that the court system works."
The 59-year-old journalist is known for making reports critical of the Duterte administration and its war on drugs. She became the first person from the Philippines to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 2021. The award was in recognition of her efforts to safeguard the freedom of the press.
The veteran journalist is currently appealing a conviction for cyber libel in the Supreme Court. Rappler is also legally contesting a closure order.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office 14 months ago. He has suggested any interference in court cases would be improper.