MANILA, Philippines–Philippine Nobel laureate Maria Ressa was acquitted Tuesday of her final tax evasion charge, in the latest legal victory for the veteran journalist as she battles to stay out of prison.

Ressa smiled as the judge delivered the verdict in the years-long case, an AFP journalist inside the courtroom said.

The 59-year-old, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov in 2021, has been fighting multiple charges filed during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Ressa, a vocal critic of Duterte and his deadly drug war, has long maintained that the cases against her and the news website Rappler, which she co-founded in 2012, were politically motivated.

Ressa and Rappler had faced five government charges of tax evasion stemming from the 2015 sale of Philippine depositary receipts, which is a way for companies to raise money from foreign investors.

A court acquitted them on four of the charges in January. The fifth charge was heard by a different court, which cleared her of wrongdoing on Tuesday.

Despite the acquittals, Ressa and Rappler face an uncertain future as they battle another two court cases.

Source: Manila Bulletin (