Russia sentences Meta spokesperson in absentia for ‘justifying terrorism’

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Russia has sentenced Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in absentia to six years imprisonment on the charge of “justifying terrorism,” Russian state news agency TASS reported on April 22.

Russia already declared Meta, the tech giant behind Facebook, Instagram, Threads, and WhatsApp, an “extremist organization” in 2022.

The case against Stone was filed shortly after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as Russia claimed Meta “decided not to block calls for violence against the Russian military on its social networks,” Russian independent media outlet Meduza said.

State prosecutors demanded Stone be sentenced to seven years in a maximum security prison, the maximum possible sentence for the crime of “justifying terrorism,” according to Meduza.

As well as six years imprisonment, the court also ruled that Stone should be “banned from administering websites for four years,” Meduza said. Since Stone lives in Washington, D.C., it is unclear how Russia plans to enforce the ruling.

Russian independent media outlet Mediazona reported on November 2023 that Stone had appeared on the Russian Interior Ministry’s wanted list.

Other foreigners on the federal wanted list include Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Ukrainian Eurovision winner Jamala, the heads of the International Criminal Court, and Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency.

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