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Russia has issued an in-absentia jail sentence for a Meta spokesman on charges of ‘terrorism’

Reportedly, a Russian court has sentenced Meta spokesman Andy Stone to six years in prison in absentia for “terrorism” charges related to the company’s wartime content moderation policy.

Stone faced charges of “promoting,” “publicly advocating for,” and “justifying” terrorism following his March 2022 statement, in which he announced that the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, would temporarily lift its prohibition on violent language to allow comments opposing the “Russian invaders” of Ukraine.

According to Mediazona, Moscow’s Second Western Military Garrison Court on Monday convicted Stone of “justifying terrorism” and sentenced him to six years in a high-security prison in absentia.

Prosecutors had initially sought a seven-year prison term for Stone.

The prosecution decided to withdraw the charges of promoting and publicly advocating for terrorism against Stone due to “confusion in the wording of the indictment,” as reported.

After Stone’s announcement in March 2022, Meta’s President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, clarified that the policy was applicable solely to users within Ukraine.

There has been no response from either Meta or Stone regarding Russia’s criminal charges.

Following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia blocked access to Facebook and Instagram and designated Meta as an “extremist” organization.

Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has been included in Russia’s entry ban list since April 2022.

In the wake of outlawing criticism of what the Kremlin terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Russia has intensified its crackdown on independent media and social media platforms.

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