Meta spokesperson sentenced to six years in Russia

Meta Platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, are considered extremist organisations in Russia and have been banned in the country since 2022.

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A military court in Moscow has reportedly sentenced Meta Platforms spokesperson Andy Stone to six years in prison in absentia for ‘publicly defending terrorism.’ This ruling comes amid Russia’s crackdown on Meta, which was designated as an extremist organisation in the country, resulting in the banning of Facebook and Instagram in 2022 due to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.

Meta has yet to comment on the reported sentencing of Stone, who serves as the company’s communications director. Stone himself was unavailable for immediate response following the court’s decision. Stone’s lawyer, Valentina Filippenkova, indicated they intend to appeal the verdict, expressing a request for acquittal.

The Russian interior ministry initiated a criminal investigation against Stone late last year, although the specific charges were not disclosed then. According to state investigators, Stone’s online comments allegedly defended ‘aggressive, hostile, and violent actions’ against Russian soldiers involved in what Russia terms its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.

Why does it matter?

Stone’s sentencing underscores Russia’s stringent stance on online content related to its military activities in Ukraine, extending repercussions to individuals associated with Meta Platforms. The circumstances also reflect the broader context of heightened scrutiny and legal actions against perceived dissent and criticism within Russia’s digital landscape.