Russia designates Meta an extremist organisation

Russia designates Meta an extremist organisation

Facebook-owner Meta has been designated an extremist organisation in Russia and the company’s spokesperson sentenced to six years in a penal colony in absentia, according to local reports.

A military court in Moscow on Monday passed the verdict on Meta Platforms spokesperson Andy Stone for “publicly defending terrorism”, RIA news agency reported.

Meta’s Facebook and Instagram social media platforms have been banned in the country since 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr Stone could not immediately be reached.

Interfax cited the defendant’s lawyer, Valentina Filippenkova, as saying that the sentence would be appealed.

“I asked for an acquittal,” she was quoted as saying.

Russia’s interior ministry opened a criminal investigation into Mr Stone late last year, without disclosing specific charges.

RIA cited state investigators as saying Mr Stone had published online comments that defended “aggressive, hostile and violent actions” towards Russian soldiers involved in what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Mediazona reported that Mr Stone was initially charged with calling for terrorist activity, public calls for extremist activity and publicly justifying terrorism, but the first two charges were dropped in the final version of the indictment.

The trial, in which Mr Stone was represented by a government-appointed lawyer, began on Friday and concluded on Monday after only two hearings.

Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is also banned from entering Russia, having been formally barred in April 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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