Russian court sentences Meta spokesperson to six years in absentia

FILE PHOTO: Meta logo is seen near computer motherboard in this illustration taken January 8, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A military court in Moscow on Monday sentenced Meta Platforms spokesperson Andy Stone to six years in prison for "publicly defending terrorism", a verdict handed down in absentia, RIA news agency reported.

Meta itself is designated an extremist organisation in Russia and its 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. Stone, Meta's communications director, 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 investigationinto Stone late last year, without disclosing specific charges.

RIA cited state investigators as saying 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.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Ros Russell)

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