Meta spokesperson Andy Stone sentenced to six years by Russian court

A Russian 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 organization in Russia, and its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms have been banned in the country since 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Besides six years of detention in a colony settlement for inciting terrorism, the Second Western District Military Court banned Stone from managing internet resources for four years, the Russian News Agency TASS reported.

After the verdict was read, Stone's lawyer, Valentina Filippenkova, told TASS she would appeal the sentence. "I asked for an acquittal," she was quoted as saying.

The prosecutors had asked for a seven-year sentence under the Russian Criminal Code Article 205.2, Part 2, accusing Stone of “public incitement to commit terrorist acts, public justification of terrorism or propaganda of terrorism.”

The punishment for being found guilty of violating Article 205.2, Part 2 can range from a monetary fine to 5-7 years in prison, TASS said.

Meta Dir. of Communication Andy Stone

In February, the court issued had issued an arrest warrant for Stone in absentia on charges of inciting terrorism and other terror-related activities dating back to March 2022.

According to TASS, the investigation states that on March 11th, 2022, Stone posted comments on his social media accounts – specifically on X (formally known as Twitter) – “advocating aggressive, hostile and violent actions against Russian servicemen participating in the special military operation [against Ukraine].”

Russian investigators also stated the posts also contained public calls to “commit deadly terrorist attacks against the servicemen.”

Additionally, this past February, the Meta spokesperson was added to Russia’s official “terrorist and extremist” watchdog list.

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

Russia's interior ministry opened the criminal investigation into Stone late last year.

The accusations against the Meta Communications Director came just weeks after the February 24th invasion of Ukraine, after Russian media outlets were banned from all Meta social media platforms.

The Kremlin responded by banning Facebook and Instagram throughout the nation, and officially declared Meta and its employees an extremist organization.

Stone has labeled his comments as a “form of political self-expression."

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