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Marathoner Who Made Anti-Government Gesture Won't Be Prosecuted, Ethiopia Says

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The government statement came shortly after Feyisa Lilesa told reporters that he may be killed or imprisoned if he ever goes back to Ethiopia.

Silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, of Ethiopia, acknowledges applause during an award ceremony after the men's marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia says the marathon runner who made an anti-government gesture at the Rio Games while approaching the finish line will not face prosecution upon his return home.

Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa crosses his arms as he crosses the finish line to win the silver medal in the men's marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The government statement came shortly after Feyisa Lilesa told reporters that he may be killed or imprisoned if he ever goes back to Ethiopia. He called protesting inside the country "very dangerous."

Silver medal Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa, crosses his arms as he celebrates on the podium after the men's marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The silver medalist crossed his wrists in an attempt to draw global attention to deadly protests in his home region of Oromia. He told reporters that Ethiopia's government is killing his people and taking their resources.

A government spokesman, Getachew Reda, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate that Lilesa "will be conferred a heroic welcome along with his team members."

It was not immediately clear whether Lilesa plans to return.

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