Ethiopian runner in Olympics 'death' protest

Silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa, of Ethiopia, gives a protest salute during the awards ceremony after the men's marathon in Rio. (Robert F  Bukaty, AP)
Silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa, of Ethiopia, gives a protest salute during the awards ceremony after the men's marathon in Rio. (Robert F Bukaty, AP)

Rio de Janeiro - Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa marked his silver medal in the Olympic Games men's marathon on Sunday by staging a dramatic protest against his country's government, claiming his life could be in peril.

Lilesa, who was second to Kenyan favourite Eliud Kipchoge, crossed his arms above his head as he finished the gruelling event as a protest against the Ethiopian government's crackdown on political dissent.

"I have relatives in prison back home," he said.

"If you talk about democracy they kill you. If I go back to Ethiopia maybe they will kill me, or put me in prison.

"It is very dangerous in my country. Maybe I have to go to another country. I was protesting for people everywhere who have no freedom."

Human rights groups say that Ethiopian security forces have killed scores of people in recent weeks as authorities crack down on a wave of anti-government unrest in two key regions, central-western Oromia and Amhara in the north.

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