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Ethiopian Marathoner: I Planned Protest for Months

Feyisa Lilesa is currently in the US on a temporary visa
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2016 12:09 PM CDT
Ethiopian Marathoner: I Planned Protest for Months
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)

(Newser) – Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathoner who crossed his wrists above his head as he crossed the finish line in the Rio Olympics to win the silver medal in a show of solidarity with Ethiopian protesters, initially said through his agent that the gesture was unplanned. But the 26-year-old, who went from Brazil to the US on a temporary visa rather than returning home, tells the New York Times now that he had been planning it for months to defy his homeland's oppressive government.

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"I decided three months before Rio if I win, and get a good result, I knew the media would be watching, the world would finally see and hear the cry of my people," he said. "People who are being displaced from their land, people who are being killed for asking for their basic rights." Click for his full interview. (Read more Ethiopia stories.)

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