It is a bit of a stretch to assume that your loved ones will be at risk because you have made one gesture or another, says Getachew Reda.

By Thom Patterson, Ralph Ellis & Briana Duggan (CNN) |

Rio de Janeiro, BrazilOlympic marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa has nothing to fear because of a protest gesture he displayed as he crossed the finish line, Ethiopia’s communication minister said Monday.

Feyisa Lilesa won a silver medal Sunday with his arms crossed over his head in a sign of solidarity for his native Oromo people — the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

Feyisa Lilesa said he wanted to draw attention to the government’s ongoing persecution of the Oromos, but he feared that his protest had put himself into such danger that he can’t go home.

Ethiopia’s Communications Minister Getachew Reda described Lilesa as “an Ethiopian hero,” saying he “shouldn’t at all be worried” to return.

ALSO READ After ‘Oromo Protest’ Sign, Athlete Feyisa Lilesa Gets Donations

Feyisa Lilesa said he feared he would be killed or imprisoned. Some of his family members are already in prison, he said, and he said he’s worried about the safety of his wife and two children.

In response, Getachew Reda told CNN in it’s “a bit of a stretch to assume that your loved ones will be at risk because you have made one gesture or another. I can assure you nothing is going to happen to his family nothing is going to happen to him.”

Continue reading this story on CNN 
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