Yekaterinburg court to issue verdict on May 11.

Russian prosecutors requested a 3.5-year sentence on Friday for Ruslan Sokolovsky, a Russian blogger charged with inciting religious hatred for allegedly playing the Pokémon Go smartphone game in a church. The trial concluded in Yekaterinburg, Russia on Friday, and the judge said the verdict will be issued on May 11.

Sokolovsky has been on trial since March. If convicted, he faces up to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Sokolovsky had been in pre-trial detention since October, when a court reversed the house arrest he had been serving at his attorney’s apartment. Sokolovsky had been released from pre-trial detention in September. According to the U.K. human rights group Amnesty International, he was not allowed to use his phone or the Internet during house arrest. Sokolovsky was originally ordered to stay in jail until November pending a trial, but filed an appeal against the arrest.

The now 22-year-old blogger reportedly posted a video on August 11, which showed him playing the game inside the Church of All Saints. He has been charged with “incitement to hatred and attacks on the liberty of faith.” The Russian Orthodox Church reportedly said the alleged provocative nature of the video led to Sokolovsky’s prosecution rather than the act of playing Pokémon Go. The church where the blogger allegedly played the game is built on the supposed site where Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, and his family were killed.

After the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot performed in protest at a Moscow church and recorded a music video there, three members were convicted of the same offense of “incitement to hatred and attacks on the liberty of faith.” The three members were sentenced to two years in prison in 2012, although one member had her sentence suspended.

Pokémon Go is already banned in Iran due to security concerns, and developer Niantic Labs disabled the game in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in August.

The Pokémon Go app launched in select countries including the United States on July 6, and has since launched in more than 50 countries.

Source: ABC News
Featured image: Twitter/tech_newsUS

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