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.

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."

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.