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Email should not be considered safe for activism or political descent (or anything you want safe from prying eyes).
While it is true that encryption can render the content of your communications unreadable by third parties, the person who you exchange emails with by definition, can read your messages. They can copy them and save them or take screen shots.
Any encryption is suspect if you do not personnaly control the encryption keys. If you do not control your own keys, who ever does can decrypt your content. One option via some desktop clients may be PGP. You have to transmit your public key to recipients before they can read your messages. CLICK here for more info.
What puts you at risk is your IP address which can connect you directly to your email account. If an adversary has posed as a friend then game over because they have your messages and the email provider could provide the IP address you sent from.
Email providers may offer you an encrypted service but they may or may not protect your identity and with legal or other pressure may be compelled to aid others in exposing your identity as was the case with ProtonMail. (read)
Other risks include hackers who may be able to obtain account information or otherwise impede your delivery. If you use a paid service your payment information, unless using crypto currency, could tie your specific ID to your email accounts.
There is no reason to assume other providers have not or would not do the same.
If you are an activist who's communication could put you at risk it is wise to include other measures to protect your IP from such exposure such as a VPN used along with TOR. Use browser based email, not a desktop or smart phone app or client. Don't even think of using any Google, Apple, or any other browser for this.