Software developer and privacy activist Ola Bini is to continue in pre-trial detention in Ecuador His plea against the detention was rejected by an appeals bench of a Quito provincial court on May 2. The appeal was filed at the provincial court in April 11, and the judges decided to reject it in a 2-1 decision.
Ola Bini’s advocate Dr. Carlos Soria told reporters, “There is no name for what has been done today; it shall be denounced in Ecuador and abroad.” He also added that “We feel utterly humiliated, and vulnerable after the decision today.” The case has received very little coverage from the international press.
The prosecution claimed Bini was closely associated with Julian Assange. However, they did not provide any proof of wrongdoing. One of the arguments was that Bini had met Assange on several occasions at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the latter was in asylum for nearly 7 years. During this time, a number of people, including prominent journalists, also met Assange.
Apart from the embassy visits, the prosecution’s ‘evidence’ consisted of certain books on hacktivism and privacy rights, and the fact that he had subscribed to an internet service provider, TelecoNet, which is under investigation over fraud charges. Again, thousands of Ecuadorians have subscribed to this network
Bini’s defense team brought attention to the absurdness of the prosecution’s arguments. Soria pointed out that the possession of books that are perfectly legal, is not grounds for imprisonment. He also argued that the prosecution’s insinuation that a subscription to a perfectly legal service provider, like thousands of Ecuadorians who do the same, does not implicate one in the fraud that has been investigated. However, the judges did not accept these arguments, and after a few hours of deliberation, dismissed the appeal and decided to put Bini back in prison.
Bini, a Swedish national and a privacy activist, has worked as a software developer in Ecuador for years. He was detained at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport at Quito, where he was to board a plane to Japan, on April 11. This came within hours of a press conference by the interior minister of Ecuador about certain “Russian hackers” in the country who had worked with Assange. Bini was allowed access to his lawyer only after 17 hours of detainment, and has since been transferred to a prison in Quito, for pre-trial imprisonment.
Activists have condemned the continued imprisonment of Bini. Lawyer and human rights activist Renata Avila called on the Swedish embassy to intervene in the matter, citing the flimsiness of the case against a Swedish citizen.