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“There's no legal instance to extend the prosecution's investigation, as it is prohibited by Ecuador’s Penal code," Bini’s attorney, Carlos Soria tweeted.
Five days prior to the legal deadline of the investigation, the Ecuadorean Attorney General’s office announced Tuesday that it would change the charges against Swedish programmer and digital privacy activist Ola Bini, previously accused an alleged crime of attacks against information systems (hacking).
“Since the prosecution couldn't prove the alleged attack, now it requests for a change of crime. A desperate and illegal measure, five days before the end of the investigation. This case will be exemplary on how to violate the Constitution and human rights,” Bini’s attorney, Carlos Soria tweeted.
The prosecutor in charge of the process, Fabian Chavez, requested a court hearing for Thursday when the legal 90 days the government had to present the charges expire.
“There's no legal instance to extend the prosecution's investigation, as it is prohibited by Ecuador’s Penal code. No procedure can last longer than 120 days, period! So it would be violating the right to defense by not granting at least 30 days to prepare it,” Soria explained.
The new alleged crimes, that both Bini and a local professional associate Marco Arguello will face are not public yet.
Human Rights Violations in Criminal Proceedings Against Ola Bini
Bini was previously accused and jailed, without charges, by the Ecuadorean General Attorney’s office for an alleged attack on information systems. On June 20, he was released from jail after Ecuador's Provincial Court of Pichincha granted him the habeas corpus request.
Bini has reiterated many times that he is “not a hacker” but a “programmer.”
After 71 days of detention, the defense team informed they were never informed of said charges.
Prosecution in #Ecuador in a clearly desperate & illegal measure, just 5 days before the end of the investigation for alleged attacks on computer systems, -now requested a change in the criminal charges against #FreeOlaBini
The open-source developer was arrested on April 11, just a few hours after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was initially accused of participating in the "assault on the integrity" of computer systems and later, on April 13, he was placed in 90-day preventative custody, without formal charges.
On Tuesday, Amnesty International informed it has identified human rights violations and undue interference in the case by government authorities, including President Lenin Moreno and Minister of Government Maria Paula Romo.
"Ola Bini’s case demonstrates a serious contradiction in the Ecuadorean criminal justice system. Attacks on human rights defenders frequently go unpunished, while unfounded accusations against them are immediately investigated," said Fernanda Doz Costa, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
The United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights denounced the Swede’s detainment as arbitrary, saying the Ecuadorean government has nothing to connect him to Assange or to any crime.