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  • Dag Gustafsson (L) greets his son Ola Bini, a Swedish software developer, at court after a local judge ordered him jailed for alleged involvement in hacking computer systems, in Quito, Ecuador May 2, 2019

    Dag Gustafsson (L) greets his son Ola Bini, a Swedish software developer, at court after a local judge ordered him jailed for alleged involvement in hacking computer systems, in Quito, Ecuador May 2, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 May 2019

Ola Bini will continue in jail despite his imprisonment being illegal under Ecuadorean law.

Programmer and digital privacy activist Ola Bini was denied bail again Wednesday evening by an Ecuadorean judge, continuing his indefinite imprisonment that is currently at 51 days.

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UN: 'Nothing in This Story Connects Ola Bini With Any Crime'

Prosecutors have, so far, failed to formally charge the 37-year-old Swede with violating any Ecuadorean law, prompting one of his lawyers, Jose Davalos, to tweet that “Ecuador's justice system, yesterday and today, is at the service of power.” He accused Yadira Proaño, presiding over the case, of being “nothing more than a tool to harm the innocent.”

According to local media, Judge Proaño denied Bini’s bail, in part, because the state attorney general has not yet been able to determine who Bini has potentially affected with the crimes he has not been charged with. Neither was a bail amount decided on by the court.

The open source developer was arrested April 11 as he was trying to take a flight from Ecuador, where he as been living for several years, to Japan. His arrest took place just hours after Julian Assange was removed from Ecuador’s embassy in London since being held there since 2012.

Bini was initially accused of conducting an "assault on the integrity" of computer systems, and has been held in preventative detention since April 13. Ecuador’s Regional Foundation of Human Rights (INREDH), however, points out that according to national law, this accusation, were it even a charge, does not qualify for holding Bini captive. In Ecuador, there are only four reasons why bail cannot be granted: when the crime is against a minor, disabled or elderly person; crimes with a sentence of over 5 years, when the person has violated previous bail conditions, and crimes of intrafamilial violence.

The May 29 ruling flies in the face of the legal parameter in dubio pro reo that says a court cannot convict a defendant when doubts about his or her guilt remain.

“Ola is clearly now a political prisoner,” the FreeOlaBini campaign declared after the decision was made by Judge Yadira Proaño, who denied his request arguing that “since the Attorney General’s Office has not stated the amount of the alleged damage, the amount of the bail cannot be set.”

In late April, 130 renowned activists and scientist submitted a letter to Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, demanding him to take “firm, immediate action” to ensure Bini’s release. The letter was signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Argentinian activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, and actors Pamela Anderson and actor Danny Glover.

The freeolabini.org website has posted several letters penned by Bini himself from prison. In a May 22 letter to Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, the imprisoned tells the head of state: “5 weeks ago I was detained at the Quito airport. This detention was improper, illegally done and broke my human and constitutional rights in a number of ways, and those problems continue to persist during the five weeks I’ve spent in prison.

“Now, this is where I’m confused. Why did you do all this to me? Do you hate me so much? For what? Yes, I know I’m a friend of your former asylee and you and Mr. Assange have had your differences but, is that really enough to treat me like this?”

The passage refers to the arrest and imprisonment of whistleblower Julian Assange by U.K. authorities after Moreno lifted his asylum status in April. The move facilitated the United States to bring 17 more charges against Assange under its Espionage Act.

Bini went on to say to Ecuador's head of state: “Your prosecutor says I’m being investigated for attacking the integrity of computer systems. But he doesn’t say more, except that my books are suspicious. What systems did I attack? When? How? Do you even know? I don’t.”

Bini has also reported on conditions in his cell block where are “between 80 and 90 prisoners ... around half of those are always sick.” He blamed part of that on “bad sanitation, we have little clean water, but mostly it’s because we are a lot of people crammed together in one small space.”

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