Ecuadorean police put the Swedish programmer and digital privacy activist Ola Bini in 90-day preventative custody April 13 for allegedly attempting to destabilize the government by “collaborating” with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Bini was initially arrested two days prior at the Quito international airport as he tried to board his flight to Japan.
Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), also questioned the Ecuadorean government's decision: "The information available refers to his defense of WikiLeaks, an expert in software and possessing digital devices. But ... deprivation of liberty?" questioned the human rights expert about the decision to detain the Swede.
Kaye followed up on his Twitter account regarding the case: "Nothing in this story connects Ola Bini with any crime. Defender/expert in digital privacy, expressed support for WL (WikiLeaks), etc., insurance. But the Government of Ecuador must prove more than that, or this seems arbitrary detention."
nothing in this story connects @olabini to any crime. digital privacy advocate/expert, expressed support for WL, etc - for sure. but the govt of #Ecuador must demonstrate more than that or this looks like an arbitrary detention. https://t.co/F7IRUBc8jB
Interior Minister of Ecuador Maria Paula Romo said in an interview with local media after Bini's arrest a week ago that his detention was made for “investigative purposes.”
The minister added: "For several years now, one of the key members of this WikiLeaks organization and a person close to Mr. Julian Assange has lived in Ecuador, and we have sufficient evidence that he has been collaborating with the destabilization attempts against the government.”
She alleged that Bini had worked with “two Russian hackers" also living in Ecuador.
Meanwhile, Carlos Soria, Bini's lawyer, asserted that "the only link between my client and Julian Assange is friendship because they work in computer development. He has no collaboration with WikiLeaks or worked for WikiLeaks or works on WikiLeaks. It is a personal bond of friendship with Assange."
The judge dismissed allegations of human rights violations against Bini as presented by his lawyer who declared that Bini was arrested without his rights explained to him in his native Swedish language. The information activist was also unable to contact his lawyer for more than 30 hours after being taken into custody last week.
Ecuadorean law establishes that initial detentions cannot exceed twenty-four hours.
Free speech activists have spoken out about the government's actions against Bini.
"It is worrying that the due process has been violated," David Ochoa from Free Software Association in Ecuador told teleSUR English. "This has been made public that the lawyers did not have access (to their client, Bini); the airport is not a place to arrest people. If something happened, they should bring him to the detention place the same day ... there are problems," states Ochoa.
Bini's arrest was made the same day Ecuador's administration stripped Julian Assange of his asylum status and turned him over to British authorities. The WikiLeaks founder had been unable to leave Ecuador's UK embassy in London since 2012 for fear of extradition to U.S. on espionage charges.
A Free Ola Bini website has been created demanding his immediate release from prison in Ecuador.