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News > Ecuador

WikiLeaks 'Collaborator' Ola Bini in Preventative Custody

  • Ola Bini was arrested Thursday evening at the Quito Airport where he was due to fly to Japan.

    Ola Bini was arrested Thursday evening at the Quito Airport where he was due to fly to Japan. | Photo: Twitter / @ciespal

Published 13 April 2019

The Swedish computer scientist and cyber-activist has had his bank account frozen by Ecuadorean officials while a 90-day investiation is carried out.

Swedish programmer and digital privacy activist Ola Bini has been placed in preventative detention by Ecuador’s Criminal Unit judge for the crime of cyber-attacking computer systems.

Alleged WikiLeaks Collaborator Ola Bini Arrested in Ecuador 

Judge Rodolfo Navarrete accepted the request of prosecutor Fabian Chavez to put Bini in custody and ordered a 90-day fiscal investigation of Bini's accounts that have also been frozen.

The judge dismissed allegations of human rights violations against Bini as presented by his lawyer, Carlos Soria who declared that Bini was arrested without his rights explained to him in his native language. The Swede was also unable to contact his lawyer after he was taken into custody April 11 for more than thirty hours. Ecuadorean law establishes that initial detentions cannot exceed twenty-four hours.

As of Saturday, the state prosecutor's office has 90 days to collect evidence for future hearings.

Ecuadorean police arrested Bini for allegedly attempting to destabilize the government by “collaborating” with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange was controversially stripped of his asylum status by Ecuador's current administration under President Lenin Moreno last Thursday. He was immediately arrested by British authorities in the South American country's UK embassy located in London.

Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said in a Thursday interview with a local media that the arrest was made for “investigative purposes,” though she did not name Bini, whose arrest took place at Quito Airport, Ecuador while he was on his way to Japan.

WikiLeaks Says Assange Spied On in Ecuador Embassy

“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,” Romo said at a Thursday evening press conference.

She alleged that Bini had worked with “two Russian hackers” also living in Ecuador, though it's still unclear if others have been apprehended in the case. Romo said that descriptions of the persons were being given to prosecutors.

Outspoken critic of Moreno, former president Rafael Correa called Bini an "Ecuadorean political prisoner." Moreno served as Correa's vice president during his first term.

Ola Bini, an author and prominent advocate for free software and comprehensive digital privacy, has worked with a variety of organizations on anonymity and secure communication.

In his last tweet before his arrest, Bini accused Ecuador's government of a witch hunt.

On Thursday, Assange was charged with "computer hacking conspiracy" by the United States Department of Justice, hours after he was arrested by British police in the Ecuadorean Embassy where he had lived under asylum protections since 2012.

U.S. prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against Assange for trying to access a U.S. government computer system containing classified information in 2010 with the aid of former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Manning has been back in U.S. dentention since March for refusing to testify before a grand jury in the case.

Assange faces a maximum prison sentence of five years if found guilty by U.S. courts, the justice department said in a statement. The founder of WikiLeaks was arrested on Thursday by British police and evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy, after Ecuador abruptly ended seven years of asylum in a decision that his supporters say violates several international human rights conventions.

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