Voices from across the world demand the release of Ola Bini

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By Web Master

On April 16, a press conference was held in Quito, Ecuador about Ola Bini’s case with his parents and lawyer, in which they highlighted the procedural irregularities of the case and the violation of his human rights

The arrest and detention of Swedish software developer and privacy activist Ola Bini by Ecuadorian authorities has triggered international outrage. A host of organizations, including many from the technology sector, have mobilized in defense of Bini. He was arrested at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport on April 11 when he was trying to board a flight to Japan.

On April 16, a press conference was held in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, about the case.  At the press conference, in addition to Bini’s lawyer, Carlos Soria, his parents, Dag Gustafsson (father) and Görel Bini (mother) participated after having traveled from Europe to “bring their son home”.

Bini’s parents denounced the grave human rights violations suffered by him over the past few days. Ola Bini is a renowned Free Software developer and privacy advocate of Swedish origin and has been legally living and working in Ecuador for the past several years. His arrest was marked by a number of irregularities and a violation of his basic human and personal rights. After his arrest, Bini was held in detention for nearly 30 hours without a hearing and only was able to access a lawyer after 17 hours. He was also denied the right to an interpreter.

These grave human rights violations suffered by Bini were denounced by his parents and his lawyer at the press conference yesterday. They also highlighted that the Ecuadorian state was violating his “right to freedom of expression, the right to ideology, the right to legal guarantees”. Furthermore, the Swedish embassy was not notified upon the arrest of Bini, who is a Swedish citizen, violating international protocol on such matters. Until now, the diplomatic actions taken by the Swedish government to help their citizen are still unknown. In light of this, his parents asked Swedish authorities to “help them in all that they can”.

Bini’s lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Soria, said that there were several “irregularities in the arrest of Ola Bini”. It was only on Monday, April 15 that it became public that he is being accused “alleged participation in the crime of assault on the integrity of computer systems” by the Attorney General of the Andean country. The court ordered a 90-day detention of the Swedish citizen while the case was investigated. Meanwhile, hsi accounts have been frozen and his home was raided.

During the conference, his parents pointed out that their son’s trip to Japan had been planned months ago, responding to claims that Bini had been attempting to flee Ecuador. Dag Gustafsson, Bini’s father, said, “It seems that in this government, the protection of rights and freedom of expression has decreased”.

Hours prior to his arrest, the Interior Minister of Ecuador Maria Paula Romo declared that the government was about to apprehend individuals who are supposedly involved in trying to establish a piracy center in Ecuador, including two Russian hackers, a Wikileaks collaborator and a person close to Julian Assange. She stated: “We are not going to allow Ecuador to become a hacking center, and we cannot allow illegal activities to take place in the country, either to harm Ecuadorian citizens or those from other countries or any government.” However, neither she nor any investigative authority has provided any proof to back these claims.

Following the press conference, his parents went to see their son in the center where he is currently being held. They reported that Bini had received several threats while there and fears for his safety.

Various and international organizations are part of a global campaign to #FreeOlaBini. The free software and digital privacy communities across the world see the detention of Bini as an attack on all who defend digital rights and security.

The Attorney General of Ecuador published photos of “evidence” that they collected from his home when they conducted the raid, and the photos displayed hard disks, USBs, computers and other electronic devices, standard for someone who is a software developer. Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist of Thoughtworks posted on Twitter after the AP reproduced the photo “From the AP article, it appears this photo is being used as evidence of suspicious material to support the detention of @olabini . How many of my readers have this much electronics (or more) in their house?” Several programmers, developers and other members of the free software community responded to the call published their own electronic devices.

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