[The following is a translation of the original Spanish Press Release]
Quito, April 12, 2019. Swedish citizen Ola Bini, who resides in Ecuador since 2013, was detained at the Mariscal Sucre Airport on April 11th, 2019. Around 2PM, agents of the National Police prevented him from traveling to Japan, a trip that had been scheduled a month in advance. According to his lawyers, the agents identified themselves with an arrest warrant for a Russian national. In spite of not having a valid arrest warrant at that moment, they prevented Ola’s free movement and asked for his passport. With this information in hand, they drafted a new arrest warrant with his name on it.
According to a State Attorney General bulletin, Ola has been detained to investigate alleged illegal activities related to WikiLeaks1.
His house was raided closed to midnight. The National Police posted confiscated material on social media as though it were incriminating: USB thumb drives, mobile devices, computers, and even books2. Notwithstanding having accessed some of his electronic devices, no incriminating material has been found. The confiscated material contains work and personal information.
Ola does not speak Spanish; his whereabouts were unknown until April 12th at 8AM when he was taken to the Flagrance Unit. During this time, his lawyers assert that they did not have access to their client and were intimidated by members of the National Police. The detention was also not communicated to the Consulate of Sweden, as is required in the case of foreign citizens. As of the writing of this press release (15:16), Ola Bini is still detained without having had charges presented against him.
Ola Bini is a recognized Free Software developer and an active contributor to the Free Software communities. Aside from his activities as a developer, he has organized workshops for activists and journalists in defense of their privacy. Jillian York, director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (the most important human rights organization on the internet in the USA) declared that she has known Ola for many years and that “his arrest by Ecuadorian authorities is shocking” and it appears to be part of a “witch hunt”.3 The Association for Progressive Communications, APC, issued a press release referring to the arrest of the Swedish programmer: “We are afraid we are witnessing the beginning of a political persecution and criminalization of activists whose work is crucial to preserve our democracy.”
In this process, due process has been breached several instances:
- Swedish citizen Ola Bini was detained with an alleged arrest warrant with the intent of investigating a RUSSIAN citizen (in fact, a different person).
- Dated April 11th, 2019, a police report undersigned by Police Sergeants Cristian Camacho and Cbop William Molina states that a citizen alias “Marco” had denounced a RUSSIAN citizen through the 1-800-Delito telephone line (it is therefore not Mr. Bini).
- The same police report states that “the aforementioned citizen BINI OLA METODIUS, is one of the people that the Minister of the Interior named to the media4 as a Russian and/or Swiss hacker, member of WikiLeaks,” in spite of the fact that the recording of the press conference here referenced, does not state any names, and certainly not the name of the aforementioned citizen.
- During the arrest, a translator/interpreter was not made available.
- At the moment of the arrest, none of his rights were read, in violation of article 76 of the Constitution.
- He was detained at 15h19 according to police report number UDIDMQ8839334, notwithstanding that the detention for investigative purposes was only ordered at 22h04 via urgent proceeding number 17282-2019-0086G.
- The attorneys attempted to communicate with the detained Ola Bini between 17h00 and 18h00 during which time they called the Police office from the information counter of the Civil Aviation Directive in the international arrivals area of the Quito Airport, but they were denied access to the detained citizen, were not allowed to talk to him nor see him, nor to advise him about his rights in confidentiality.
- He was not transferred to a detention center, but rather kept at the “denied entry holding area” at the Airport, until the issuance of the urgent proceeding.
- During his stay at the Airport, he was questioned without the presence of a lawyer or translator.
- At approximately 11PM, the detained, Ola Bini, was transfer-ed from the airport in Quito on route to his home in the Iñaquito neighborhood, where the urgent proceeding was initiated.
- While the urgent proceeding continued, the police officers took the detained citizen Ola Bini to the former building of the Judicial Police, former Ministry of industries, located on the corner of Robles and Juan Leon, where they took him to an undetermined floor to leave him to sleep outdoors.
- On the following day, Friday April 12th, he was transferred at 8AM to the Flagrance Unit, where he was made to follow the admission process, as can be demonstrated in the corresponding section.
In the face of these irregularities, we call on the People’s Ombudsman, the civil society and social organizations to be observant of this case.
Attorneys for Ola Bini’s defense.