Ola Bini, born in Gothenburg, Sweden, is a highly recognized Free Software developer, who has made major contributions in the field of digital security and encryption. He has been an outspoken advocate of privacy as a human right as an Internet activist for many years. He has been living in the Republic of Ecuador for the past six years. There, he co-founded the non-profit organization Centro de Autonomía Digital (Centre for Digital Autonomy) in Quito with the with conviction that privacy is a human right that must be respected and was working to ensure for better privacy in the digital world.
On April 11th 2019, my brother Ola was intercepted at the airport in Quito, Ecuador, when the National Police officers prevented Ola from embarking on a trip to Japan for juijitsu training he had planned a month in advance. The arresting officers showed up with an arrest warrant for a person of Russian nationality, which Ola is not. The local media tried to frame Ola's trip as an attempt to flee the country hours after the arrest of Julian Assange who was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and subsequently arrested by British police. The government had made claims that Ola was an Assange associate and that Ola had worked for that organization. Ola has never worked for WikiLeaks, he is simply friends with the publisher and had visited him in the Embassy in London on several occasions.
In violation of police protocol, Ola was held without reason for 17 hours, without access to legal counsel before being presented before a court and charged without a shred of evidence, with "alleged participation in the crime of assault on the integrity of computer systems" and then ordered detained for 90 days on remand in a facility that was built for 400 inmates that currently houses over 4200. The Ecuadorian government had made politically motivated, trumped up allegations against Ola that he was plotting against the current president, with two unidentified Russian hackers, and as evidence, they produced USB's, hard drives and literature that were seized from Ola's home as prima facie evidence of criminal activity.
The flagrant disregard of due process and the law during Ola's arrest, the subsequent raid of his house, the confiscation of his property and the freezing of his bank accounts that ensued, are just a few of the events on an alarming list of irregularities that are in breach of his legal and human rights. Ola Bini is now confined for a 90-day pretrial period in an over-crowded facility in inhumane conditions. Ola's arbitrary detention has been cause for great alarm around the world. The Government of Ecuador has made allegations without evidence that Ola was involved the "destabilization of the Ecuadorian state".
On May 2nd, Ola lost his appeal on the preventive prison measures after the prosecution made links of his books and the technology he had as evidence of nefarious activity.
The Inter American Court has ruled in multiple cases, that preventive prison is a measure of last resort and should not be abused. Ola's case sets a very dangerous precedent for anyone working in technology in Ecuador as well as globally.
Ola's arrest and treatment have caused worldwide concern, including an open letter which was signed by over 100 public intellectuals including Noam Chomsky, Scott Ludlam, Arundhati Roy and others.
The UK based human rights organization, ARTICLE 19 has said in a statement, that Bini's arrest is "part of a crackdown against a community of developers who build digital security technology tools which enable Internet freedoms and secure communications online."
We as Ola's family, friends and colleagues, have set up this crowdfunding campaign primarily to defray the cost of his legal defense. Donations will also be used to cover his nutritional needs as he is a vegetarian; Ola received authorization to have 2 meals a day prepared outside and then delivered to the prison. Funds raised here will also be used to help cover the costs our parents have had to incur for travel to Ecuador from their native Sweden and to cover their lodging and expenses. We don't know how long this legal battle will take. We are very grateful for any financial support donated here for our family and for Ola's defense. We thank everyone for all the efforts and support Ola has received globally.
Supporters can follow for updates at https://freeolabini.org where we'll publish his writings and keep you informed about his legal case.