Ecuador: Digital rights activist Ola Bini goes to trial

Free Ola Bini
Ola Bini has been detained without trial in Ecuador for almost three years. Image: CodePink

The trial against Ola Bini, Swedish software developer and digital rights activist, began on January 19 in Ecuador.

The long-awaited trial comes after multiple delays, recusal of judges, documented harassment and surveillance of Bini, and constant shifting of charges from the prosecution leading to serious allegations of political interference in the case.

Digital rights advocacy groups and progressive media outlets are pushing for the Ecuadorian authorities to ensure a fair trial.

Bini was arrested in April 2019 at the Quito airport by Ecuadorian authorities, just hours after the forcible expulsion and arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Irregularities in the case can be traced back to his arrest, as the government did not file charges during or immediately after the arrest, and made baseless public allegations that Bini had supposedly conspired with Assange to commit cybercrimes and was a “Russian hacker”. Charges were eventually filed against him.

Since his irregular detention and arrest, Bini’s case was marked with a series of due process violations, which led to his release 70 days after his arrest due to a habeas corpus decision which found his detention illegal. The presiding judge in the case had to be recused, after the defense raised concerns of mistrial owing to political interference from the then Lenin Moreno administration.

The successive pre-trial process, which was finished in June 2021, also ended with a second judge being removed over allegations of “procedural fraud” for causing multiple delays in the pre-trial process.

[Abridged from People’s Dispatch.]