The much-awaited trial of Swedish software developer and digital rights activist Ola Bini resumed in Ecuador on Monday, May 16. The current leg of the trial against Bini is continuing with the proceedings from an earlier three-day session that was held in January this year. The ongoing session will be on till Friday, May 20 and is expected to conclude the trial portion of the proceedings. The trial began after more than five hours of delay as the translator assigned for Bini arrived late to the court due to a reported misunderstanding. Bini has been charged with one count of illegal, non-consensual access to a computer or communications system, which carries a jail sentence of anywhere between three to five years. He was arrested in April 2019 by the Ecuadorian police in a process marred by major procedural lapses.
Last week, one of the most important digital rights cases took place in Quito, Ecuador. Ola Bini, a software designer who makes tools for activists to protect their privacy, was arrested at the Quito airport in April, 2019 just hours after Julian Assange was taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Bini has been detained in Quito for almost three years. His prosecution has been fraught with irregularities. Clearing the FOG speaks with Veridiana Alimonti, a human rights lawyer and the Associate Director for Latin American Policy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, about the case, its connections to the Julian Assange case and the broader assault on our digital freedom.
The trial against Ola Bini, Swedish software developer and digital rights activist, is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, January 19, and continue for three days. 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. In the meanwhile, digital rights advocacy groups and progressive media outlets are pushing for the Ecuadorian authorities to ensure a fair trial, that is not only free from political interference, but also made in “accordance with the law and expert technical criteria.” A group of observers, representing Regional Foundation for Human Rights Advisory (INREDH) and Observatory of Rights and Justice (ODJ), along with a coalition of rights groups and journalists from independent media outlets, will be attending the trial, to make sure that Bini is guaranteed his right to a fair trial.
For over two years EFF has been following the case of Swedish computer security expert Ola Bini, who was arrested in April, 2019, in Ecuador, following Julian Assange's ejection from that country’s London Embassy. Bini’s pre-trial hearing, which was suspended and rescheduled at least five times during 2020, was concluded on June 29, 2021. Despite the cloud that has hung over the case—political ramifications have seemed to drive the allegations, and Bini has been subjected to numerous due process and human rights violations—we are hopeful that the security expert will be afforded a transparent and fair trial and that due process will prevail. Ola Bini is known globally as a computer security expert; he is someone who builds secure tools and contributes to free software projects.