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  • Writer's pictureToby Cadman

Press Statement: International Legal Team for Ola Bini Files Urgent Appeal to UN Special Procedures


LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO/BUENOS AIRES, 5 June 2019 –The International Legal Team instructed by Mr. Ola Bini, comprising members ofGuernica 37 International Justice ChambersandLMGAA Estudio Juridico, have today filed a Petition of Complaint with the UN Working Groupon Arbitrary Detention, UN Special Rapporteur on the Prevention on Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy highlighting his ongoing unlawful, and therefore ‘Arbitrary’ detention; detention authorised despite there being a credible suggestion that the allegations are politically motivated, and in any event, without any legal foundation.

Mr. Ola Bini, a Swedish National, a software programmer and privacy rights expert, described as a human rights defender, has been arbitrarily detained in Quito, Ecuador since 11 April 2019.
The authorities have detained Mr. Ola Bini on vague and wholly unsubstantiated allegations. There is no evidence linking him to any allegations and given the absence of any evidence, it is submitted that his detention breaches the norms of national and international law concerning deprivation of liberty and a ruling is sought from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteurs.
It is therefore deemed a matter of urgency that the Working Group investigate this matter, and further, call upon the Government of Ecuador to act in accordance with its domestic and international obligations to release Mr. Ola Bini immediately and terminate any criminal investigation against him.

On 11 April, Mr. Ola Bini was arrested and detained at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Ecuador, a country that he had made his home since 2013, and a country in which he had resided for six years without incident.

The basis of his arrest, and his subsequent ongoing detention is yet to be specified, the only information having been disclosed by the Prosecutor in this case, is that Mr. Bini is alleged to have committed an offence relating to an “…attack on the integrity of computer systems”.

It cannot be coincidence that Mr. Bini was arrested on the day that the Government of Ecuador revoked the asylum status of Mr. Julian Assange, and further, that his arrest was met with comments made by members of the Government of Ecuador purporting to suggest that ‘agents’ seeking to harm Ecuador were operating within the country, and further, that they had been identified as having links with WikiLeaks.

Such comments are not only factually inaccurate, but also seek to influence the unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Bini, and thus have directly impact on the ability of Mr. Bini to have a fair trial should the wholly unsubstantiated charges proceed.

The reality, is that Mr. Bini is nothing more than a software developer, and an internationally recognised expert in ensuring an individual’s protection against unlawful digital surveillance; a subject upon which Mr. Bini has campaigned for, and advocated upon for a significant amount of time, resulting in him being termed a ‘Human Rights Defender’ concerning the right to privacy, and the right to freedom of expression.

The allegations against Mr. Bini are vehemently denied, however, the Prosecution, despite having detained Mr. Bini since 11 April 2009, and therefore almost two months, are still yet to offer a shred of evidence that would substantiate the allegations being made.

Further, and most disturbingly, at the most recent ‘bail’ hearing, the Prosecutor again failed to disclose any evidence substantiating the allegation, and yet, the Court refused to release Mr. Bini, using this failure to justify the decision on the basis that any damage, actual or potential, could not be justified.

Such a decision cannot be sustained, given that the failure of the Prosecution ought to have been a primary basis for the grant of bail and dismissal of the case, rather than its refusal.

The International Team stated:

The decision however is merely the latest in a litany of failures by the Ecuadorian Security Services, and thereafter, the wider justice system, to adhere to domestic and international due process norms

Upon arrest, Mr. Bini has not been held in accordance with such accepted norms; he was initially held, handcuffed, in the back of a police car for an inordinate amount of time, despite the warrant authorising his arrest not being produced until some seven hours after his initial arrest – thereby confirming that his initial period of detention was unlawful.

Further, he was denied his non-derogable right to consular assistance, nor was he permitted to seek the assistance of legal counsel until after he had been detained for over 13 hours.

The International Team confirmed:

Such tactics not only breach domestic law, but further, they are in contravention of Ecuador’s state obligations by virtue of it being a State Party to a host of international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Accordingly, the initial, and ongoing detention of Mr. Bini is unlawful, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is requested to investigate and rule as such.

The International Team stated:

We are deeply concerned that the Ecuadorian judiciary lacks the necessary independence required by any democratic state and by the minimum standards of due process. In such a hostile environment and following a politically charged campaign, his continued detention and possible charges constitutes an abuse of process in breach of national law and Ecuador's international treaty obligations. As a result of the failures by the domestic courts the Petitioner has no option but to take this to the UN to intervene.
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