• Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and Others ask Swedish PM to Step up Support for Ola Bini

    Peoples Dispatch

    April 25, 2019

    On April 23, a letter signed by 130 renowned activists, artists, intellectuals and software developers was submitted to Stefan Löfven, the prime minister of Sweden, demanding that his government take “firm, immediate action” to ensure the release of Swedish national and privacy activist Ola Bini. Bini was arrested on April 11 in Quito, Ecuador, and is now serving a court-ordered, 90-day pretrial detention. Ecuadorian authorities still haven’t been able to build a credible case against him.

    Among the signatories of the letter are professor Noam Chomsky, Argentinian activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, author Arundhati Roy, actors Pamela Anderson and actor Danny Glover, educator Frei Betto, and activist Medea Benjamin, among others.

    The letter outlines the various irregularities in the arrest and subsequent detention of Bini. It also mentions the human rights violations perpetrated on him by the “police, by the Ministry of the Interior, by the Attorney General’s office and by the judge in charge of the case”.

    Some of the more reprehensible acts include the fact that the agents who initially detained Bini did not have a valid warrant, and that he was denied access to lawyers for 17 hours. He was also denied access to a translator despite having only a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish. The police took him to his home and forced him to let them inside. While in detention, he was denied food for 17 hours. Swedish authorities were contacted only 15 hours after his detention, a violation of Ecuadorian law.

    After 30 hours of detention, on April 12, a hearing took place and the prosecutor accused him of “attacking the integrity of computer systems” but did not provide any evidence to support this grave accusation. The judge ordered that Bini remain detained for 90 days in a penitentiary center without bail.

    The letter points out that Ola Bini is an important internationally respected figure in the free software community and an advocate and activist for the right to privacy.

    “We believe that the process is politically motivated. Fabricated charges, with no evidence, have been brought against an innocent man…There is not a single piece of evidence that incriminates him. Ola Bini sits in an Ecuadorian prison, denied bail, and with no guarantees of due process” the letter concludes.

    In light of the irregularities, rampant human rights violations, and the clear political motivation behind Bini’s detention, the signatories ask the Swedish government to increase their involvement in the case, beyond the support of the Swedish honorary consul in Quito. They ask the Swedish government to elevate the case to a political level, and “intercede for Ola before the Ecuador authorities, demand respect for the law and for Ola’s human rights, and to facilitate his safe immediate return to Sweden”.

    Below is the pdf version of the letter with the full list of signatories:


    First published in Peoples Dispatch.

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