This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Without privacy, we can’t have agency say Noam Chomsky, Pamela Anderson, Yanis Varoufakis, Arundhati Roy, Brian Eno, Dave Eggers and other global voices…
We are 11 days into the illegal detention of Ola Bini, Swedish free software and privacy programmer. Organizations and activists around the world are speaking out about this violation of his rights.
People working for free software and privacy should not be criminalized, there is nothing criminal about wanting privacy.
“I believe strongly in the right to privacy. Without privacy, we can’t have agency, and without agency we are slaves. That’s why I have dedicated my life to this struggle. Surveillance is a threat to us all, we must stop it.” –Ola Bini
Remember 4/11 as the date a Swedish national was arrested by the Ecuadorian government for no cause, obviously driven by outside forces as they had no cause to hold him and offered lie after evasion after contortion of law to friends and family in the first 48 hours.
The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet just ran a letter to the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, signed by over 100 global voices, requesting Sweden “take firm, immediate action” toward the suffering of their citizen being illegally held in an Ecuadorian jail, sleeping on the floor without access to clean water.
Here is that letter:
Dear Prime Minister Stefan Löfven,
On April 11, Swedish national Ola Metodius Bini, a free software developer, was arrested in Quito (Ecuador). He has been living in the Republic of Ecuador for the past six years. Ola Bini is now serving a 90-day pretrial detention. He has not been afforded bail.
The case of Ola Bini has drawn worldwide concern. UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye said that ‘nothing in this story connects Ola Bini to any crime’. Further, he said, ‘the govt of Ecuador must demonstrate more than that or this looks like an arbitrary detention’. The Organisation of American State’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza, added, ‘I share the Rapporteur David Kaye’s concern around the arrest and detention of digital activist Ola Bini’.
Amnesty International and Article 19 have publicly echoed this concern and are closely monitoring the case.
On April 11, Ola Bini was going to Japan for a martial arts training course, which he had advertised on twitter a week before. He was detained by the Ecuadorian police. In violation of due process, the police did not contact the Swedish authorities. This process is part of the standards of Ecuadorian law. After 15 hours of his initial detention, they made the contact.
Ola Bini’s human rights have been violated repeatedly by the police, by the Ministry of the Interior, by the Attorney General’s office and by the judge in charge of the case. The agents who initially detained him did not have a valid warrant. He was denied access to his lawyers for 17 hours. He was not permitted to have a translator – even though his Spanish is rudimentary. He was not informed of the charges against him.
Ola Bini was held at the airport for more than eight hours. In violation of Ecuadorian law, he was not transferred to the police facilities. The police then took him to his home, where they coerced him to allow access. Finally, he was taken to a facility abandoned by the judicial police, where he spent the night. By that time, he still did not have any access to legal advice or assistance.
The next morning – on April 12 – Ola Bini was transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office, where he remained for a further 12 hours before a hearing. For a total of 17 hours Ola Bini was not allowed legal advice or food. His lawyers report that they were harassed and threatened by the police.
At the hearing, the prosecutor offered no evidence against Ola Bini. Based on the Ecuadorian Penal Code, he was accused of one very serious crime – attacking the integrity of computer systems. Despite the lack of any evidence, the judge placed Ola Bini in pretrial detention for 90 days. There was no bail hearing.
We believe that the process is politically motivated. Fabricated charges, with no evidence, have been brought against an innocent man. He has been caught in a dispute that does not concern him and with which he is not involved at all. There is not a single piece of evidence that incriminates him. Ola Bini sits in an Ecuadoran prison, denied bail, and with no guarantees of due process.
Ola Bini is a globally respected figure in the free software community, and a renowned activist for the right to privacy. In 2010, Computerworld magazine named him as Sweden’s 6th best developer. He is a member of various European and international networks for free software and privacy, and he participates in projects of the highest level, some of them sponsored by the European Commission. Ola has never expressed any views that would in any way be a threat to the Ecuadorian government.
As an advocate and an activist for the right to privacy, Ola has visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London several times. However, he does not work for Wikileaks, nor has he ever worked for them. Any allegation that he is conspiring against the Ecuadorian government and its computer systems is false and ludicrous.
We appeal to the Swedish Government to take firm, immediate action. So far, the Swedish Government’s efforts have been limited to the presence of the Swedish Honorary Consul in Quito. While we are grateful that the Swedish Honorary Consul in Quito involved himself we would ask you and the government to lift this to a political level, since it seems to be a political reason behind the arrest. We are sure that the misunderstanding about who Ola is and what he does could quickly be resolved. The Swedish Society and the Government of Sweden are recognized worldwide as active defenders and promoters of human rights and freedom of expression. His family, his friends, his colleagues, call on the Swedish government to 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.
Arundhati Roy / Author
Brian Eno / Artist, Musician
Dave Eggers / Author
Noam Chomsky / Institute Professor (emeritus) MIT, Laureate Professor University of Arizona
Pamela Anderson / Actress
Yanis Varoufakis / DiEM25 co-founder, Professor of Economics – University of Athens
Adolfo Perez Esquivel / Recipient Nobel Peace Prize 1980, Argentina
Evgeny Morozov / Writer and researcher on social implications of technology
Jean-Luc Mélenchon / French MP and President of the Parliamentary Group France Insoumise
Mairead Maguire / Recipient Nobel Peace Prize 1976, UK
Martin Fowler / Software Development Author
Pablo Iglesias / General Secretary Podemos, presidential candidate, Spain
Agustín Frizzera / Director, Democracia en Red
Aijaz Ahmad / Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature, University of California (Irvine)
Albert Leger / Artist/Activist
Alberto Garzón / Spanish MP and General Coordinator of United Left Party
Alfredo Velazco / Usuarios Digitales
Almudena Bernabéu / Human Rights Lawyer, Co-founder of Guernica 37
Ana Miranda / European Parliament MP, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
Angela Richter / Director
Anthony Arnove / Publisher
Antoine Deltour / Whistleblower
Ariovaldo Ramos / Evangelical Front for a State of Rights
Bernardo Loureiro Jurema /
Birgitta Jónsdóttir / Former parliamentarian for the Civic Movement & Pirate Party in the Icelandic Parliament & chairman for IMMI (International Modern Media Institute)
Carlo Freccero / Rai
Carol Proner / Member of the International Committee of the Brazilian Association of Jurists for Democracy – ABJD
Carolina Resende Haddad /
Christian Leon / Political Innovation Asuntos del Sur
Clare Daly / Deputy to the Dáil (MP), Independents 4 Change
Colonel Ann Wright / Veterans for Peace and former UN Diplomat, who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the US war on Iraq
Cory Doctorow / Author and co-editor, Boing Boing
Cristina García / Novelist
Daniel Goodwin / Attorney
David Adler / Diem25
David Harvey / City University of New York
David Heinemeier Hansson / Danish programmer
Davide Castro / Diem 25, and Co-Founder World Solidarity Forum
Eirini Mitsiou / Member of Coordinating Collective in DiEM25
Eleonora de Lucena / Journalist
Eli Gomez Alcorta / Lawyer of Milagros de Sala and diverse causes of defense of human rights
Enrique Santiago / General Secretary of the Spanish Communist Party, Human Rights Lawyer
Erik Edman / Sociologist, Activist, MEP candidate MeRA25
Ernest Urtasun / European Parliament MP, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
Estefanía Torres Martínez / European Parliament MP, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
Fabio Luis Barbosa dos Santos / Professor at UNIFESP University Brazil
Felice Cappa / Rai
Francesca Bria / CTO Barcelona and DECODE project lead
Frank Barat / Russell Tribunal
Frei Betto / Dominican friar and writer
George Danezis / University College London
Geraldine de Bastion / Konnektiv Kollektiv
Gerardo Pisarello / First Deputy Mayor Barcelona City
Gloria Verónica Sammartino / Professor – Universidad Buenos Aires
Gustavo Banegas / PhD Student/Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
Heike Hänsel / MP, Left Party Spokesperson on the Committee on International Relations of the German Bundestag
Heinrich Buecker / Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin
Heloisa Fernandes / Sociologist – Universidade de São Paulo
Irvin Jim / General Secretary, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA)
Javier Arteaga / Director, Feeling
Javier Couso Permuy / European Parliament MP, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
Jimmy Nilsson / Founder of factor10
João Paulo Rodrigues / National Direction of MST and of Brazil Popular Front
Joao Pedro Stedile / MST and Via Campesina Brasil
Jodie Evans / co-founder CODEPINK; Women for Peace
Johanna Scheringer-Wright / Member of Regional Parliament of Thuringia (Mitglied des Landtages Thüringen)
John Kiriakou / former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Jon-Erling / Dahl CTO / fooheads AB
José María Guijarro / Spanish MP and General Secretary of the Parliamentary Group of Unidas Podemos
José Shultman / President of the Argentine League for Human Rights
Joslyn Barnes / Film Producer
Juan Grabois / Lawyer, CTEP leader and Patria Grande Front member. Coordinator of the dialogues of popular movements with Pope Francisco
Katharina Wojcik / DiEM25
Khadija Ryadi / Recipient of the UN Prize for Human Rights
Leonardo Boff / Theologian, Philosopher and Member of the International Earth Charta Commission
Lola Sánchez Caldentey / European Parliament MP, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
Lorenzo Marsili / Co-Founder European Alternatives
Maite Mola / Vice president of the Party of the European Left (PEL)
Manuel Bertoldi / Patria Grande Front
Marco Antonio Santos / Psychologist
Marga Ferré / President of La FEC, Foundation Europe of the Citizens
Maricarmen Sequera / Executive Director, TEDIC
Mark Weisbrot / CEPR, USA
Medea Benjamin / co-founder CODEPINK; Women for Peace
Mick Wallace / Deputy to the Dáil (MP), Independents 4 Change
Miguel Urban / European Parliament MP, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
Mishi Choudhary / Legal Director, Software Freedom Law Centre
Moritz Bartl / Renewable Freedom Foundation
N. Ram / Chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group, Chennai, India
Neville Roy Singham / Founder of ThoughtWorks, now retired
Nicklas Andersson / CTO
Niclas Nilsson / CEO at fooheads AB
Nicolás Díaz Cruz / Executive Director, Extituto de Política Abierta
P. Sainath Founder /, People’s Archive of Rural India
Pablo Bustinduy / Spanish MP and International Secretary of Podemos
Patrick Linskey / Principal Engineer, Cisco Systems Inc.
Paul Mason / journalist and Decode advisory panel member
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro / Former minister for human rights and former coordinator of the National Truth Commission
Pavel Égüez / Muralist Painter
Perti Sumula / Association – Friends of the MST
Prabir Purkayastha / President Free Software Movement of India
Renata Avila / Executive Director, Fundación Ciudadanía Inteligente
Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II / Repairers of the Breach and Poor Peoples Campaign, USA
Richard Pithouse / Publisher New Frame
Rodolfo Lucena / Journalist
Rubén Zavala / Popular education professor, photographer
S’bu Zikode / President of Abahlali BaseMjondolo
Scott Ludlam / Former Australian Senator
Seth Pyenson /
Sevim Dagdelen / MP, Vice Chair Left Parliamentary Group of the German Bundestag
Shanti Marie Singham / Professor of History and Africana Studies, Williams College, Massachusetts USA
Sofía Celi / CAD
Srecko Horvat / Philosopher
Stephanie Whited / comms director torproject, actor, writer
Tania González Peñas / European Parliament MP, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
Tim Norton / Digital Rights Watch
Valerio Arcary / Historian and Teacher – IFET São Paulo
Vendela Vida / Author, USA
Vijay Prashad / Director, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
Virgínia Fontes / Professor – University, Rio de Janeiro
Vivien Lesnik Weisman / Latinovision Productions
Walter Palmetshofer / Open Knowledge Foundation Germany
Wagner Moura / Actor, Director
William E. Binney / Former Technical Director at NSA
Xabier Benito Ziluaga / European Parliament MP, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green
Y Kiran Chandra / General Secretary Free Software Movement of India
Yolanda Cvitak / MundoJusto
Zackie Achmat / UniteBehind
Zimoun / Artist, Switzerland
You can join these voices by sending an email to Lenin Moreno, President of Ecuador, demanding the release of Ola Bini:
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