Ecuador: Government interfered in criminal case against Ola Bini

Amnesty International announced today in a public statement that it will continue to monitor the criminal proceedings against digital rights defender Ola Bini in Ecuador. Amnesty International has identified human rights violations and undue interference in the case by government authorities, including President Lenín Moreno and Minister of Government María Paula Romo.

"Ola Bini’s case demonstrates a serious contradiction in the Ecuadorian criminal justice system. Attacks on human rights defenders frequently go unpunished, while unfounded accusations against them are immediately investigated," said Fernanda Doz Costa, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

Ola Bini’s case demonstrates a serious contradiction in the Ecuadorian criminal justice system. Attacks on human rights defenders frequently go unpunished, while unfounded accusations against them are immediately investigated
Fernanda Doz Costa, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International

On 11 April 2019, Bini was arrested by police after Minister of Government María Paula Romo accused him of "cooperating with attempts to destabilize the government."[1] 70 days later, on 20 June, a court ordered his release and acknowledged that his detention was illegal and arbitrary and violated international law as well as Bini's rights to personal liberty and a fair trial.

Amnesty International emphasized that the undue interference of government authorities—among them the president, the minister of government, and the attorney in charge of the case—violated due process, the investigation’s independence, and the right to the presumption of innocence, because their public accusations against Bini have not been proven by an independent, objective, and impartial investigation.

Therefore, Amnesty International warns that the Attorney’s Office in charge of the case may present evidence that was obtained illegally. Amnesty International asked judicial authorities to verify that any evidence used against Bini has been obtained in accordance with international law.

The misuse of the criminal justice system to persecute people who defend digital rights and privacy could create an atmosphere of intimidation and fear among those who carry out this work in Ecuador.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Carlos Mendoza at +52 1 55 4145 7003 or carlos.mendoza@amnesty.org

Additional information:

On the morning of 11 April 2019, at a press conference in which María Paula Romo—then the interior minister and now minister of government—announced the government’s decision to withdraw Julian Assange’s diplomatic asylum, Romo also accused Bini of "cooperating with attempts to destabilize the government."

Ola Bini was detained by police later that day at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador, without a warrant and without evidence that he was caught in the act of committing a crime. Moreover, during his initial detention, he was not informed in his native language of his rights or why he was detained. He was cut off from outside communication, he had no access to an attorney, and the Swedish embassy was not notified of his detention.

On 16 April, at a public event in Washington, D.C., President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador said Bini had been “discovered hacking government and individual accounts and hacking telephones.”