Ecuador: Violent raid jeopardizes Ola Bini’s right to a fair trial

The raid carried out by the Attorney General’s Office on the home of Fabián Hurtado, the independent information technology expert witness in the case of digital rights defender Ola Bini, which resulted in the seizure of his electronic equipment, again caused great concern about the guarantee of a fair trial for Bini, Amnesty International said today.

“Amnesty International has shown that undue government interference has occurred in the case of Ola Bini. The violent manner in which authorities have carried out this operation seems intended to intimidate Ola Bini’s defence team and those who defend the right to privacy and other digital rights. This incident again shows that Ola Bini is in danger of not receiving a fair trial,” said Fernanda Doz Costa, deputy director for the Americas at Amnesty International.

Fabián Hurtado was commissioned by Ola Bini’s defence team to analyze the evidence against him. According to public information, yesterday, in the early morning, agents of the Attorney General’s Office and the Judicial Police raided his home and seized his electronic equipment.

According to statements made by Hurtado and his defence team, the agents entered violently, breaking down the door to the building where he lives without even ringing the bell or knocking on the door. Hurtado asserted that, though he was presented with a warrant, he was not allowed to read it, nor was he given a copy, and he was prevented from immediately contacting his lawyer because his cell phone was seized.

Amnesty International has shown that undue government interference has occurred in the case of Ola Bini. The violent manner in which authorities have carried out this operation seems intended to intimidate Ola Bini’s defence team and those who defend the right to privacy and other digital rights
Fernanda Doz Costa, deputy director for the Americas at Amnesty International

The Attorney General’s Office stated to the media that the operation was carried out urgently to gather information about alleged crimes of procedural fraud, arguing that Hurtado “may have put misleading information in his CV.”

Hurtado presented a technical report on 30 August 2019 about the evidence that the Attorney General’s Office said it had extracted from Bini’s cell phone. One day earlier, the Attorney General’s Office modified its original charges against Ola Bini, changing the charges from the crime of “attacking the integrity of information systems” to the crime of “unauthorized access to an information system.”

Amnesty International has also received information from Ola Bini’s defence team expressing its concern for the safety of its members in light of these actions that they consider acts of intimidation. Amnesty International urges authorities to respect the guarantee of due process in the case of digital rights defender Ola Bini, to guarantee his right to an adequate defence and to avoid any act of intimidation against him. Moreover, Amnesty International again calls on authorities to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders and to publicly recognize the importance of their work, including those who defend digital rights.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Duncan Tucker: duncan.tucker@amnesty.org