Ola Bini, a Swedish national accused of an alleged cyber-attack, at an appeal hearing to his order of preventive detention, at a Quito court on Thursday. Photo: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP
Ola Bini is described as being a friend and confidant of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who earlier this week was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail by a UK court for skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced rape accusations.
He was detained at Quito Airport while he was awaiting a flight to Japan, where his parents said he was planning to attend a martial arts training course. An Ecuadorian judge ruled that the Swede be jailed as he awaits trial on charges of allegedly leaking confidential information about the country.
Bini’s parents said that an appeal against their son’s pre-trial detention was overruled this week and that he will remain in the El Inca prison while the Ecuadorian government investigates the charges. The country’s interior minister, María Paula Romo, has said that the Swedish citizen would likely be detained for up to 90 days.
Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, said at a press conference last month that Bini was one of several “hackers” who visited Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where the Wikileaks founder had been holed up since 2012 after a British judge ordered his extradition to face Swedish allegations of sexual assault and rape. Assange has strongly denied the Swedish charges.
Speaking to Swedish broadcaster SVT, Bini’s parents confirmed that their son is both a good friend of the Wikileaks founder and that he visited him at the Ecuadorean embassy several times. They deny, however, that Bini was officially involved in any Wikileaks activities.
The Swede’s Ecuadorean lawyer, Carlos Soria, also maintains his client’s innocence and criticized his government’s handling of the case.
“After he was detained, it took several hours before he was given access to a lawyer or the consulate was contacted. They read him his rights in Spanish, a language he doesn’t understand, and tried to get him to sign paperwork saying that he understood them. This is in violation of Ecuador’s constitutional law,” Soria told SVT.
According to international media reports, the 36-year-old Bini moved to Ecuador in 2013 as part of his work as a consultant for a US-based tech company that had contracted with the Ecuadorean government.