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12 Apr, 2019 03:12

'Swedish software developer' linked to WikiLeaks arrested in Ecuador in flight attempt – reports

'Swedish software developer' linked to WikiLeaks arrested in Ecuador in flight attempt – reports

Ecuador's interior minister has confirmed that a person who is alleged to have links to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested as he attempted to take a flight to Japan. She also spoke of two 'Russian hackers.'

Ecuador's Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said on Thursday that a man was taken into custody in one of the airports as he was about to board a plane to Japan. There is little official information about his identity or the reasons for his arrest, with Romo telling a local radio station the individual was arrested on Thursday afternoon for the purposes of investigation.

Also on rt.com 'Pathological hatred': Ecuador's Moreno sold 'Assange's head' to the US – ex-president Correa to RT

Shortly after Assange's own arrest in London earlier that day, Romo hinted that the Ecuadorian government is about to unleash a crackdown on Assange's supposed web of connections on Ecuadorian soil.

She claimed that a "key" member of WikiLeaks, who is also "close to Julian Assange," has been a resident of Ecuador for several years and has engaged in malicious activity to undermine the government.

"We have sufficient evidence that he has been collaborating with destabilization attempts against the government," Romo said. The minister claimed that the individual used to accompany the minister of foreign affairs in the Rafael Correa government, Ricardo Patino, on trips overseas.

"Along with Ricardo Patino, he has traveled twice last year to Peru and also to Spain," she said, adding that the pair also took a trip to Venezuela in February this year one day apart.

While the Interior Ministry did not reveal the identity of Assange's supposed helper, an anonymous official told AP that the arrested man was a Swedish software developer by the name of Ola Bini, a resident of Ecuador's capital Quito.

Bini appears to run a Twitter account under his own name, which is full of re-posts of news developments surrounding Assange around the time of the publisher's arrest. Bini also retweeted the news about Romo announcing that a person who is "part of WikiLeaks" is living in Ecuador. He described as "very worrisome" her remark that the information on the individual and the "two Russian hackers" might be soon handed over to prosecution. That was the account's last tweet before going silent for 14 hours at the time of writing.

Bini also appears to have a blog in which he identifies himself as software developer for the Center for Digital Autonomy, a group specializing in privacy, cryptography and security. While his blog does not include any reference to WikiLeaks, a September 2013 blog entry touches on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and his explosive revelations. 

Prominent Indian journalist Vijay Prashad has launched a campaign on Twitter for the Ecuadorian government to free Bini. Prashad, the head of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, tweeted that Bini is innocent and known as a "celebrated open source advocate." Prashad said that Bini does not speak Spanish and has been allowed no lawyers since he was arrested "without reason."

His call was joined by Bini's fellow members of the open source software community.

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