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Swedish privacy activist linked to Assange describes Ecuador prison conditions as ‘inhuman’

Swedish privacy activist linked to Assange describes Ecuador prison conditions as ‘inhuman’
Ola Bini, who spent over two months in an Ecuadorian jail after being arrested on the same day as his “friend” Julian Assange, has said he doesn't know why he was detained, and decried the squalid conditions in which he was kept.

Bini, a Swedish software developer and digital privacy enthusiast, told RIA Novosti that he is still being kept in the dark about the true reasons for his 79-day detention. He said that he had never been charged with any crime and was still waiting for the authorities to present any incriminating evidence.

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“They have not provided any evidence of a crime. I don’t know why they put me in jail, I don’t know why they repeatedly violated Ecuadorian laws in order to keep me in jail,” Bini said.

Speaking about the conditions during his extended pretrial detention, Bini said he was kept in an overcrowded cell and had to sleep on a concrete floor with other detainees. Some 95 prisoners were crammed into 17 cells, with each cell having only one bed, he said. The cells had no running water or heating, “which made hygiene impossible.”

“The life was very hard. The worst part was not knowing when I would be free, and whether I would be free at all,” he said.

The programmer was released on June 20 after successfully contesting his arrest. He was nabbed by police on April 11 in a Quito airport when he was about to board a plane to Japan. His arrest came just hours after WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after his asylum status was revoked by the government of President Lenin Moreno.

READ MORE: Ecuadorian police mistook Swedish tech geek ‘linked to Assange’ for Russian – lawyers

Bini’s arrest was immediately linked to that of Assange, but, despite admitting that he visited the former self-exiled fugitive in London, Bini denied that he has ever worked for WikiLeaks or the Australian himself. Speaking to RIA Novosti, he reiterated that Assange was merely his friend.

Bini lodged a habeas corpus action against the Ecuadorian authorities, arguing that his detention was illegal and arbitrary. The court sided with the appellant, ruling that his right to freedom was violated by law enforcement.

While Bini has been accused by top Ecuadorian officials, including Moreno, of compromising national security, breaking into computer systems and stealing data, these accusations never translated into formal charges.

In a recent interview with Democracy Now, Bini said that when his defense asked Moreno and Ecuador’s Minister of the Interior Maria Paula Romo to support their claims with evidence or give testimony in the case, they backed off, claiming not to have any proof of his alleged wrongdoings.

Still, the investigation into Bini is ongoing, and he is required by the court to remain in the country and report back to police. He has been living in Ecuador for the past five years, working for the Quito-based Center for Digital Autonomy, which specializes in data security and privacy protection.

After his release, his lawyer, Carlos Soria, said that the defense would take the Ecuadorian government to “international courts” for them to determine if the Latin American country's judicial system had acted with any “prejudice” in the developer’s case.

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