Greetings to all of you at RightsCon in Tunis. My name is Ola Bini. I work on technical security and privacy issues. I’m writing to you on Friday, May 24th, 2019 from the provisional detention center El Inca, in Quito, Ecuador. I have today been illegally imprisoned for 43 days and in this facility for 41 of those.
On Wednesday 29th, there will be a bail hearing. So, when you receive this, it’s possible that I’m out, in some capacity. Unfortunately, it’s not likely. The judiciary have been completely captured by political interests and it’s unlikely they will let me out. There still exists absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing, but to admit that would mean the government would lose face.
I believe in the right to privacy. Not just in isolation, but also as a fundamental principle that is necessary for other rights to be possible. Privacy is necessary for self-determination, and without this personal freedom, democracy itself is undermined, and without democracy, most of the rest of our rights are impossible.
There is currently a stream of thought in public debate that security is in opposition to privacy. I personally believe this is misguided in the extreme. Security is fundamentally a set of tools that can be used for many different purposes and if you say that we have to give up privacy in order to protect the security of the community, you are committing a contradiction, an oxymoron. For us to protect our communities, we need to use tools of security to protect privacy, not compromise it.
My case is extreme. The only indications and reasons the prosecution has submitted is the large amount of technology I possess, the books and knowledge I have and my friendship with Julian Assange. None of these things could ever be considered evidence of a crime. But still I’m here.
Unless some of you think that this is only Ecuador, a small so-called developing country in Latin America and this could never happen in the so-called developed western world. I want to point out that these kinds of political abuses of justice ARE happening. Look at Chelsea Manning, back in prison, back in solitary confinement for her values. Look at Jeremy Hammond, who was forced to accept a plea deal for 10 years in prison since the prosecutor threatened him with a life spent in trials if he didn’t plea guilty. Look at Julian Assange, who despite widespread disbelief, is now facing extradition to the US and a potential risk to his life and look at Aaron Swartz, who was threatened and bullied by federal prosecutors until he couldn’t take it anymore and ended his life.
Is this right? Is this justice? Is this the world we want?
This war is only just beginning. My situation is just the latest battle. If we care about our rights, our values, we need to fight now. Before it’s too late.