Swedish programmer Ola Bini was arrested in Ecuador’s capital Quito in mid-April on the the same day as his friend and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and is suspected of having hacked government accounts.
During a court hearing on Thursday, the prosecutor announced that he had changed the crime classification in the case of Ola Bini, a Swedish national with ties to Julian Assange, as well as an activist and developer of software that complicates online monitoring.
The charges were changed from “attack on the integrity of computer systems”, which the prosecutor previously insisted Bini was guilty of, to “unauthorised intrusion into computer systems”, the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported. Bini is now suspected of having breached the Ecuadorian state telecommunications company CNT’s website.
“The prosecutor claims that a screenshot from 2015, found on Ola Bini’s cell phone, proves the data breach. But we mean that there is nothing in the picture that proves that there has been any crime at all,” Mats Lövgren, a press contact for Ola Bini’s family, told national broadcaster SVT.
According to Mats Lövgren, the new crime classification should not affect the scale of punishment, which is still a prison term of three to five years.
“I don’t have any explanation. Ola and his defence speculate that the prosecutor has failed to find any evidence at all for the first criminal charge. And that by changing the crime classification, the prosecutor believes he should have better opportunities to find anything,” Ola Bini’s father Dag Gustafsson said.
Ecuador-based programmer Ola Bini was arrested on 11 April by the Ecuadorian authorities and held behind bars for several months, which prompted an international outcry. In late June, an Ecuador court has ordered his release, proclaiming his detention “arbitrary”. Gustafsson hadpreviously suggested Bini’s arrest was an attempt to “get Assange”.
Bini, who is highly regarded a software developer, moved to the Ecuadorian capital Quito when the digital consulting company Thoughtworks opened a local office there in 2013. Through his work and activism, he established a friendship with Julian Assange and has since 2013 visited the Wikileaks boss several times.
Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno has previously accused Ola Bini of hacking phones belonging to government officials.