- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2019

Ola Bini, a Swedish computer programmer friendly with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, claimed innocence Thursday in his first public statement since being arrested in Ecuador a week earlier.

“I’m confident it will be obvious that there’s no substance to this case, and that it will collapse into nothing,” Mr. Bini said in a statement issued by his lawyer, Carlos Soria.

Mr. Bini, 36, was arrested last Thursday at a Quito airport in the aftermath of Ecuador ejecting Mr. Assange, 47, from its London embassy. Mr. Soria said afterward that Mr. Bini is a personal friend of Mr. Assange and that he believes Ecuador was attempting without evidence to accuse his client of espionage.

“It’s up to the justice system to determine if he committed a crime,” Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said after Mr. Bini’s arrest last week. “But we can’t allow Ecuador to become a center for piracy and spying. That period in our history is over.”

Mr. Bini visited Mr. Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London around a dozen times prior to the WikiLeaks publisher being punted last week, Ms. Romo said.

The Ecuador State Prosecutor General’s Office has since charged Mr. Bini with illegal computer hacking and has released an image showing dozens of electronics seized from his luggage at the airport and during a recent raid of his home.

“The leaders of the world are waging a war against knowledge. The case against me is based on the books I’ve read and the technology I have,” Mr. Bini said through his lawyer Thursday.

Mr. Assange, an Australian, lived under political asylum inside the embassy in London for seven years before having his status revoked by Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno last week. He has since been charged by U.S. prosecutors and faces extradition for allegedly conspiring to illegally hack into a Pentagon computer system.

Mr. Moreno called Mr. Assange a “cyber terrorist” this week and called his conduct inside the Ecuadorian Embassy “unacceptable” and “not in line with his condition of any asylee.” WikiLeaks has dismissed those claims as a distraction.

Judge Rodolfo Navarrete ordered Mr. Bini jailed for 90 days while prosecutors mount their case. Mr. Soria previously said he planned to appeal.

Describing his confinement through his lawyer, Mr. Bini said he is being held “under the best circumstances and it’s still despicable. There needs to be serious reform.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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