최근 에콰도르 판사가 프로그래머이자 개인정보 보호 운동가인 스웨덴인 올라 비니를 석방하도록 명령했다. 그는 기소없이 두 달 넘게 구속돼 있었다.
비니는 <위키리크스> 설립자 줄리안 어산지의 친구로, 어산지가 영국 당국에 의해 런던 주재 에콰도르 대사관에서 강제로 끌려나간 4월 11일 바로 같은 날 그도 에콰도르 수도 키토에서 체포됐었다.
현재 그는 석방됐지만 에콰도르 정부를 해킹했다는 혐의로 여전히 조사를 받고 있고, 에콰도르 밖으로의 출국이 금지돼 있다.
이 모든 것이 에콰도르의 우파 대통령 레닌 모레노가 여러 해외계좌를 만들었다는 내부 문서가 유출된 후 부패 조사에 부딪히게 되면서 일어난 것이라는 분석들이 나오고 있다.
미국 또한 비니 사건에 관심을 보였다. 이 달 초 <AP>는 미국 법무부가 에콰도르 당국으로부터 비니에 대한 심문을 승인받았다고 보도한 바 있다.
석방 후 비니는 기자들에게 ‘처음으로 내 무죄가 입증됐다. 우리는 계속해서 무죄를 입증할 것이다. 우리가 내내 말한, 이 과정이 불법적이고, 내가 불법적으로 구속됐다는 것을 인정해준 판사들에게 감사한다’라고 말했다.
이후 비니는 언론 매체 <데모크래시 나우(Democracy Now)>와의 인터뷰를 통해 이 사건에 대한 자세한 이야기를 했다.
체포된 이유를 묻는 질문에 비니는 ‘잘 모르겠다. 여전히 이에 대한 답을 얻으려고 하고 있다. 수감돼 있던 70일 동안 검찰에 내가 무슨 일을 저지른 건지 물어봤지만, 아직까지 아무 답도 안 해줬다.
법원은 우리의 구속적부심청구를 받아들였고, 나의 체포와 구금이 불법적이었다고 말했는데, 이는 우리에게 큰 승리다. 우리는 여전히 내가 무슨 일을 했다는 건지 알아내려고 하고 있다’라고 말했다.
또한 그는 줄리안 어산지가 체포되던 날 그 뉴스를 접했으며, 그리고 몇 시간 뒤 미리 예정돼 있던 일본행 비행기를 타러 공항으로 갔다고 했다. 어산지가 체포된 날과 같은 것은 순전히 우연이었다고 했다. 그는 ‘탑승 게이트에 도착했을 때 경찰이라고 하는 사람들에게 붙잡혔지만, 그들은 신분증을 보여주지 않았다’라고 말했다.
어산지와 관련해서 체포된 것으로 생각하냐는 질문에 그는 ‘왜 같은 날 이런 일이 일어났는 지 모르겠다. 검찰은 사건을 내게 불리하게 만들려고 하면서 어산지를 관련자로 넣으려고 했다. 그러나 아직까지 밀접한 관계는 보이지 않고 있다. 그래서 잘 모르겠다’고 주장했다.
비니는 에콰도르 당국이 공항에서 자신의 전자기기들을 모두 가져갔다고 했다. 그리고 그날 밤 사람들이 비니를 그의 집으로 데리고 간 뒤, 가택수색 영장이 있다고 말했다고 했다. 그러나 영장을 비니에게 보여주지 않았고, 그가 변호사를 부르겠다고 했으나, 이를 무시하고 무단으로 집안으로 들어갔다고 했다. 집에 있던 모든 전자기기들이 압류됐고, 컴퓨터과학에 관한 책들도 가져갔다고 했다.
그는 ‘감식실에서 이들은 내 전자기기들의 암호를 알려달라고 했고, 나는 거절했다. 내가 무슨 죄를 저지른 것인지 이들이 말하지 않았기 때문이다. 나는 내가 무엇을 언제 어떻게 했는지 알려주면 협조하겠다고 검사에게 말했다. 기술팀은 내 기기들을 어떻게 푸는 지 몰라 국제적인 도움을 요청할 것이라고 말했다. 이게 내 기기들에 대해 내가 들은 마지막 정보이다’라고 말했다.
미국 당국이 에콰도르에 심문 요청을 한 것으로 전해진 것에 대해 비니는 ‘화요일 심문 출두 요구를 에콰도르 사법부로부터 받았다. 그래서 변호사와 가서 무슨 질문을 할 지 보자고 하던 중이었는데, 금요일에 미국 정부가 이 요구를 취하했다는 것을 알게 됐다. 내게 뭔가 물어보는 것에 이제 관심이 없는 듯하다’라고 말했다.
에콰도르 대사관에 있던 어산지의 소지품들이 영국 정부에 넘겨진 것으로 전해지고 있지만, 비니는 자신의 기기들은 아직 키토에 있는 것으로 알고 있다며, ‘이게 유일하게 법에 따른 것이다. 내가 아는 한 다른 곳으로 내 기기를 보내는 것은 불법이다’라고 말했다.
비니는 어산지와의 관계에 대해 ‘어산지는 내 친구일 뿐이다. 그와도 <위키리크스>와도 결코 일한 적이 없다. 나는 <위키리크스>의 멤버가 아니고, 그랬던 적도 없다’고 말했다.
또한 모레노 대통령에 대한 문서 유출과 관련해, 그가 아는 한 대통령에 관한 정보 유출로 그가 고발된 것은 아니라고 했다. 유출과 그를 관련시킨 게 페이스북 때문이었다지만, 그는 유출 자체에 대해 전혀 모르고 있었고, 유출된 대통령의 사진들도 본 적이 없다고 했다. 페이스북에 관한 이야기는 체포 뒤에 나왔으며, 이를 간접적으로 들었다고 했다. 자신은 페이스북 계정이 없어 이후로도 본 적이 없다고 했다.
비니는 인터뷰에서 ‘대통령이 TV에 나와 내가 컴퓨터 시스템과 휴대폰에 침투해 정보를 빼냈다고 했다. 그러나 우리가 증언과 사건에 대한 그의 생각을 달라고 하자 대통령은 이 상황에 대해 아무것도 모른다고 했고, 그러한 정보들을 내무장관 마리아 파울라 로모로부터 들은 것이라고 했다.
우리가 마리아 파울라 로모에게 사건에 대한 견해와 증언을 요청하자 실제로 내가 어떤 범죄를 저질렀다는 증거가 전혀 없다고 말했다. 이건 완전히 모순이다. 내무장관이 TV에서는 내가 범죄를 저지른 증거가 있다고 말했기 때문이다’라고 말했다.
그는 수감돼 있던 동안 교도소 내 환경에 대해 아주 끔찍했고, 자신은 운이 좋은 편이었다고 했다. 그가 있었던 엘 잉카 교도소의 수감동에는 95명이 수용돼 있었으며, 한 수감동에는 17개의 방의 있다고 했다. 비니는 8명과 한 방을 썼고, 매트리스가 부족해 첫 한 달은 콘크리트 바닥에서 잠을 잤다고 했다. 화장실 상황은 최악이었고, 깨끗한 물을 공급받을 수 없었으며, 대부분의 시간 동안 아예 물을 쓸 수 없었다고 한다. 많은 폭력과 위험이 있는 건 당연했다고 한다. 2천명이 넘는 사람들의 엘 잉카 교도소의 비인간적인 환경에 갇혀 있다고 말했다.
비니는 수감된 후 지속해서 항소를 요청했고, 보석까지 요청했지만 말도 안 되는 이유들로 거절당했다고 했다. 결국 구속적부심청구권을 제출했고, 이것이 받아들여진 것이다. 판사의 판결을 통해 그의 구속이 여러 불법적인 방법으로 행해진 것이 드러났다고 그는 말했다.
그와 같은 날에 체포된 어산지에 대해 비니는 어산지가 걱정된다고 말했다. 그리고 어산지를 대사관에서 쫓아내 영국 경찰에 체포되도록 한 일은 에콰도르 정부가 안 하겠다고 약속했던 것인데, 그렇게 한 건 정말 부당다고 견해를 말했다.
비니는 ‘보안과 개인정보 보호 분야에서 일하고 있는 사람들에 대해 전 세계적으로 감시와 탄압이 있는 것 같다. 개인정보 보호는 이제 더 이상 인권이 아니다. 그래서 나는 두렵다. 개인정보 보호는 우리의 가장 중요한 권리 중 하나이고, 민주주의의 기본 권리이기 때문이다. 최근 몇 년 동안 이런 일들이 만연해오고 있는 것에 대해 나는 두렵다’라고 말했다.
비니는 개인정보와 보안 관련 전문가로 10년 넘게 일해왔다. 그는 유럽연합 집행위원회가 만든 DECODE 프로젝트에서 권력 분권화와 유럽 시민들의 개인정보 보호를 강화시키는 일을 하는 등, 여러 기관들과 함께 사람들의 보안을 위한 소프트웨어를 개발해 전 세계에 공급하는 일을 한 것으로 알려져 있다.
또한 사법절차를 무시하고 자행된 살인 등을 조사하는 저널리스트들이 위협과 위험에 처해지면, 그에게 보안 관련 도움을 요청하기도 한다고 한다.
이러한 일들을 해서 타겟이 된 것이냐는 질문에 그는 어산지의 친구들과 인권에 대해 생각하는 사람들이 타겟이 되는 것 같다고 말했다.
Ola Bini, Privacy Activist and Julian Assange Friend, Speaks Out After Release from Ecuadorian Jail
Last week, an Ecuadorian judge ordered the release of Swedish programmer and data privacy activist Ola Bini, who spent more than two months in jail without charge. Bini is a friend of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. He was arrested in Quito on the same day that Assange was forcibly taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. We speak with Ola Bini in Quito, where he remains under investigation for allegedly hacking the Ecuadorian government. He says, “Through the whole process, 70 days in prison, and all of the days since, we’ve been asking the prosecution to tell us what it is I have done. And they still have not actually given us any single answer.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. We end today’s show in Quito, Ecuador, where we’re joined by Ola Bini, a Swedish programmer and data privacy activist, who was recently freed after spending more than two months in an Ecuadorian jail without charge. Ola Bini is a friend of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. He was arrested in Quito April 11th, the same day Assange was forcibly taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to the Belmarsh Prison, where he is incarcerated today. On Thursday, Ola Bini briefly spoke to reporters after a judge ordered his release.
OLA BINI: We have proven my innocence for the first time, and we will continue to prove my innocence. I want to thank the judges for showing what we’ve been saying the whole time, that this process has been illegal and that I was illegally detained.
AMY GOODMAN: Ola Bini has lived in Ecuador for five years, where he’s worked at the Quito-based Center for Digital Autonomy. During that time, he also traveled to London to meet with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
This all comes as Ecuador’s right-wing President Lenín Moreno is facing a corruption probe after the leak of internal documents exposed he had secretly set up multiple offshore bank accounts. Moreno has accused WikiLeaks of being involved in the leak. Ola Bini has been accused of hacking the Ecuadorian government, but no charges have been filed against him. He remains under investigation, has been barred from leaving Ecuador.
The United States has also expressed interest in Bini’s case. The Associated Press reported earlier this month the U.S. Justice Department has received permission from Ecuadorian authorities to question him.
Ola Bini joins us now from Quito, Ecuador.
Ola, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about your release and what you—I was going to say “are being charged with,” but you haven’t been charged. Why were you arrested?
OLA BINI: Hello, Amy. It’s great to be here again, and it’s great to hear you. Why was I arrested? That’s a very, very good question. We don’t know. We’re still trying to get an answer to this. In fact, through the whole process, 70 days in prison and all the days since, we have been asking the prosecution to tell us what it is I have done, and they still haven’t actually given us any single answer. So, getting released, getting a tribunal, getting a tribunal telling us that they accepted our habeas corpus, that my detention and arrest was illegal, has been a very, very good victory for us, showing what we have been saying from the beginning, that this process has simply not been regularly done. And we are still waiting to understand what it is I’m supposed to have done.
AMY GOODMAN: You were arrested just after Julian Assange was taken forcibly out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. So I assume you had seen those images. Is that right?
OLA BINI: Yes, that’s correct. I woke up on the early morning on Thursday, April 11th, and I received the news about what happened to Julian. And then, a few hours later, I went to the airport, because I had a previously planned trip to Japan, and I was planning on leaving, purely on coincidence the same day. And when I went to the gate, when I came to the gate, I was detained by people who said they were police officers, but not providing any identification.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you believe your arrest is connected to Julian Assange?
OLA BINI: At this point, I have no idea why it happened the same day. The prosecution has tried to introduce Julian Assange as a component of the case he’s trying to make against me, but no strict connections have been made so far. So, we don’t know.
AMY GOODMAN: Did they take all of your equipment, your electronic equipment? Did they take your phone, your computer?
OLA BINI: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you understand has happened to it?
OLA BINI: Yes, they took all of my equipment. Oh, so, they took all of my equipment that I had with me when I was at the airport. And later, during the night, they actually took me to the outside of my apartment. They told me they had an order to enter my apartment, but they never showed the order to enter my apartment. Then they asked if I was willing to help them come in, and voluntarily help them. I said I needed my lawyer to do that. And they denied—they ignored that request and entered without my permission. And as far as I know, all of my technical equipment in my apartment has been taken. They have also taken about 14 or 15 books that are primarily about computer science. And this was presented during the first hearing.
In terms of what has happened with it, we have had several hearings at the forensics lab here in Quito, where they have asked me to provide the passwords for my devices. I have refused to provide the passwords, primarily because they still haven’t told me what I’ve done. So, what I’ve told the prosecutor is, once they tell me what I’ve done, when I’ve done it, how I’ve done it, where I’ve done it, I will consider helping them. But until then, we are not going to do that. The last hearing we had, the technical division said that they don’t know how to open my devices, and they were going to ask for international help. And that’s the last official information that we have about this.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Ola Bini, there have been reports that U.S. investigators have been granted permission by Ecuador to question you. Associated Press reports you’re due to be questioned on, what, June 27th. Can you explain what is the role of the United States in your arrest?
OLA BINI: So, first of all, I received the request to interview me on Tuesday in this week. This was a request from the Ecuadorian judiciary. And when you receive that kind of request, you cannot deny it. So, I was planning on presenting myself and going there with my lawyer and see what questions they were going to ask. However, on Friday, we found out that the United States government has actually withdrawn the request. And they are now not interested in asking me any questions anymore, apparently.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, I understood that some of Julian Assange’s or all of his equipment, the Ecuadorian government had perhaps given it to the British government, from the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he lived for about seven years. Do you know if your equipment has been handed to the United States?
OLA BINI: As far as I know, it’s still here in Quito. That’s the only legal way. And as far as I know, it wouldn’t be legal for the prosecution to send it anywhere else.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you a member of WikiLeaks? You clearly know Julian Assange. You visited him in the embassy, where he had political asylum by Ecuador under the previous president.
OLA BINI: Julian Assange is only a friend of mine. I have never worked with Julian. I have never worked with WikiLeaks. And I am categorically not a member of WikiLeaks, and I have never been a member of WikiLeaks.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what the Ecuadorian government has accused you of, the president, what he has accused you of, why he is so concerned about a document leak?
OLA BINI: Yeah. This is a little bit confusing, because, of course, the prosecution hasn’t accused me of anything. In fact, I’m being investigated under what’s called a delito. And this delito, or a statute, is basically just a category of a type of crime. And this crime is basically that I have in some way adversely impacted the integrity of computer systems. But what that actually means with computer systems that I have impacted in any way, we have no idea. Now, of course, the president has gone on TV and saying that I have done things—
AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.
OLA BINI: —like breaking into computer systems, breaking into mobile phones and stealing documents. But this is not something that the—
AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, but we’ll do Part 2 and post it online at democracynow.org. Ola Bini, thanks for joining us.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to Part 2 of our conversation with Ola Bini. He is a computer privacy activist who has lived in Ecuador for five years. On April 11th, he was arrested in Quito, Ecuador, just after Julian Assange was arrested in London. He was held for two months and then recently released, but he is not free to leave Ecuador.
This all comes as Ecuador’s right-wing President Lenín Moreno is facing a corruption probe after the leak of internal documents exposed he had secretly set up multiple offshore bank accounts. Moreno has accused WikiLeaks of being involved in the leak. Ola Bini has been accused of hacking the Ecuadorian government, but no charges have been filed against him. He remains under investigation and can’t leave Ecuador. The United States has also expressed interest in Ola’s case.
So, Ola Bini, in Part 1 of this discussion, you talked about how you were arrested. Talk about this leak of documents that the president of Ecuador is accusing you of being involved with, though no charges have officially been brought?
OLA BINI: OK. So, this leak, first of all, we have to be careful. The president has never actually accused me of any leak, as far as I know. The prosecution has never accused me of any leak. The only place that has linked me to any kind of leak was on Facebook. So, and the funny part is, of course, I don’t actually know anything about this leak. I’ve never read it. I’ve never seen the pictures that they talk about. So, what the president said on TV has been—
AMY GOODMAN: And when you say Facebook, whose Facebook?
OLA BINI: I don’t know. This was something that came out after I was actually arrested, so I’ve only been told about it by secondhand. And also, of course, I don’t have a Facebook account, so I’ve never seen it myself, even after coming out.
AMY GOODMAN: Continue with what you were saying.
OLA BINI: Yes, sure. So, the president on TV has accused me of breaking into a system, of breaking into mobile phones and of also stealing information. But when we called him to give testimony or give his version of events, he actually claimed that he didn’t know anything about the situation, and he claimed that the information he was relaying came from the minister of the interior, María Paula Romo. But when we asked María Paula Romo and she gave her version, her testimony, she actually claimed that they didn’t have any evidence of me having committed any crimes whatsoever, which is in complete contradiction because on TV she has claimed they do have evidence of me committing a crime.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been held since April 11th. You just got out of jail, upon the—
OLA BINI: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —demand of a judge. Describe the conditions in the prison.
OLA BINI: OK. So, the conditions have actually been pretty terrible. I was lucky enough to be in one the most—one of the safest and best parts of the prison where I was being held, in CDP El Inca. But there was extreme overcrowding in the whole prison. We were 95 people in my cell block, in a cell block that had 17 cells. We were sleeping about eight people in my cell. I spent the first month sleeping on the floor, on the concrete floor, because there was no possibility of having mattresses or beds for everyone. The sanitary conditions were extremely bad, no access to clean water, most of the time no access to any water at all, and never any access to warm water. People were sick through most of this period. And, of course, there were a lot of violence and a lot of danger in this environment, as well. I would say that, in my opinion, the people—the over 2,000 people that are being held at El Inca are being held in inhuman conditions.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you get out?
OLA BINI: How I got out? So, we’ve tried several times to get me out, initially by appealing, having an appeal hearing and appealing the decision to imprison me. Second, we tried to get me out on bail, and that was also denied, for reasons that were quite astounding to us. But finally, we submitted a writ of habeas corpus, and the tribunal accepted this habeas corpus. And the habeas corpus showed—or, the tribunal’s decision showed that the habeas corpus was correct, because the initial detainment was done in an illegal way, in several different illegal ways, as a matter of fact.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you comment, since you were arrested the same day as your friend, Julian Assange, in London—can you comment on his arrest? And also, talk about whether you see a broader crackdown on journalists right now.
OLA BINI: Yes, absolutely. I’m very sad about what happened to Julian. I think that—I’m both sad and I’m worried about my friend. I think that what Ecuador—Ecuador revoking his asylum and allowing the British police to come in and arrest him was something that they had promised to not do. And the way they did it, actually, was really, really bad.
And I do feel like there is a wider crackdown. I think that global surveillance, global—the global crackdown on people working in security and privacy fields, and this general feeling that privacy is not a human right anymore, this is something that scares me a lot, because, for me, privacy is one of the most important rights we have. It’s the fundamental right for democracy, in my opinion. So, it scares me that this is a trend that we’re seeing more and more over the last few years.
AMY GOODMAN: Ola Bini, can you talk about your own work as a data privacy activist? You were born in Sweden. Why you ended up going to Ecuador? Your work there?
OLA BINI: So, that’s a long story, but I can say, over the last 10 years, privacy and security has been my main passion. And the work I do is really two different kinds of work. Primarily, I am a software developer, so I write programs that I give away to the whole world, that tries to improve people’s security. I work and collaborate with different organizations to do this, so it’s not work that I do alone. For example, I’ve been part of the advisory board for the DECODE project that the European Commission has created, that is meant to increase decentralization and privacy of citizens in the European Union. I’ve also contributed to many different projects, including Tor, including OTR and other projects that are meant to protect the security and privacy of everyone in the world.
Another part of my work has been, as a security expert, I sometimes get asked by friends around the world, outside of Ecuador—has been asking me to come and help them give advice on security. For example, journalists that work on investigating extrajudicial killings, they’re facing extreme threats and extreme risks. And sometimes I’ve gone and helped these kind of people, giving them advice on how to be more secure. Of course, I cannot mention any names of organizations where I’ve helped, but that kind of work has also been an important part of what I do.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel like you’re being targeted for that?
OLA BINI: I don’t know. I can only speculate. I think that I’m—I think that people that are friends of Julian are being targeted. And I think that people that care about human rights are being targeted.
AMY GOODMAN: Ola Bini is a Swedish programmer and data privacy activist, arrested in Ecuador April 11th, just hours after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London, taken out by force by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had lived and had been granted political asylum for the past seven years. The new president of Ecuador revoked that asylum, and now Julian Assange has been imprisoned in the Belmarsh Prison in London. It remains to be seen what will happen with Ola Bini, while he has been freed on orders of a judge after two months in an Ecuadorian jail. He has been told he cannot leave Ecuador. No charges have been brought against him.