The parents of a Swedish programmer who was an early ally of Julian Assange and Wikileaks and who has now been accused of trying to blackmail Ecuador’s president, is facing threats in jail, his parents have claimed.
Ola Bini, 36, was arrested last Thursday in Ecuador, hours after Mr Assange was detained by police in London who entered the Ecuadorian embassy.
Mr Assange was charged with skipping bail by a London judge, while the US charged him with conspiring with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to hack a US computer. Defenders of Mr Assange say the US is trying to punish the Wikileaks founder for exposing embarrassing and damaging information about Washington’s actions, including the behaviour of its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prosecutors in Ecuador, have said they intend to charge Mr Bini, a longtime Wikileaks defender, with seeking to blackmail Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno, who turned against Mr Assange and invited the British authorities to enter the embassy last week and arrest him.
On Tuesday, Mr Bini’s parents, Dag Gustafsson and Gorel Bini, professed their son’s innocence and said they would remain in Ecuador until he was released.
“We want to say that Ola is not feeling safe, because of some threats inside,” Mr Gustafsson told reporters.
His wife added: “Right now, he’s ok. But he’s worried.”
Last week, Ecuador’s interior minister Maria Paula Romo, told local media the Swedish coder, who has long worked with social justice groups, had been arrested for “investigative purposes”.
“For several years now, one of the key members of this WikiLeaks organisation and a person close to Mr Julian Assange has lived in Ecuador, and we have sufficient evidence that he has been collaborating with the destabilisation attempts against the government,” she said.
According to the Associated Press, she added: “It’s up to the justice system to determine if he committed a crime. But we can’t allow Ecuador to become a centre for piracy and spying. That period in our history is over.”
Ms Romo said Bini had travelled at least 12 times to meet with Assange at the London embassy. She said he was also in Venezuela earlier this year at around the same time as a close aide to Mr Moreno’s former mentor turned arch enemy, Rafael Correa. Mr Correa, a former president who frequently criticised the US, had initially offered asylum to Mr Assange.