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Swedish software developer and programmer Ola Bini was declared innocent by an Ecuadorian court on 31 January, in a decision that sets a significant precedent in the defence of the rights to digital privacy and security.

Bini was arrested in April 2019 and charged with unauthorised access to the computer system of Ecuador’s National Telecommunications Corporation. The decision to acquit came after a concerted campaign over the past years in defence of Bini and human rights online, involving Ecuadorian and international civil society organisations such la Asociación de Software Libre del Ecuador, Indymedia Ecuador, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Direitos na Rede and APC.

From the outset, the case against Bini was marred by irregularities and government interference. The court’s decision marks a milestone for Ecuador and the rest of the region. According to Bini himself, this was the first time an Ecuadorian court had discussed the issue of access to an informatic system. "This decision makes Ecuador a safer place for cybersecurity,” he stated.

While APC welcomes the court’s decision, it will continue to closely monitor Bini’s case as the prosecution has already declared that it will file an appeal. At a time when access to the internet is becoming increasingly essential for almost every aspect of daily life, it is crucial to stand up for human rights defenders whose technical expertise is key for ensuring digital security.