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Ecuador News

Colleague of Assange arrested at Quito airport, suspected of being part of hacking ring

A man with close ties to Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested as he tried to leave Ecuador, the country’s interior ministry says.

Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo

Interior Minister María Paula Romo did not name the man but said he had been arrested for “investigative purposes.” An unnamed government official told the Associated Press that the man is Ola Bini, a Swedish software developer.

The arrest came shortly after Assange was himself arrested at Ecuador’s British embassy in London.

“A person close to Wikileaks, who has been residing in Ecuador, was arrested this afternoon when he was preparing to travel to Japan,” Ecuador’s interior ministry tweeted late on Thursday. On Thursday morning, Romo said that an investigation had determined that two Russian hackers associated with WikiLeaks were living and working in Ecuador. The unnamed source said that Bini was associated with the alleged hackers.

Bini has lived in Ecuador for several years and has frequently travelled to the country’s London embassy where Assange had been staying, Romo told CNN’s Spanish language service.

“At this point, he is being detained simply for investigation purposes,” she said.

An Ecuadorian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that Mr Bini had been arrested at Quito Airport. As news of the arrest broke, friends and colleagues of Bini expressed their concern on social media.

“I’m very concerned to hear that [he] has been arrested,” Martin Fowler, a U.S.-based computer programmer, Tweeted. “He is a strong advocate and developer supporting privacy and has not been able to speak to any lawyers.”

On Thursday, Bini Twitted that Romo’s claims about the WikiLeaks hackers was part of a “witch hunt.”
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Credit: BBC, www.bbc.com