Ola Bini is a Swedish free/open source software developer who lives in Quito, Ecudaor; as he prepared to depart for a long-planned (and previously publicly announced) vacation in Japan, he was seized by Ecuadorean police, who claimed he was fleeing the country after the arrest of Julian Assange; authorities had a warrant for a "Russian hacker" (Bini is neither Russian, nor a hacker) and they have held him without reading him his rights, offering him a translator, or allowing him to contact his lawyer.
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Shitty roommate and brilliant legal tactician Julian Assange's ploy to assure his freedom from persecution by suing the only country in the world willing to shield him from those longing to throw him in the clink has hit a tiny snag: a language barrier. According to the English-speaking Assange, his self-righteous blather differs from what the rest of the English-speaking world gets along with:
From The Sydney Morning Herald:
The first hearing in Julian Assange's lawsuit against Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Ministry was suspended as the WikiLeaks founder was unable to understand his translator, and the judge called for a replacement fluent in "Australian."
Speaking from Ecuador's Embassy in London via Skype, Assange said the court-appointed translation service was "not good enough." Judge Karina Martinez said that it was indispensable that Assange testify, and said the court had erred by appointing a translator who only spoke English, apparently under the impression that Australian dialect is unintelligible to other anglophones.
Once Assange finds himself an Australian translator, the courts will go forward with his suit against the Ecuadorian government. They took away his Internet! They want him to clean his room! They've been sheltering him from European law enforcement in their London Embassy since 2012! The nerve.
Unsurprisingly, Ecuador is less than impressed with their long-term political houseguest filing suit against them. In response to Assange's whinging, the nation's rolled back their offer to assist him with negotiating his fate with the British government.
I don't normally go in for courtroom drama, but I am so here for this shit. Read the rest
A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats.
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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran embassy to the United Kingdom in London for more than 5 years, believing that if he were taken into custody by the UK police, he would face extradition to the USA where he would be tried for publishing details of war crimes committed by the US military.
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Agent X and Agent Full Stop are a pair of graffiti activists who call themselves Acción Ortográfica Quito: they sneak around the streets of Quito, Ecuador with cans of red spray-paint, correcting the punctuation, grammar and spelling of the city's prolific graffiti writers, bringing legibility to boasts, professions of love, and political messages. Read the rest
Opponents of Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa -- himself a prolific and shrewd social media campaigner -- have had their social media accounts hacked and used to dump embarrassing transcripts purporting to show their party in disarray and romantic scandals in their personal lives. Read the rest
The Ecuadoran Embassy in London has confirmed Wikileaks' accusation that it terminated Julian Assange's access to its wifi network because it disapproved of Assange and Wikileaks' "intervention in the affairs of other states" by publishing material pertaining to the impending US election. Read the rest
Following on their earlier statement that "Julian Assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party," the Wikileaks organization has accused Ecuador of being that state party. Read the rest
All over the world, laws promulgated by the US Trade Representative ban breaking digital locks -- the "Digital Rights Management" technologies that lock up our TVs, tablets, phones, games consoles, cars, insulin pumps, tractors, coffee makers, etc -- even if you're breaking them to do something legal, for example, making "fair use" (like parodies, critiques, and new, transformative works like mashups). Read the rest
A stray dog joined a Swedish adventure race team competing in Ecuador. That's amazing in and of itself, but what happened after the race finished is just awesome. Stories like this one remind me that there are still good people in the world. Read the rest
In Ecuador, the nation's head of intelligence agency "has asked the legislature to draft a bill that would outlaw the publication of classified documents, amid growing concerns over a government clampdown on the media," writes Rosie Gray at Buzzfeed. The South American country has been in the news recently for providing shelter to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London, and for offering a travel document to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Read the rest
Representatives of the government of Ecuador in London claim to have discovered a hidden microphone inside its London embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living. The bug is being analyzed by forensics experts, and Ecuador intends to diclose more information on who controlled or planted it as they are available. It "was found inside the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ana Alban, at the time of a visit to the embassy by Patino to meet with Assange on June 16."
[Reuters] Read the rest
After US powerful US members of Congress started to threaten Ecuador with trade sanctions should it offer asylum to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Ecuador pre-emptively canceled its trade agreement with the US, backing out of the Andean Trade Preference Act. They called the US threats blackmail. ""Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, nor does it trade with principles or submit them to mercantile interests, however important those may be." -Fernando Alvarado, communications secretary, government of Ecuador. Read the rest
Edward Snowden has disappeared. The NSA whistleblower, who was presumed to be on a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow and thence to Havana did not board the flight to Havana. Some doubt whether he actually went to Moscow and suggest that though he had left Hong Kong, his alleged flight to Russia was a feint, misinformation to throw the press and governments off his tail. Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador.
Wherever he is, we hope he's safe.
The Guardian's Paul Owen is doing a great job of liveblogging the twists and turns in this remarkable story.
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• Edward Snowden’s whereabouts are currently unknown after he failed to get on an Aeroflot flight the Russian airline said he was booked on from Moscow to Havana. It has been assumed that he was heading via Cuba for Ecuador; Quito’s foreign minister Ricardo Patiño Aroca said yesterday the country had received an asylum application from him. But amid farcical scenes the plane full of journalists – and presumably representatives of various governments – took off for Cuba without him. One reporter tweeted a plaintive picture of Snowden’s empty chair.
• Patino said Snowden – the former CIA analyst whose leaks to the Guardian about US intelligence programmes have caused controversy around the world – had arrived in Russia and said his government was currently considering his asylum request. But he said Quito did not know where Snowden was at this moment – or where he was going next.
Ecuador's foreign ministry has confirmed that Edward Snowden has officially applied for asylum in Ecuador. He left Hong Kong this morning, landed in Moscow, and is said to be heading for Cuba next.
Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, earlier wrote on Twitter that Snowden had applied for asylum. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently sheltering in Ecuador's embassy in London as he fights extradition to Sweden on sex assault charges.
In a statement, WikiLeaks said: "Mr Snowden ... is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks.
Snowden applies for Ecuador asylum [Al Jazeera] Read the rest
Ecuador's recent constitutional recognition of the "rights of Nature" is getting its first major workout in a groundbreaking lawsuit against BP: "This morning we filed in the constitutional court of Ecuador this lawsuit defending the rights of nature in particular the right of the Gulf of Mexico and the sea which has been violated by the BP oil spill. We see this as a test case of the rights of nature enshrined in the constitution of Ecuador--it's about universal jurisdiction beyond the boundaries of Ecuador because nature has rights everywhere."
BP Sued in Ecuadorian Court For Violating Rights of Nature
The damaging effects of the BP Spill: You ain't seen nothin' yet ...
BP disaster update: BP spills coffee, birds "cooking" to death in ... Read the rest