Ecuador Asks U.S. Ambassador To Leave; Calls Move ‘Justifiable’
April 6, 2011 By Andrew OReilly
QUITO — Ecuador’s foreign ministry said yesterday that it was expelling the U.S. ambassador for accusing the just-retired national police commander of corruption and speculating that President Rafael Correa knew of his misdeeds.
The announcement from Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino makes U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges the latest U.S. diplomat to run into trouble after disclosures by the Wikileaks website.
“The government decided to declare Hodges as persona non grata. We have asked her to leave the country as quickly as possible,” Patino said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The cable, which was published Monday by the Madrid newspaper El Pais, quotes Hodges saying that commander Jaime Hurtado Vaco had used his position “to extort cash and property, misappropriate public funds, facilitate human trafficking, and obstruct the investigation and prosecution of corrupt colleagues,” The Los Angeles Times reports.
A spokesman for the State Department said that Hodges one of the department’s most experienced ambassadors, and that the administration considers her expulsion “unjustified.” Hodges has worked for the U.S. government in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Spain, before being assigned as ambassador to Ecuador.
There has been no word yet if the U.S. will respond by expelling the Ecuadoran ambassador to the U.S or by taking other actions.
Patino said the move to expel Hodges was “absolutely justifiable,” and that “we have not acted hastily but with pride and dignity,” according to NASDAQ.
Photo: State Department