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Ecuador justifies Mexican embassy raid

The authorities feared the escape of a former Ecuadoran vice president accused of corruption who had sought refuge at the mission

Ecuador on Saturday justified storming the Mexican embassy in Quito by saying that the decision was made by President Daniel Noboa to prevent the “imminent flight” of the country’s former vice president, Jorge Glas, who had sought refuge at the mission.

Glas fled to the embassy last year after being sentenced to six years in prison for bribery and corruption. Mexico subsequently spurned Ecuador’s repeated requests for permission to arrest the politician. On Friday, Mexico granted Glas asylum based on his insistence that he had been subjected to political persecution. However, on Friday evening, Ecuadorian police stormed the embassy and arrested him.

Gabriela Sommerfeld, Ecuador’s minister of foreign affairs, said the raid was a last resort after it exhausted all possibilities for diplomatic dialogue with Mexico.

“The decision of the [Ecuadorian] President was made… in the face of a real risk of an imminent flight of the citizen,” Sommerfeld said in a statement on Saturday.

She also refuted earlier claims by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that Glas was “a refugee” facing “persecution and harassment,” while the embassy said the raid was “a flagrant violation of international law.”

“The aforementioned citizen… in no way can be considered as a politically, religiously, or ethnically persecuted person,” Sommerfeld stated, adding that the Mexican embassy, by granting Glas asylum, “contributed to his failure to comply with the obligation to appear weekly before the judicial authority, thus affecting the democratic institutions of Ecuador” and “clearly contravening the fundamental principle of non-intervention in internal affairs of other states.”

Sommerfeld stressed that Mexico acted inappropriately in receiving Glas, as it is “unlawful” to grant asylum to people “convicted or prosecuted for common crimes and by competent courts.”

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Ecuadorian police on Saturday outside the Mexican Embassy in Quito.
Latin American diplomatic crisis intensifies

After his arrest at the embassy, Glas was taken to the attorney general’s office in Quito and then on to the port city of Guayaquil, where he will remain in custody at a high-security prison. Glas’ attorney, Sonia Vera, told AP news agency that his defense team was not allowed to speak with the former vice president while he was at the prosecutor’s office. The team is now working to file a habeas corpus petition.

Following the embassy raid, Mexico suspended diplomatic relations with Ecuador. Numerous Latin American nations, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela and others denounced Ecuador’s actions. Nicaragua joined Mexico in formally severing diplomatic ties with Quito.

April 07, 2024 at 03:34PM

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