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Because Of WikiLeaks Cable, Ecuador Expels U.S. Ambassador

Ecuador expelled and declared the U.S. ambassador to the country "persona non grata" after WikiLeaks released a new batch of diplomatic cables Monday.

The AP reports:

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced Ambassador Heather Hodges' expulsion at a news conference.

Patino said the ambassador, called to his office the previous afternoon, had not explained what led her to suggest in the 2009 cable that [President Rafael] Correa knew of "supposed acts of corruption by members of the police leadership and more specifically the former commander of the institution, Jaime Hurtado Vaca."

"We have asked that she leaves the country as soon as possible," Patino said.

The US State Department said the expulsion was "unjustified." The AFP reports that State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Hodges is one of the "most experienced and talented diplomats." He said US officials would examine their options.

Ecuador's El Universo reports that Patino was visibly upset at the news conference. He said that the worst part of the cable was that it said President Correa knew Vaca was corrupt and still kept him as commander of the national police in order to make sure he was "easily manipulated."

El Universoadds that when the American ambassador was called to Patino's office, she said nothing. She told him that because the cables had been stolen, the United States government didn't have to make any "observations, comments or clarifications about them."

On Monday, the Spanish El País released a cable given to the paper by WikiLeaks. In the cable, Ambassador Hodges sought advice on revoking the visa of Vaca.

El Universo notes that Ecuador hopes their decision to expel the ambassador doesn't affect "bilateral relations."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.