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Ecuador’s ex-VP hospitalised after capture in embassy raid

Ecuador's ex-vice president Jorge Glas was arrested when police stormed Mexico's embassy in Quito
Ecuador's ex-vice president Jorge Glas was arrested when police stormed Mexico's embassy in Quito - Copyright AFP Olivier MORIN
Ecuador's ex-vice president Jorge Glas was arrested when police stormed Mexico's embassy in Quito - Copyright AFP Olivier MORIN

Ecuador’s ex-vice president Jorge Glas, arrested in a raid on Mexico’s embassy in Quito, has been hospitalized after refusing to eat, the prison authority said Monday as a diplomatic spat over his capture  spiraled.

Glas, 54, was in a stable condition at a naval hospital in Guayaquil, the SNAI authority said in a statement, and will be kept under observation.

Ecuador carried out a raid on the embassy Friday to capture Glas, who sought refuge there last December pending a corruption investigation against him.

Mexico had granted him political refugee status just hours before.

Earlier Monday, a Brussels-based lawyer for Glas told AFP she feared for his life and pleaded for international help.

“I believe that Jorge Glas is at grave risk, at imminent risk, in the hands of the (Ecuadoran) government. It was a kidnapping, and I believe at any moment they could kill him,” Sonia Vera said.

The SNAI statement said Glas had not responded during roll-call at Guayas prison Monday.

He appeared to have fallen ill after refusing to eat for 24 hours, it added, and was taken to hospital.

Local media, citing a police report, said Glas went into a “self-induced coma” after taking antidepressants.

Late Friday, Ecuadoran special forces equipped with a battering ram surrounded the Mexican embassy, and at least one agent scaled the walls, in an almost unheard-of raid on diplomatic premises, which are considered inviolable sovereign territory.

The intrusion triggered a political storm, with Mexico, several other Latin American states, Spain, the European Union and the UN chief condemning it as a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention governing international relations.

Mexico, which cut diplomatic relations and pulled its diplomatic personnel from Ecuador, said it was filing a complaint at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

– ‘Truly authoritarian’ –

Mexico’s president said Monday the raid was a “truly authoritarian” action by his Ecuadoran counterpart Daniel Noboa, who took office in November aged just 35.

“When there are weak governments that do not have popular support or capacity… those who do not have experience come” to power, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at his regular morning news conference.

But “politics is a noble profession,” and when you lack experience or popular support, “you must act with prudence, balancing passion and reason,” he added.

Noboa said Monday that he was willing to “resolve any difference” with Mexico, but defended his government’s actions by saying Glas posed a flight risk.

“We could not allow sentenced criminals involved in very serious crimes to be given asylum,” the president said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld added Quito was open to “reestablishing relations with Mexico, respecting the sovereignty of our country.”

Glas, who served under graft-convicted leftist ex-president Rafael Correa from 2013 to 2017, had been released from prison in November 2022 after serving five years for corruption.

He faces new graft charges, for which an arrest warrant was issued in January.

The storming of the embassy came amid a diplomatic spat between Mexico and Ecuador.

Lopez Obrador irked Quito days before the raid by saying the murder of a popular candidate ahead of elections in Ecuador last year had boosted the chances of Noboa, who campaigned on clamping down on the narco violence that has engulfed the once-peaceful nation.

The Ecuadoran government said it found the comments offensive and ordered the Mexican ambassador to leave.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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