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ECUADOR EXPELS U.S. ENVOY
Ecuador expelled U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodgeson Tuesday after a Spanish newspaper published a classified diplomatic cable she had written that accused leftist President Rafael Correa of tolerating corruption.
Ms. Hodges, a career diplomat, learned of her expulsion when Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced it at a news conference. On Monday, Mr. Patino summoned her to his office to complain about the publication of the cable in El Pais newspaper in Madrid but made no mention about kicking her out of the South American country.
The Spanish newspaper based its story on a 2009 cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
“It is unfortunate that the published documents on WikiLeaks have made it impossible to continue collaborating with the current ambassador …, but we hope to work with a new ambassador,” the embassy said.
Ms. Hodges, ambassador to Ecuador since July 2008, said in the cable that Mr. Correa was aware of the “supposed acts of corruption by members of the police leadership and more specifically the former commander of the institution, Jaime Hurtado Vaca.”
She said Mr. Hurtado used his office to “extort cash and property, misappropriate public funds, facilitate human trafficking and obstruct the investigation and prosecution of corrupt colleagues.”
Ms. Hodges is the second U.S. ambassador to fall victim to a WikiLeaks disclosure.
Last month, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, resigned after Mexican President Felipe Calderon publicly vented his outrage over criticism of his administration in another U.S. diplomatic cable.
JUSTICE FOR SOME
The U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria on Tuesday criticized the country’s judicial system as “dishonest,” “corrupt” and tilted toward the rich. The country’s two top legal officials immediately dismissed his remarks as an insult to the judiciary.
“There are two justice systems in this country,” Ambassador James Warlicksaid at a legal forum. “One is for the affluent, who remain above the law and often bypass justice. The other is for the poor and ordinary Bulgarians.”
Referring to the practices of Germany and Switzerland, he also urged the Bulgarian government to confiscate the property of convicted criminals.
Those countries have “strong legislation, enabling them to freeze the assets of criminals,” he said.
Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor, Boris Velchev, and the president of the Supreme Court, Lazar Gruev, denounced the ambassador’s remarks, according to news reports from the capital, Sofia.
Mr. Warlick’s comments at a forum titled “National Security: The Strategic Dimensions of Crime” mark the second time in a month that he has criticized the government.
In early March, the ambassador denounced discrimination against Gypsies, or Roma, who are frequently despised throughout Europe.
“The Roma are also Bulgarian citizens who are entitled to their rights,” he said.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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