Ecuador expels US diplomat for interfering in internal affairs

February 19th, 2009 - 7:54 am ICT by IANS  

Quito, Feb 18 (IANS) Ecuador has expelled the first secretary of US embassy, Mark Sullivan, for interfering in the internal workings of the Andean nation’s police, EFE reported Thursday.Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Fander Falconi told a press conference Wednesday that the decision to declare Sullivan persona non grata was based on a report from the National Police high command detailing the diplomat’s meddling.

He said the first secretary was given 48 hours to leave the country.

“We believe this decision represents a very strong signal of the direction of the government, which insists that all elements of international cooperation be transparent, public and (conducted) through formal accords,” the foreign minister said.

Interior Minister Gustavo Jalkh said that Sullivan’s alleged interference “undermines the jurisdiction and powers of national authorities able to make decisions regarding who should lead a special investigations unit.”

Two week ago, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa had expelled Armando Astorga, the attache of the US Homeland Security Department at the embassy in Quito, after the diplomat sent a letter to the National Police terminating Washington’s logistical support for the law enforcement agency.

Astorga’s letter followed a shakeup in the leadership of the national police’s Center for Anti-smuggling Operations, or COAC.

Correa said that unbeknownst to Ecuador’s government, US officials had routinely played a role in selecting the top officers of the COAC and other elements of the police force under the terms of “verbal” cooperation agreements.

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