Ex-Ecuador president Mahuad: Corruption charges equal political persecution

Former Ecuadorean President Jamil Mahuad says an arrest warrant issued for him on corruption charges is unfounded political persecution.

Mahuad says in a statement emailed from his Harvard University account that he has argued since the case began in Ecuador 13 years ago that it was "predominantly political."

Interior Minister Jose Serrano announced the warrant Tuesday for alleged misappropriation of public funds during Ecuador's 1999 banking crisis.

Mahuad fled his homeland during a 2000 coup, settling in the United States, and has taught at Harvard.

During the crisis, he froze bank deposits and replaced Ecuador's sucre with the U.S. dollar. Mahuad said in Wednesday's email that he took what he knew would be an unpopular action to counter hyperinflation. In his words, "Freezing the deposits was the only way out."