U.S. Expels Ecuadorian Ambassador

In response to Ecuador’s expulsion of the U.S. envoy earlier this week, the United States has expelled Ecuadorian Ambassador to Washington Luis Gallegos.

A State Department official said “the unjustified action” by the Ecuadorian government in expelling the U.S. ambassador left the United States with no other recourse.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Ecuador’s ambassador was summoned to the State Department Thursday and asked to leave the country as soon as possible.

U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges was asked to leave Ecuador earlier this week after a leaked diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Quito surfaced which, in part, claimed, "Corruption among Ecuadorian National Police officers is widespread and well-known."

The July 2009 cable was disseminated by WikiLeaks and published by Spanish daily El Pais on Monday.

The document also says that Jaime Hurtado, who had commanded the ENP from early 2008 through June 2009, had used his position to further illegal activities for personal enrichment, and that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa "must have been aware of them when he made the appointment."

"These observers believe that Correa may have wanted to have an ENP Chief whom he could easily manipulate," the message concludes.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said during a press conference in Quito that Hodges had been expelled after refusing to explain or make further comment on the cable when asked to do so.

With reporting by The Associated Press.

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