QUITO – Ecuador's foreign minister announced here Wednesday that U.S. Embassy First Secretary Mark Sullivan is being expelled for interfering in the internal workings of the Andean nation's police.
Fander Falconi told a press conference 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.
Falconi was joined at the news conference by the ministers of interior, Gustavo Jalkh, and security, Miguel Carvajal.
Sullivan sought to condition continuing U.S. aid to the National Police on his having a say in personnel decisions, Falconi said.
“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.
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.”
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced two weeks ago that he was expelling Armando Astorga, the attache of the U.S. 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, U.S. 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.
Offended by Astorga's letter, Correa ordered the police to return all equipment they had received from the U.S. Embassy, which mainly consisted of computers.
It subsequently emerged that some 15 years' worth of classified information had been left on the computers handed over to the embassy, spurring another investigation that remains ongoing. EFE