International leaders condemn Ecuador after police break into the Mexican Embassy in Quito

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Quito (Ecuador):  International leaders have condemned Ecuador after police in the country’s capital broke into the Mexican Embassy to arrest a former vice president who had been granted political asylum.

The raid late Friday prompted Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to break off diplomatic relations with Ecuador, while his government’s foreign relations secretary said the move will be challenged at the World Court in The Hague.

Police broke through the external doors of the embassy in Quito to arrest Jorge Glas, who had been residing there since December. He had sought asylum after being indicted on corruption charges and it had been granted hours earlier.

The break-in was widely condemned.

The Organisation of American States in a statement reminded its members, which include Ecuador and Mexico, of their obligation not to “invoke norms of domestic law to justify non-compliance with their international obligations”.

The Spanish foreign ministry, in a statement on Sunday, said that “The entry by force into the Embassy of Mexico in Quito constitutes a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We call for respect for international law and harmony between Mexico and Ecuador, brotherly countries to Spain and members of the Ibero-American community.”

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that “the United States condemns any violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and takes very seriously the obligation of host countries under international law to respect the inviolability of diplomatic missions”.

He called on both countries to resolve their difference.

Honduran President Xiomara Castro, writing on X, characterised the raid as “an intolerable act for the international community” and a “violation of the sovereignty of the Mexican State and international law” because “it ignores the historical and fundamental right to asylum”.

Diplomatic premises are considered foreign soil and “inviolable” under the Vienna treaties and host country law enforcement agencies are not allowed to enter without the permission of the ambassador. People seeking asylum have lived anywhere from days to years at embassies around the world, including at Ecuador’s in London, which housed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for seven years as British police could not enter to arrest him.

Alicia Barcena, Mexico’s secretary of foreign relations, on Friday posted on the social media platform X that a number of diplomats suffered injuries during the break-in.

Barcena said Mexico would take the case to the International Court of Justice “to denounce Ecuador’s responsibility for violations of international law”. She also recalled Mexican diplomats.

On Saturday, Glas was taken from the attorney general’s office in Quito to the port city of Guayaquil, where he will remain in custody at a maximum-security prison.

People who had gathered outside the prosecutor’s office yelled “strength” as he left with a convoy of police and military vehicles.

Glas’ attorney, Sonia Vera, told The Associated Press that officers broke into his room and he resisted when they attempted to put his hands behind his back. She said the officers then “knocked him to the floor, kicked him in the head, in the spine, in the legs, the hands,” and when he “couldn’t walk, they dragged him out”.

Vera said the defense team was not allowed to speak with Glas while he was at the prosecutor’s office, and it is now working to file a habeas corpus petition.

Authorities are investigating Glas over alleged irregularities during his management of reconstruction efforts following a powerful earthquake in 2016 that killed hundreds of people. He was convicted on bribery and corruption charges in other cases.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld on Saturday told reporters that the decision to enter the embassy was made by President Daniel Noboa after considering Glas’ “imminent flight risk” and exhausting all possibilities for diplomatic dialogue with Mexico.

Mexico granted Glas asylum hours before the raid. Sommerfeld said “it is not legal to grant asylum to people convicted of common crimes and by competent courts”.

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