Former Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ordered to be Held in Detention for Crimes of Instigation
An Ecuadorian judge has ordered the arrest of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño of Ecuador after an investigation was launched, causing Minister Patiño to flee the country.
It is believed that Minister Patiño fled to Peru and then travelled to Mexico. From Mexico, Minister Patiño gave an interview in which he commented on the reasons for his arrest warrant, “There is a political persecution against me.”
The Attorney General’s office communicated that the office “began a criminal process against Ricardo Patiño for the alleged crime of instigation. [Patiño] had given a speech in which he instigated people to take over public institutions and close roads.” The Attorney General’s office added, “The judge accepted the request of the attorney general’s office, ordered pre-trial detention, and asked for the release of an Interpol red notice.”
Ricardo Patiño was Minister of Foreign Affairs under the previous government headed by former President Rafael Correa, who granted asylum to Julian Assange in 2012. Minister Patiño is also charged with connections to WikiLeaks, after current President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador terminated Assange’s asylum last week.
Former Minister Patiño gave an announcement regarding the arrest warrant, “I am accused of giving a speech during a meeting of our political organization. I’ve called on our supporters to accompany the people, take to the streets, to state institutions, and condemn the disastrous economic and social policy of the government of Lenín Moreno in Ecuador. Therefore, because of the dissent, because I gave a speech at a meeting, they wanted to arrest me.”
From a Skype call from an undisclosed location, Minister Patiño stated that he was still uncertain whether he would ask for political asylum. Patiño commented via Skype that no legislation of the American Convention of Human Rights establishes that expressing a political opinion or calling citizens to defend their rights is a crime.
President Correa’s government, under which Patiño served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was characterized by censoring political opinions that were against his government. Former President Correa is now exiled in Belgium as he faces criminal charges in Ecuador for kidnapping political dissidents in 2012 and corruption.
Minister Patiño has gone on to accuse President Moreno of colluding with the United States CIA, “All that Moreno does is an attempt to destroy what we have built. Undoubtedly, it was planned with CIA involvement. He is not smart enough to come up with something like this, so it is staged by the US embassy”.
It is uncertain what steps the Ecuadorian government will take to arrest Minister Patiño, and whether or not he will be extradited back to Ecuador. The investigation and arrest warrant for Patiño marks the new political turmoil between former President Correa and President Moreno, who previously served as President Correa’s Vice President.