Ecuador’s arrested former vice-president taken to hospital

Estimated read time 3 min read

Ecuador’s former vice-president Jorge Glas has reportedly been taken to hospital from the maximum security jail where he was being held – three days after the politician was captured inside Mexico’s embassy in Quito during a police raid that drew outrage across Latin America.

Glas, 54, was sent to the Alcatraz-inspired prison La Roca (the Rock) in Guayaquil on Saturday, one day after being detained by Ecuadorian security forces inside the Mexican mission where he had sought asylum.

Ecuador’s highly controversial decision to arrest Glas, which was condemned from Brasília to Brussels, was widely seen as a flagrant violation of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations under which embassy premises are considered “inviolable”.

In another dramatic development, reports in the Ecuadorian media on Monday afternoon said Glas had been taken from La Roca to a nearby naval hospital in an ambulance. It was not immediately clear why the former vice-president – who had been twice convicted of corruption and was considered a fugitive by Ecuadorian authorities – had been taken to hospital. Several local newspapers reported that the politician had suffered drug intoxication, although it was not immediately possible to verify the claims.

In a statement, Glas’s lawyer, Andrés Villegas Pico, said he had been told by the prison warden that his client had been found “unawakened” in his cell at 8.30am.

“Security personnel claimed Glas had not wanted to eat food for the whole of Sunday … it is assumed he took an overdose of medication in order to sleep,” Villegas added.

His lawyer said he had “no further details of what happened, of his medical progress, or a clear diagnosis”, adding: “His life is in danger.”

Ecuador’s prison authority claimed that, after refusing prison food for 24 hours, Glas had suffered a “possible imbalance” and been taken to hospital by paramedics. His condition was stable and he would remain under observation, it said on Monday afternoon.

As news of his admission to hospital spread, the exiled former leftist president Rafael Correa, under whom Glas served from 2013 to 2017, tweeted: “This was what I feared. The scoundrels will jump for joy. Hang in there, Jorge!”

The decision by Ecuador’s incumbent conservative president, Daniel Noboa, to order the Friday night raid on Mexico’s embassy, which was painted as part of his nascent “war on crime”, prompted a torrent of criticism from across the political spectrum in Latin America.

“It was an authoritarian act … not even the fearful [Chilean dictator Augusto] Pinochet and others had been so bold,” the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, told reporters on Monday.

European governments also condemned Ecuador’s move. “All governments must respect the inviolability of diplomatic missions,” the UK’s Foreign Office said on Sunday. “The safety and security of diplomatic premises and staff is a fundamental principle guiding diplomatic relations.”

Noboa issued a statement on Monday afternoon in which he sought to justify his actions to the international community. The 36-year-old politician claimed he had “taken exceptional decisions in order to protect national security, the rule of law and the dignity of a people who will not tolerate any kind of impunity for criminals, crooks, corrupt people or narco-terrorists”.

“Ecuador is a country of peace and justice, which respects all nations and international law,” the president said.


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