Exiled former Ecuadorian president doesn’t rule out political comeback

BRUSSELS ( Associated Press) – Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said the political asylum granted to him in Belgium is proof that he has been persecuted by his country’s authorities and has prevented his return to politics in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday. did not deny.

Correa, who was convicted of corruption in 2020 and sentenced to eight years in prison in absentia, has been living in his wife’s native Belgium since 2017.

Although Ecuadorian authorities have previously sought his arrest and extradition, thus far he has been allowed to remain in Belgium.

Ecuador’s National Court of Justice sent a new extradition request to Korea last week, but it has since emerged that Belgium’s commissioner general for refugees and stateless persons granted asylum to a former head of state with refugee status .

The agency has issued a certificate on April 15 that the Associated Press has seen.

Korea said it can now travel safely around the world except Ecuador.

“I give conferences, I give financial advice, so I have to go to work, to earn,” he said.

Korea said the only way to stop what it perceives as political oppression would be to hold an elected office again.

“So if I need to return to my country to win the election, I should do so,” he said.

Ivan Saquisela, president of Ecuador’s National Court of Justice, said last week that he had signed an order starting the extradition process in connection with Korea’s conviction in a corruption case. At the time, prosecutors said the former president oversaw a plot in which foreign and local businesses paid cash to his now-defunct Alianza PAIS political party in exchange for lucrative public works contracts.

Korea continues to deny any wrongdoing and presents itself as a political witch hunt.

Korea said, “We are the persecuted, not the corrupt people.” He said that he and his family were being harassed after leaving for Belgium.

Korea, identified with the Latin American leftist movement, stepped down in May 2017 after a decade at the helm of the Andean country.

Since then he has been wanted for extradition three times, once in a kidnapping case of one of his opponents and twice after being found guilty in the same bribery case.

Korea’s lawyer Christoph Marchand said the asylum application was filed because the former head of state was targeted for political reasons.

“It is not easy for the former head of state to achieve political refugee status,” Marchand said. “We had to convince them that Ecuador was facing a serious problem concerning the freedom of justice.”

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