Wednesday, May 22

Ex-Ecuadorean Vice President, Arrested at Mexican Embassy, Is Hospitalized

Authorities found a former Ecuadorean vice president, Jorge Glas, in a “deep self-induced coma” in jail on Monday, just days after he was captured by the police in a dramatic arrest inside the Mexican embassy in Quito.

Mr. Glas had ingested anti-depressants and sedatives, according to a police report, and was being transferred to a military hospital for observation.

By Monday night, Ecuador’s prison authority, known as the SNAI, said in a statement that Mr. Glas, 54, was in stable condition.

The statement added that he was in the hospital because of his refusal to eat food during the past 24 hours, an apparent contradiction to the police report of an overdose. The SNAI said that he would remain under observation before returning to jail.

The former vice president faces a charge of embezzlement in Ecuador, and he had sought refuge in the Mexican embassy in an attempt to avoid arrest. He became the subject of a diplomatic scuffle last week when police in Quito entered the embassy and successfully captured him, eventually transferring him to a detention center in the large port city of Guayaquil.

A 1961 diplomatic treaty says that governments cannot enter foreign embassies without permission from the embassy’s host country, establishing a line that has been crossed only on rare occasions.

Ecuador’s new president, Daniel Noboa, has been eager to appear tough on crime amid a growing security crisis in the region, and he has defended the decision to detain Mr. Glas, calling him a criminal, not a political prisoner.

On Monday, just as the news of Mr. Glas’ overdose broke, Mr. Noboa reiterated this position, saying that he had an “obligation” to arrest people like Mr. Glas or the country would face “the imminent risk of their escape.”

“Ecuador is a country of peace and justice,” he continued, “which respects all nations and international law.”

Mr. Glas is a longtime ally of former president Rafael Correa, serving as his vice president from 2013 to 2017. (Mr. Noboa defeated a Correa ally in a presidential election last year.)

In 2017, Mr. Glas was found guilty of receiving bribes from Odebrecht, an international construction giant, and sentenced to six years in prison.

In 2020, he was embroiled in a second bribery case, along with Mr. Correa, and given an additional eight-year sentence.

In 2022, Mr. Glas was released early from prison, but then faced a third charge of embezzlement, and asked for asylum from Mexico last December.

On Monday evening, lawyers, family members and political allies of Mr. Glas stood outside the Naval Hospital in Guayaquil, where they said he was being held.

His lawyers say that he is being persecuted for his politics. At the hospital, one of them, Marcel Orellana, said that they had been denied access to see him.

“The continuity of persecution is clear,” Mr. Orellana said, “even with his deteriorating state of health. Basic guarantees, such as the right to defense, are being broken and the world and all of Ecuador have to know this.”

Genevieve Glatsky contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia.