Ecuador: U.S. Ambassador Must Leave Over WikiLeaks Cables

(Reuters) - Ecuador said on Tuesday it had declared the U.S. ambassador to the country "persona non grata," demanding the envoy leave over U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reporting alleged police corruption.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters he had not received a satisfactory explanation from U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges about cables previously released by Wikileaks and signed by her office.

"Ecuador's government has decided to consider this woman as a persona non grata... we have asked her to leave the country in the shortest time possible," he said.

Patino said the decision did not mean Ecuador was breaking off relations with the United States.

Wikileaks has caused an international uproar by handing sensitive U.S. diplomatic documents to the media.

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico resigned last month after a public spat with President Felipe Calderon. Tensions were fueled by Wikileaks reports of comments made by the envoy about the Mexico's lack of coordination battling drug cartels.

Ecuador late last year had initially offered Wikileaks founder Julian Assange the possibility of working and seeking residency in the Andean country. But President Rafael Correa later withdrew the offer saying Assange had broken U.S. laws.

(Reporting by Quito newsroom, editing by Pat Markey)

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