QUITO — US ambassador to Ecuador, Heather Hodges, left the country Tuesday a week after being declared "persona non grata" over a leaked diplomatic cable critical of President Rafael Correa.
The US State Department has responded to the Ecuadoran action by ordering a tit-for-tat expulsion of Quito's envoy to Washington, Luis Gallegos.
A US embassy source said Hodges "left Ecuador this morning."
The flap erupted a week ago after whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released a 2009 cable in which Hodges says Correa appointed a general, Jaime Hurtado, chief of police knowing he was corrupt.
Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the embassies will be headed by their respective charge d'affairs until new ambassadors are appointed.
In February 2009, Correa expelled two other US diplomats, Mark Sullivan and Armando Astorga, accusing them of meddling in the country's internal affairs. He said Sullivan was the CIA chief in Ecuador.
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