(CN) - The United States expelled the Ecuadorean ambassador on Thursday in the latest twist of a feud spawned by government documents published through WikiLeaks.
The U.S. ambassador in Quito was the first to go on Tuesday, after Ecuador learned she had accused a national police commander of systematic corruption, including human trafficking.
Ecuador's Foreign Ministry announced the decision declare U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges "persona non grata" after she allegedly refused to explain a confidential cable declassified by the website WikiLeaks, a Sweden-based organization that allows anonymous sources to expose government misdeeds.
The U.S. government called the expulsion "unjustified," reacting in short shrift by ordering Ecuadorian ambassador Luis Gallegos to leave the country.
Left-leaning Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa in 2009 expelled two U.S. ambassadors over an issue related to the national police.
According to El Universo, Hodges was "sad" about the decision. The AP reports that bilateral talks scheduled for June will be cancelled.
The mutual expulsion can be characterized as another diplomatic mess resulting from "Cablegate," the nickname given to the release of hundreds of thousands of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks began hosting on Nov. 28, 2010.
Within days of the leak, Interpol issued a warrant for the arrest of controversial WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange on sexual misconduct charges. Assange, an Australian citizen living in the United Kingdom, has appealed a London judge's order that he be extradited to Sweden where the charges were filed.
Ecuador had at one time considered offering Assange residency, but Correa retracted this offer after stating that Assange had broken U.S. law by releasing the diplomatic cables.
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