Former Ecuador president Rafael Correa said Wednesday that an arrest warrant issued by a court in his homeland over the kidnapping of an opponent was part of a "plot" by the government against him.
"There is a whole roadmap, there is a whole plot," Correa told AFP in an interview in Brussels where he is now based, adding that current Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno "is behind this."
He said he doubted Interpol, the international police organization, or Belgium would accept the arrest warrant.
"Interpol takes its time, analyses the case and, if it is political, rejects it. We have the deep conviction that it is going to throw this away, because there is nothing more political than that," said Correa. "But supposing it passes the red alert, the Belgian authorities will never process such nonsense."
Correa questioned the motivation for the case, after he and Moreno, his former ally, struggled for control of their deeply divided leftist ruling Country Alliance party.
Asked who was behind the plot he described, Correa said: "Without a doubt the government. The government announced it in November, met Balda in secret on April 20... with his lawyers as well." On Moreno, his former ally, Correa added: "He is behind this. But that's obvious. He's pushing it. I insist, he met with Balda... He is behind all this, the judicialization of politics."
"They link me to a case without any evidence, based on the testimony of a policeman who spent seven hours the day before with the prosecutor learning his lesson, saying that the president has called him to ask him to kidnap Balda," Correa added.
During his term, Correa boosted social spending, curbed oil firms' profits and suspended some debt payments that he considered illegitimate. Since his election last year, Moreno has steadily dismantled Correa's leftist legacy, making overtures to the business community and the political right.
Last month, a judge ordered Correa to appear in court every two weeks to assist the investigation. The first appearance was ordered for Monday, when Correa presented himself to the Ecuadoran consulate in Brussels to "comply with the precautionary measure imposed by the illegal and illegitimate link to the so-called Balda Case," he said on Twitter.
Correa said he and his lawyers "haven't ruled out" the possibility of applying for political asylum in Belgium. But he ruled out returning to Ecuador under his own steam. "This would be almost suicide in the current conditions, but if I were single I would do it," he said, but then adding: "Why do I have to sacrifice my family again?"
Social and political leaders from across Latin America have expressed their support for Ecuador’s former president, including former Brazilian President former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in a message posted Tuesday on his Twitter account: "I learned that you too... are a victim of the judicialization of politics, where some judges want to disqualify us as political leaders. They are taking from our people the right to decide on the fate of our countries..."
Former Peruvian President Ollanta Humala also expressed his "solidarity to Lula and MashiRafael" in a Tuesday night's tweet, saying that "history did not change," repeating the imprisonment of leftist leaders of the region. The former president, a former military official who self-defines as leftist and nationalist, is currently in preventive detention as he is being investigated over corruption charges for allegedly receiving bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht during his electoral campaign.