BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Colombia on Tuesday granted political asylum to former Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez, who has said he faces treason charges in his homeland, a Colombian official said Tuesday.

Gutierrez, ousted from office in April amid street protests and demonstrations, came to Bogota on Sept. 21 from the Peruvian capital of Lima, where he had been living in exile.

Colombia is studying requests to grant asylum to Gutierrez’s brother, a former Ecuadorean military general and a businessman close to Gutierrez, a foreign ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity, in accordance with ministry policy.

Patricio Zuquilanda, Ecuador’s former foreign minister and a confidant of Gutierrez, praised the decision.

“This is recognition by the Colombian government and its people of the institution of asylum,” said Zuquilanda, who is with Gutierrez in Bogota. He added that Gutierrez wanted to return to Ecuador as soon as possible.

Gutierrez was forced from office by Congress on April 20, five days after he disbanded the country’s Supreme Court and declared a state of emergency. Congress appointed Alfredo Palacio, the elected vice president, to finish Gutierrez’s four-year term, which ends in January 2007.

Last month, Gutierrez denounced Palacio as an “usurper” whose government had committed “monumental errors” in domestic and foreign policy.


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