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Ecuador president accuses predecessor of planting spy camera

FILE - In this May 24, 2017 file photo, incoming President Lenin Moreno, right, raises his hand with outgoing President Rafael Correa, during the presidential swearing-in ceremony, in Quito, Ecuador. Moreno angrily denounced Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, what he says is the discovery in his office of a hidden video camera that allegedly could be monitored on his predecessor’s cellphone. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa, File)
September 15, 2017 - 3:28 PM

QUITO, Ecuador - Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno angrily denounced his predecessor on Friday for planting a hidden video camera in his office so that he could spy on him remotely.

"Shocked and furious," Moreno wrote in a message on Twitter to denounce the discovery of the device, which he said violated his privacy.

Later in a televised appearance from Guayaquil he said the camera had been monitored remotely by former President Rafael Correa on his cellphone. He did not explain or provide any evidence to back the accusation.

Correa, who moved to Europe after handing off power to his hand-picked successor in May, mocked the accusation on his Twitter account.

"Hidden camera run from my cellphone! If President Moreno proves this, then send me to prison. If not, then he should resign from the Presidency, not for being bad, but for being ridiculous. What a disgrace!"

Moreno said the existence of the camera was even more perplexing because every morning at 8 a.m. his security detail— which was never informed about the device — checks his office for bugs, meaning the device would've been activated remotely only after the daily scan was performed.

He said the camera was discovered by chance when someone in his office noticed that the wall in which it was hidden was heating up.

He called for an immediate investigation

Correa helped elect Moreno this year. But the former allies have since grown estranged over Moreno's less confrontational style and focus on corruption in the previous government, in which he served as vice-president.

As part of the deepening feud, Moreno withdrew all powers from Vice-President Jorge Glas, who is being investigated for bribe taking during Correa's decade-long rule.

Glas has accused Moreno of betraying Correa's legacy but the president's decision to break with his predecessor appears to be popular with Ecuadoreans, 84 per cent of whom said they approve of his performance in a recent opinion poll.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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