Ecuador — A judge released former President Lucio Gutierrez from prison Friday, ruling he broke no law by accusing his successor of conspiring to oust him from power.
Superior Court President Fernando Casares dismissed charges of threatening national security against Gutierrez, his brother and his top adviser. If convicted, they could have been sentenced to up to eight years in prison.
The three men were arrested Oct. 14 after Gutierrez renounced political asylum in Colombia and flew home, insisting he remained Ecuador's rightful leader. He had accused President Alfredo Palacio of illegally usurping power.
Casares said Gutierrez broke no law by making the allegations, which "by themselves are not criminal," and did not cause "military or civilian uprisings, armed conflicts (or) social or political instability."
Congress voted Gutierrez out of office April 20 and appointed Palacio, the elected vice president, to finish his term after Gutierrez disbanded the Supreme Court and declared a state of emergency, sparking street protests.