Ousted ambassador warns US against 'blind obedience'

©Agence France-Presse

Former US ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in November 2019

Washington (AFP) - The US ambassador whose ouster was cited as evidence in President Donald Trump's impeachment has warned her country against the "blind obedience" to leaders she has witnessed overseas.

Marie Yovanovitch, who last year was removed early as US ambassador to Ukraine, confirmed in an op-ed piece Thursday in The Washington Post that she is retiring from the Foreign Service.

Without directly mentioning Trump, who was acquitted Wednesday by the Senate, Yovanovitch said it was "the American way to speak up about wrongdoing."

"I have seen dictatorships around the world, where blind obedience is the norm and truth-tellers are threatened with punishment or death," she wrote.

"We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act," she wrote.

The Canadian-born Yovanovitch, who has also served as US ambassador to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, said she acted in good conscience when she testified in November to a House of Representatives committee that was probing Trump.

"It has been shocking to experience the storm of criticism, lies and malicious conspiracies that have preceded and followed my public testimony, but I have no regrets," she wrote.

Trump disparaged Yovanovitch in a telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump allies discussed how they were watching her movements in Kiev.

The Trump camp had blamed Yovanovitch for not pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Trump later withheld congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine, triggering his impeachment.