Former Ecuador leader Rafael Correa, who is wanted in his homeland on suspicion of kidnapping, has requested political asylum in Belgium, two well-placed sources told AFP.

Correa has lived near Brussels with his family since 2017, and requested asylum on June 25 this year. The request has been under consideration since August by Belgium's CGRA refugee agency, one source said.

A left-wing former economist, Correa was president of his Andean nation between 2007 and 2017. On Wednesday, an Ecuadoran judge demanded he return home to face charges related to the 2012 kidnapping of an opponent.

Correa insists he is innocent, and on Thursday in an interview with AFP he accused the new authorities in his homeland of "political persecution," and his successor Lenin Moreno of a plot against him.

Fearing that he would not be given a fair trial if he return to Ecuador, Correa pre-empted the issuance of an arrest warrant against him by asking for asylum in Belgium, AFP has learned from two sources.

One of the sources told AFP that Correa had attended an asylum hearing in late summer. The 55-year-old politician would neither confirm nor deny this.

A spokesman for CGRA, Damien Dermaux, said the agency would not comment on individual cases, but said that in Belgium an asylum request is decided on average in about three months, but could take longer.

Correa has lived in Belgium, where his wife has citizenship and where he had studied before his political career, since July 2017.

He is accused of ordering the 2012 kidnapping in the Colombian capital Bogota of exiled former lawmaker Fernando Balda, who was forced into a car by a gang intending to return him to Ecuador.

Colombian police intervened to save him.