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Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, freezes new trade deals

06 August, 2018, 10:47 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Saudi Arabia freezes all trade investment in Canada - Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Arabia gave the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its own envoy to Canada after the North-American country urged Riyadh to release arrested civil rights activists.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia... will not accept interference in its internal affairs or imposed diktats from any country", the foreign ministry tweeted.

The Saudi foreign ministry cited remarks last week by Freeland and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh, criticizing Saudi Arabia's arrests of women's rights activists including Samar Badawi.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #human rights activists", the embassy tweeted on Friday.

Last Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah, the latest two to be swept up in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists.

The Saudi foreign ministry slammed the Canadian statement, signalling its growing irritation over Western criticism of the kingdom's poor human rights record.

Among those arrested was Saudi-American women's rights campaigner Samar Badawi.

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Samar is a vocal campaigner for blogger Raif Badawi, her brother who was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an global outcry.

It added that Saudi Arabia would freeze all new trade and investment transactions with Canada, and would consider taking further action.

Riyadh said Canada's statement about "civil society activists" was negative and unfair to the truth. Samar Badawi is the sister-in-law of Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

The move follows vigorous calls by Canada for the immediate release of activists that have been detained.

And it says any other attempt to "interfere with our internal affairs" by Canada will mean Saudi Arabia will be allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs.

It isn't immediately clear what new business could be affected between the two countries. "The legitimate rights (of those arrested) have not been denied and they were provided with all guarantees during the investigation and trial stages", the statement said.

"We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", said Marie-Pier Baril.

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