Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

Charlene Craig
August 6, 2018

And the ministry says Saudi Arabia is recalling its ambassador to Canada.

It also gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its own ambassador to Canada, the statement by the Saudi foreign ministry said. Freeland called on Saudi Arabia to release both.

Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador on Sunday and froze all new trade and investment deals with the country after the Canadian foreign ministry called on Riyadh to free jailed civil rights activists.

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On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Twitter she was "very alarmed" by the arrest of civil rights activist Samar Badawi, Raif's sister.

Saudi Arabia halted new trade and investment dealings with Canada and suspended diplomatic ties in a dramatic escalation of a dispute over the kingdom's arrest of a women's rights activist. "It is quite unfortunate to see the phrase "immediate release" in the Canadian statement, which is a reprehensible and unacceptable use of language between sovereign states".

"The Canadian position is an open and transparent interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and contrary to the most basic global norms and all the charters governing relations between countries".

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It said it will not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs and considers the Canadian position "an attack" requiring a firm stance to deter "attempts to undermine the sovereignty" of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is one of Canada's biggest export markets in the Gulf region and more than 15,000 Saudi students attend Canadian schools and universities.

The UN has also voiced concern over the widening clampdown on opposition in Saudi Arabia, its human rights office (OHCHR) calling the spate of arrests that has been ongoing since spring "apparently arbitrary detentions". The Canadian government did not immediately comment Sunday night in response to the Saudi action. "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi". She is a Canadian citizen whose brother Raif Badawi, a blogger who was critical of the Saudi government, was already in jail in the kingdom.

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The arrests were in line with Saudi laws, and those detained have been provided with due process during investigation and trial, according to the foreign ministry statement.

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