Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador and recalls its envoy over 'interference'

Geneva Stokes
August 6, 2018

The kingdom recalled its ambassador to Ottawa and ordered the Canadian envoy to Riyadh to leave within 24 hours, according to a foreign ministry statement cited by the Saudi Press Agency.

Riyadh also suspended new trade and investment with Canada.

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

"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", Freeland tweeted.

The Saudi foreign ministry said, "It is very unfortunate that the words "immediate release" appeared in the Canadian statement... it is unacceptable in relations between countries".

"It's pathetic that rather than respect the basic rights of its citizens and end its wide scale persecution of independent voices, it's punishing even friendly states who give it helpful advice", Whitson told DW.

Last week, the Canadian government publicly took the Saudis to task after the kingdom arrested two women's-rights activists, the latest to be swept up in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists. The Canadian government did not immediately comment Sunday night in response to the Saudi action.

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

#Statement | We have been briefed by what the #Canadian foreign minister and the Canadian embassy to the #Kingdom released on what they named "civil society rights activists", and we affirm that this negative and surprising attitude is an incorrect claim.

"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 wrote on Twitter.

"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".

In 2014, the Canadian unit of USA weapons maker General Dynamics Corp won a contract worth up to $13 billion to build light-armored vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said at the time was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history.

It isn't immediately clear what new business could be affected between the two countries.

"The persons referred to were lawfully detained by the Public Prosecution for committing crimes punishable by applicable law, which also guaranteed the detainees' rights and provided them with due process during the investigation and trial", the statement said.

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