Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada's ambassador and frozen new trade deals with this country in a growing dispute over the Canadian government's criticism of human-rights violations in the Islamic kingdom.

The Saudis said they will "put on hold all new business and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry tweeted that it considers the Canadian ambassador persona non grata and has ordered him to leave within 24 hours.

"The kingdom announces that it is recalling its ambassador to Canada for consultation".

Freeland said in a tweet August 2 that she was "very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia", and that "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".

The ministry considers the Canadian statements as a blatant interference in the Kingdom's internal affairs that violates simple worldwide norms that governs relations between countries.

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

"Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi".

The arrests come weeks after more than a dozen women's right campaigners were detained and accused of undermining national security and collaborating with enemies of the state.

Freeland said on social media last Thursday that she was "alarmed" to hear of Samar Badawi's arrest.

In an email to The Canadian Press Sunday night a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a brief response to the Saudi complaint.

"The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia", the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted. Samar Badawi is the sister-in-law of Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen. Canada also imports $2.6 billion in goods from Saudi Arabia, with the overwhelming majority being mineral products.

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.

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".

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