Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, recalls envoy

Aug 06, 2018, 06:55
Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, recalls envoy

Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada's ambassador in Riyadh over what officials are calling "an explicit and overt interference in the internal affairs" of the kingdom, state media say.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday, recalling its ambassador in Canada for consultation, and declared the Ambassador of Canada persona non-grata, giving him 24 hours to leave.

The severing of ties was made Canadian embassy in Riyadh said it was "gravely concerned" over a spike of arrests of human rights campaigners in the Saudi including gender rights activist Samar Badawi.

Saudi authorities last week arrested two prominent women rights activists, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Saadah, and held them incommunicado, Saudi human rights groups said.

The arrests are at odds with the progressive image the government has projected this year under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

On Friday, Canada called on Riyadh to "immediately release" civil and human rights activists recently arrested by the Saudi Arabian authorities, including Samar Badawi, an internationally recognized human rights defender.

Amnesty International Canada secretary general Alex Neve said what has happened is a "clear indication that Saudi Arabia remains determined to rebuff and ignore any efforts to improve and address human rights concerns in the country".

"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.

His wife and three children live in Quebec and became Canadian citizens last month.

Criticism of the deal angered the Saudis, who said publicly that the contract was meant to be a gift to cement friendship between the two countries and noted Riyadh could easily have awarded it to manufacturers elsewhere in the world. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Sweden and Stockholm cancelled a defence agreement with the Saudis. Ms. Wallstrom had also criticized the 1,000-lash sentence for Mr. Badawi as "medieval".

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

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

"This negative and surprising position from Canada is totally false" and that the arrests were done by the competent authority, the Public Prosecutor's Office, in accordance with the law, the statement said.

In April, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his "serious concern" over the continued jailing of Badawi to Saudi King Salman.

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