Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Saudi expels Canadian envoy, recalls its envoy over 'interference'

Saudi expels Canadian envoy, recalls its envoy over 'interference'

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.

The website also says Canada was "seeking to diversify its relations with the Saudi Kingdom" in 2016, as the two countries' bilateral relations are based on a shared interest of peace and security, including energy security, humanitarian affairs and counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the ultraconservative kingdom after criticism of its arrests of activists.

Earlier, the Canadian foreign ministry and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh expressed concerns over the arrests of human rights activists, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, in a new wave of detentions.

The Saudi ambassador to Canada has been recalled to the peninsula for "consultation".

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists", the Canadian embassy tweeted on Friday. The Canadian government did not immediately comment Sunday night in response to the Saudi action.

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Those rounded up in recent days include Samar Badawi, who is known for having challenged the kingdom's male guardianship rules and is the sister of one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent detainees, liberal blogger Raif Badawi. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, is now living in Canada.

In 2014, the Canadian unit of U.S. weapons maker General Dynamics won a contract worth as much as $13bn to build light-armoured vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said at the time was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history. The ministry denounces Canada's stance as "explicit interference in the internal affairs" of the kingdom that runs "contrary to the most basic global norms and charters that govern relations between countries".

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.

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

An English version of the Saudi government's statement said Ms. Freeland and the Canadian government are wrong to criticize the kingdom.

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