Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador

Chrystia Freeland

Chrystia Freeland

Riyadh said the Canadian ambassador had 24 hours to leave the oil-rich Gulf state, and announced the "freezing of all new commercial and investment transactions" with the country. Riyadh is also freezing all new trade and investment deals with Canada.

In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Canada of making "false" statements and interfering with Saudi internal affairs, and said ambassador Dennis Horak was no longer welcome in the country.

Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. Canada has been pressing the Kingdom to release them immediately.

The Saudi foreign ministry later tweeted: "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia. will not accept interference in its internal affairs or imposed diktats from any country".

The move was in response to calls by Canada for the release of human rights activists arrested in a recent crackdown.

Badawi and another high-profile Saudi women's rights activist, Nassima al-Sadah, were arrested in the kingdom last week, sparking an global outcry.

PM Modi speaks to Imran Khan, shares his vision of peace
No date has yet been set for protests announced over the weekend by parties including the PML-N. "I fully agree with it". The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) came in second with 64 seats and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) won 43.

Samar is a vocal campaigner for blogger Raif Badawi, her brother who was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an worldwide outcry.

The Saudi statement said it confirmed its commitment to refrain from intervening in the internal matters of other countries, including Canada, and in return rejected any intervention in its domestic affairs and internal relations with its citizens.

In a statement released to the official Saudi Press Agency Sunday, the ministry "expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which was not based in any accurate or true information".

"Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs", the Saudis said. Canada also imports $2.6 billion in goods from Saudi Arabia, with the overwhelming majority being mineral products.

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

The stand-off pits a Saudi government that's slowly opening the door to women's rights against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an outspoken champion of women's advancement, who named a gender-balanced cabinet shortly after his 2015 election.

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