Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade 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.

"The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia", the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted. Saudi Arabia is one of Canada's biggest export markets in the Gulf region and more than 15,000 Saudi students attend Canadian schools and universities.

The dispute appears centered around a tweet by Global Affairs Canada calling on the kingdom to "immediately release" women's rights activists recently detained by the kingdom.

Badawi was arrested along with fellow activist Nassima al-Sadah last week. "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".

Saudi Arabia announced Monday it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and had recalled its envoy while freezing business ties with Ottawa, over what it called "interference" in its internal affairs.

Saudi Arabia took this firm stance following Canada's statement about "civil society activists" that was negative and baseless.

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The Canadian embassy in Riyadh had said it was "gravely concerned" about a new wave of detentions of human-rights campaigners in the kingdom, including Samar Badawi, an award-winning gender rights activist.

Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar has been granted asylum by Canada, where she is raising their three children now aged 14, 13 and 10 as a single mother.

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. Ms. Wallstrom had also criticized the 1,000-lash sentence for Mr. Badawi as "medieval".

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

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.

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