Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador and recalls its envoy over 'interference'

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador and recalls its envoy over 'interference'

Saudi Arabia has asked Canada's ambassador to leave the country within 24 hours, just two days after Canada criticized the arrest of women's rights and human rights activists in the Arab kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry did not take well to the statement, suggesting Canada's use of "immediate release" was "unfortunate, reprehensible and unacceptable in relations between states". Many others are banned from traveling outside the kingdom.

It wasn't immediately clear if Ambassador Dennis Horak was in the kingdom.

"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.

"Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world". "Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to worldwide diplomacy".

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.

Freeland tweeted about the arrests on Thursday.

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 global outcry.

"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", she wrote on Twitter.

Most of those arrested campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the country's male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.

The diplomatic dispute with Canada may be part of that assertive foreign policy pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed under his father.

It isn't immediately clear what new business could be affected between the two countries.

Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia exceeded $4-billion previous year, a significant portion of it from a controversial multibillion-dollar deal to sell combat vehicles equipped with machine guns and cannons to the Saudis.

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