Saudi Arabia expels Canadian Ambassador, slashes economic ties over civil rights activists
Saudi Arabia on Monday ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave within 24 hours after his nation criticized the recent arrest of women’s rights activists.
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.
“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 statement said.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry also said it would freeze “all new business” between the kingdom and Canada. Some 10 percent of Canadian crude oil imports come from Saudi Arabia.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Ambassador Dennis Horak was in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia said it would recall its ambassador to Canada as well.
The dispute appears centered around tweets by Canadian diplomats calling on the kingdom to “immediately release” women’s rights activists recently detained by the kingdom.
Last Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah, the latest two to be swept up in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists. More than a dozen women’s rights activists have been targeted since May.
On Friday, Canada said it was “gravely concerned” about the arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Badawi, the sister of jailed dissident blogger Raif Badawi.
“We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists,” Global Affairs Canada said on its Twitter feed.