Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Saudi Arabia orders Canadian envoy to leave over criticism

Saudi Arabia orders Canadian envoy to leave over criticism

"Using the phrase (immediately release) in the Canadian statement is very unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between States", the Saudi ministry said on Twitter.

It also gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its own ambassador to Canada, the statement by the Saudi foreign ministry said. "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 is also halting all new investment and trade transactions with Canada, the Saudi Press Agency statement added.

It is understood to come in response to Canada's statement of concern over the arrests of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

The move came after Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland urged Saudi authorities to release from prison human rights activist Samar Badawi, the sister of Saudi activist and writer Raif Badawi, who is now serving out a prison sentence.

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. Ms. Badawi is one of at least 18 civil-rights activists arrested since May, four of whom have been temporarily released, activists say.

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There have also been reports that North Korea is operating a uranium enrichment facility in secret. The U.S., he added , has "to know what they have before talking about caps and arms control".

Tanks, armored vehicles and parts and motor vehicles accounted for about 45 percent of Canada's 2016 exports to the kingdom, while crude oil and copper ores comprised about 98 percent of imports, according to a government report.

"The Saudi ministry of foreign affairs has expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which was not based in any accurate or true information. 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".

Jackie Hansen, a gender rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada, said last Thursday that the circumstances of the arrests were still unclear and there was no news of any charges.

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.

Samar Badawi is a prominent women's rights advocate, and her brother Raif has been in a Saudi jail since 2012 for his criticism of the regime and was lashed 50 times in 2015.

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