Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

Leroy Wright
August 6, 2018

"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours", Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia is also halting all new investment and trade transactions with Canada, the Saudi Press Agency statement added.

"The Ministry also affirmed that the Canadian position is an explicit and transparent interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", the ministry said.

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.

The severing of ties was made Canadian embassy in Riyadh said it was "gravely concerned" over a spike of arrests of human rights campaigners in the Saudi including gender rights activist Samar Badawi.

The dispute appears to be over a tweet on Friday from Global Affairs Canada calling for Saudi Arabia to "immediately release" recently arrested activists and others.

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"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", said the statement.

Riyadh's expulsion of the Canadian ambassador was meant to send a strong message to other critical Western governments, observers say. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Sweden and Stockholm cancelled a defence agreement with the Saudis.

Canadian foreign ministry officials were not available for an immediate comment on Sunday.

The Saudi ambassador to Canada has been recalled to the peninsula for "consultation".

In its statement on Sunday, the Saudi foreign ministry suggested that the Canadian foreign ministry's demand was tantamount to interference in Riyadh's affairs and warned that any further action would be seen as a license to meddle in Canadian affairs.

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