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Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian envoy after criticism of activist arrests

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian envoy after criticism of activist arrests

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

The ministry said it rejected Canada's characterization of events in Saudi Arabia, and said it wouldn't stand for outside intervention.

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.

"It is quite unfortunate to see the phrase "immediate release" in the Canadian statement, which is a reprehensible and unacceptable use of language between sovereign states".

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.

The Saudi move on Monday came after the Canadian embassy in Riyadh said Canada was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests of human-rights campaigners in the kingdom, including Ms. Badawi.

Riyadh said Canada's statement about "civil society activists" was negative and unfair to the truth. Many others are banned from traveling outside the kingdom.

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.

Mr. Allam said the Saudi-Canadian relationship has been strained in recent years because of a public debate over whether to sell billions of dollars of armoured vehicles to Riyadh and the kingdom's continued imprisonment of Mr. Badawi, whose wife and children now live in Canada.

An English version of the Saudi government's statement said Ms. Freeland and the Canadian government are wrong to criticize the kingdom.

"There isn't a strong bilateral trade relationship and poking the Trudeau government likely resonates with Saudi's hawkish regional allies".

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