Saudi Arabia to freeze new trade with Canada, recalls ambassador

  • Saudi Arabia to freeze new trade with Canada, recalls ambassador

Saudi Arabia to freeze new trade with Canada, recalls ambassador

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday that it is recalling its ambassador in Canada for consultation and simultaneously declared the Ambassador of Canada persona non-grata, giving him 24 hours to leave.

It also noted that the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh had 24 hours to leave and that it was "freezing of all new commercial and investment transactions" with Ottawa.

And it says any other attempt to "interfere with our internal affairs" by Canada will mean Saudi Arabia will be allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs. The Canadian position is an attack on Saudi Arabia that requires a firm stance towards it.

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 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. Samar Badawi is the sister-in-law of Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

The Trudeau government has taken a lot of criticism for issuing export permits for a deal to sell billions of dollars of weaponized armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a country that ranks among the "worst of the worst" on human rights by US watchdog Freedom House. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Sweden and Stockholm cancelled a defence agreement with the Saudis.

The Saudi foreign ministry voiced anger over the Canadian statement.

Representatives for Canada's foreign department didn't respond to a request for comment.

"It is very unfortunate that the words "immediate release" appeared in the Canadian statement ... it is unacceptable in relations between countries", the ministry said.