KSA: Riyadh freezes new trade, business with Ottawa and expels Canadian envoy over interference

Saudi Arabia announced Sunday suspensions of all trade and business deals with Canada over what it termed “interference into its internal affairs” following a call by the Canadian foreign ministry to free all civil rights activists languishing in prison in the kingdom.
The Saudi foreign ministry also gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the kingdom. It also recalled its ambassador in Montreal, state-run news SPA reported.
The kingdom also claimed it retained its right to take further action.
The strong rhetoric came after Saudi authorities said they were called on by the Canadian foreign ministry and the Canadian embassy to “immediately release” civil rights activists including the in-law of dual Canadian and Saudi citizen.
“Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists,” Global Affairs Canada said on its Twitter feed on Friday.
Samar Badawi is sister of Saudi blogger jailed dissident blogger Raif Badawi whose wife Ensaf Haidar recently obtained the Canadian citizenship.
Saudi authorities arrested last week Samar and Nassima al-Sadah in a new wave of clampdown on activists including journalists and clerics. Dozens of women activists who protested for the abolition on a ban on women’s rights to drive and male guardianship system have been squatting in prison for several months.
Saudi authorities protested against the Canadian foreign ministry’s Tweeter post.
“The Canadian position is an attack on Saudi Arabia that requires a firm stance towards it. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expresses its absolute and categorical rejection of the position of the Canadian government,” the foreign ministry statement said.
“The legitimate rights (of those arrested) have not been denied and they were provided with all guarantees during the investigation and trial stages,”
The kingdom also threatened to interfere in Canadian affairs should the Ottawa repeat it again.
“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 ministry said.
In 2014, the Canadian unit of US weapons maker General Dynamics Corp. won a contract worth up to $13 billion to build light-armored vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said at the time was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history, Reuters reports.

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