Saudi Arabia to freeze new trade with Canada, recalls ambassador

Samar Badawi

Samar Badawi

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

Saudi Arabia has frozen all trade/investment developments with Canada.

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.

Last week, the Canadian government publicly took the Saudis to task after the kingdom arrested two women's-rights activists, the latest to be swept up in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists.

#Statement | We have been briefed by what the #Canadian foreign minister and the Canadian embassy to the #Kingdom released on what they named "civil society rights activists", and we affirm that this negative and surprising attitude is an incorrect claim. "We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists".

Ensaf Haidar, the Canadian wife of Raif Badawi, told CBC News on Sunday that she was taken by surprise by the news that Saudi Arabia is taking measures against Canada in retaliation for its support of jailed activists.

Ms Badawi had been calling for an end to Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.

The Globe and Mail reached Saudi ambassador Naif Bin Bandar al-Sudairi by telephone Sunday but he said he was out of the country and too busy to talk.

Saudi Arabia said it has expelled Canada's ambassador in the kingdom and recalled its own envoy from the North American country after the government in Ottawa expressed concern over recent arrests of civil-society and women's rights activists in the kingdom.

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

"Using the phrase "immediately release" in the Canadian statement is very unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states", the ministry tweeted.

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