Saudi expels Canadian envoy, recalls its own over ‘interference’

06 August, 2018, 10:40 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Saudi Arabia

In a statement issued by the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry, Riyadh slams as "totally false" allegations by the Canadian authorities that recent arrests of several civil society activists were unwarranted.

"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the kingdom persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours". They called on Saudi authorities to "immediately release" the detainees.

The move came after Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland urged Saudi authorities to release from prison human rights activist Samar Badawi, the sister of Saudi activist and writer Raif Badawi, who is now serving out a prison sentence.

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.

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs".

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.


Representatives for Canada's foreign department didn't respond to a request for comment. Bilateral trade between the two nations reached $3 billion in 2016, with tanks and fighting vehicles among the top Canadian exports to the kingdom, according to government statistics. Ms. Badawi is one of at least 18 civil-rights activists arrested since May, four of whom have been temporarily released, activists say.

The decision has been reported by Saudi Arabia's official Saudi Press Agency.

The move follows vigorous calls by Canada for the immediate release of activists that have been detained.

Earlier, the Canadian foreign ministry and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh expressed concerns over the arrests of human rights activists, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, in a new wave of detentions.

The Saudi foreign ministry voiced anger over the Canadian statement.

"The persons referred to were lawfully detained by the Public Prosecution for committing crimes punishable by applicable law, which also guaranteed the detainees' rights and provided them with due process during the investigation and trial", the statement said.

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