Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador on Sunday and froze all new trade and investment deals with the country after the Canadian foreign ministry called on Riyadh to free jailed civil rights activists.
“Canada and all other nations need to know that they can’t claim to be more concerned than the Kingdom over its own citizens,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state-run media.
Riyadh said it would give Canada’s ambassador 24 hours to leave the country and that it would also withdraw its envoy to Ottawa.
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 currently serving out a prison sentence.
“Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia,” Freeland wrote on Twitter. “Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.”
Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) August 2, 2018
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 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 statement reads.