Saudi Arabia orders Canadian envoy to leave over criticism

Chrystia Freeland

The ministry considers the Canadian statements as a blatant interference in the Kingdom's internal affairs that violates simple global norms that governs relations between countries.

According to an archived government website, Saudi Arabia is now Canada's second largest export market in the region, receiving $1.4 billion in Canadian goods in 2017.

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

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists", the Canadian tweet said.

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests of women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi.

Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar has been granted asylum by Canada, where she is raising their three children now aged 14, 13 and 10 as a single mother.

"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 Saudis said. The ministry denounces Canada's stance as "explicit interference in the internal affairs" of the kingdom that runs "contrary to the most basic worldwide norms and charters that govern relations between countries".

Tanks, armored vehicles and parts and motor vehicles accounted for about 45 percent of Canada's 2016 exports to the kingdom, while crude oil and copper ores comprised about 98 percent of imports, according to a government report. "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi".

"These fearless women represented the last vestiges of the human rights community in the country, and now they too have been detained", Amnesty International's Middle East research director Lynn Maalouf said in a statement. Canada also imports $2.6 billion in goods from Saudi Arabia, with the overwhelming majority being mineral products.

Mr. Allam said what's happened reminds him of a 2015 diplomatic dispute between Sweden and Saudi Arabia. The row followed an incident where the Saudis had blocked Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom from speaking about human rights at an Arab leaders' summit.

The Saudi ambassador to Canada has been recalled to the peninsula for "consultation".

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

The Saudi foreign ministry voiced anger over the Canadian statement.

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