Saudi Arabia blacklists Canada after minister's tweets

Saudi Arabia blacklists Canada after minister's tweets

Saudi Arabia blacklists Canada after minister's tweets

In a series of tweets, the Saudi foreign ministry said it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its own envoy in Canada.

Saudi Arabia has ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the ultraconservative kingdom after criticism of its arrests of activists.

"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours", Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said on Twitter.

It is understood to come in response to Canada's statement of concern over the arrests of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #human rights activists", the embassy tweeted on Friday.

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia had also arrested women's rights activist Nassima al-Sadah, the Reuters news agency reports.

The Ministry in a statement said, "The Ministry also affirmed that the Canadian position is an explicit and transparent interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia". More than a dozen women's rights activists have been targeted since May. Negative impacts of the Saudi Arabian investment and trade embargo may be overshadowed by Canada's higher inflation and better than expected economic growth.

The arrests were in line with Saudi laws, and those detained have been provided with due process during investigation and trial, according to the foreign ministry statement. It must be noted that Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar lives in Canada itself and recently acquired the Canadian citizenship.

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The next day, the main Twitter account for Canada's Foreign Ministry said that "Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi" and called on Saudi authorities to "immediately release them".

Samar is the sister of Raif Badawi, a prominent human rights campaigner sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2014 on charges of insulting Islam.

"There isn't a strong bilateral trade relationship and poking the Trudeau government likely resonates with Saudi's hawkish regional allies".

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been praised for pushing through reforms in recent months, which include lifting the ban on women driving in the kingdom.

Observers say Riyadh's expulsion of the Canadian ambassador was meant to send a strong message to other critical Western governments.

Saudi investments in Canada include G3 Global Holdings Ltd., a joint venture between Bunge Ltd. and Saudi Agricultural & Livestock Investment Co., which purchased the former Canadian Wheat Board in 2015.

The move is the first since the two countries broke off diplomatic ties in 2016, after Iran allowed protestors to attack and burn the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

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