Saudi Arabia expels Canadian envoy, freezes new trade deals

Ensaf Haidar wife of the jailed Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi shows a portrait of her husband as he is awarded the Sakharov Prize in Strasbourg France. Saudi Arabia has given Canada's ambassador 24 hou

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday, recalling its ambassador in Canada for consultation, and declared the Ambassador of Canada persona non-grata, giving him 24 hours to leave.

The ministry also announced "the freezing of all new trade and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".

#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. The Canadian position is an attack on Saudi Arabia that requires a firm stance towards it.

On Friday, Canada called on Riyadh to "immediately release" civil and human rights activists recently arrested by the Saudi Arabian authorities, including Samar Badawi, an internationally recognized human rights defender.

Samar Badawi, sister of detained rights activist Raif Badawi and fellow campaigner Nassima al-Saddah were arrested last week in what HRW called "an unprecedented government crackdown on the women's rights movement".

In its long history, Saudi Arabia has not and will not accept intervention in its internal affairs or impose dictates on it from any country.

Global Affairs Canada told The Canadian Press on Sunday night it was aware of the issue but offered no immediate comment.

"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 said.

"Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia", Freeland wrote on Twitter.

Badawi is a recipient of the 2012 International Women of Courage Award by the US State Department, in recognition of her campaigning for women suffrage and her challenging of the male guardianship system in the Gulf kingdom.

"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", Freeland tweeted.

An English version of the Saudi government's statement said Ms. Freeland and the Canadian government are wrong to criticize the kingdom.

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