Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador over 'interference'

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador over 'interference'

The website also says Canada was "seeking to diversify its relations with the Saudi Kingdom" in 2016, as the two countries' bilateral relations are based on a shared interest of peace and security, including energy security, humanitarian affairs and counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East.

"The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is in contravention of the most basic global norms and all the charters governing relations between States", the Saudi foreign ministry said on Twitter.

The Saudi ambassador to Canada has been recalled to the peninsula for "consultation". "It is quite unfortunate to see the phrase "immediate release" in the Canadian statement, which is a reprehensible and unacceptable use of language between sovereign states".

The Saudi foreign ministry later tweeted: "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia. will not accept interference in its internal affairs or imposed diktats from any country".

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.

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"These courageous 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.

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

"The Canadian position is an attack on Saudi Arabia that requires a firm stance towards it". She is a Canadian citizen whose brother Raif Badawi, a blogger who was critical of the Saudi government, was already in jail in the kingdom.

So far this year, Canada has exported C$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) in merchandise goods to Saudi Arabia and imported C$2 billion in imports, leaving it with a cumulative year-to-date trade deficit with the kingdom of about C$640 million, according to Statistics Canada data.

Amnesty International Canada secretary general Alex Neve said what has happened is a "clear indication that Saudi Arabia remains determined to rebuff and ignore any efforts to improve and address human rights concerns in the country". "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". Canada also imports $2.6 billion in goods from Saudi Arabia, with the overwhelming majority being mineral products.

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