Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, recalls envoy

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, recalls envoy

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, recalls envoy

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.

"Using the phrase "immediately release" in the Canadian statement is very unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states", the ministry tweeted.

It also gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its own ambassador to Canada, the statement by the Saudi foreign ministry said.

"The Saudi ministry of foreign affairs has expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which was not based in any accurate or true information".

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".

Prince Mohammed, heir to the region's most powerful throne, has introduced a string of reforms such as lifting a decades-long ban on women drivers in a bid to overhaul the kingdom's austere image as it prepares for a post-oil era.

Ambassador Dennis Horak is also the Canadian representative to Yemen, Bahrain and Oman. Freeland called for Badawi's "immediate" release and said Canada would continue to advocate for the release of both siblings. "Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to global diplomacy".

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

Freeland tweeted about the arrests on Thursday.

"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", she wrote on Twitter.

Amnesty International has said Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, was recently detained along with Nassima al-Sada, another prominent female activist.

The diplomatic dispute with Canada may be part of that assertive foreign policy pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed under his father.

Criticism of the deal angered the Saudis, who said publicly that the contract was meant to be a gift to cement friendship between the two countries and noted Riyadh could easily have awarded it to manufacturers elsewhere in the world.

The majority of Canada's exports to the Middle Eastern nation are vehicles, machinery and mineral products.

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