Saudi expels Canadian envoy, recalls its own over 'interference'

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Saudi expels Canadian envoy, recalls its own over 'interference'

Saudi Arabia said Sunday it is ordering Canada's ambassador to leave the country and freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada in a spat over human rights.

In public statements Sunday, Riyadh gave Canadian ambassador Dennis Horak 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its own envoy.

The ministry said it rejected Canada's characterization of events in Saudi Arabia, and said it wouldn't stand for outside intervention.

"The [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] reserves its right to take further action", the country's foreign ministry said in a statement posted in a series of tweets.

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs", it said.

"Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi".

Among those arrested was Saudi-American women's rights campaigner Samar Badawi. Many others are banned from traveling outside the kingdom.

Those rounded up in recent days include Samar Badawi, who is known for having challenged the kingdom's male guardianship rules and is the sister of one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent detainees, liberal blogger Raif Badawi.

But the 32-year-old has simultaneously pursued a hawkish foreign policy - including leading a blockade of neighbouring Qatar and a bombing campaign against Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen - while cracking down on dissent at home.

#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.

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.

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

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