Saudi Arabia suspends trade with Canada, expels ambassador

Saudi Arabia suspends trade and investment with Canada after the Canadian foreign ministry urged Riyadh to release arrested activists.

Elad Benari,

Riyadh
Riyadh
iStock

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday night it had suspended new trade and investment with Canada after the Canadian foreign ministry urged Riyadh to release arrested civil rights activists, Reuters reported.

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

The statement declared that the foreign ministry “will freeze all new trade and investment transactions with Canada whilst retaining its rights to take further action.”

The Saudi ministry had been briefed that the Canadian foreign ministry and the Canadian embassy urged the Saudi authorities to “immediately release” the civil rights activists, the statement said.

The ministry said it rejected Canada’s characterization of events in Saudi Arabia and said it wouldn’t stand for outside intervention, according to Global News.

The Saudi move came two days after Global Affairs Canada issued a statement criticizing the arrest of Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi. Samar Badawi is the sister-in-law of Raif Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

Raif Badawi is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted of insulting Islam and breaking Saudi Arabia's technology laws with his liberal blog. He also was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, spread over 20 installments, and fined $266,000.

Saudi Arabia's supreme court in 2015 upheld the sentence against Badawi, who ran a website called Free Saudi Liberals and has been in custody since 2012.








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