Ambassador Expelled, Trade Frozen, Scholarships Cancelled: Saudi Response To Canada’s Charge Of Rights’ Violation

Ambassador Expelled, Trade Frozen, Scholarships Cancelled: Saudi Response To Canada’s Charge Of Rights’ ViolationSaudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia has taken a very strong exception of Canada’s criticism of the former’s treatment of jailed civil-rights activists, unexpectedly expelling the Canadian ambassador from the country while also recalling its own envoy to Canada.

As reported by the Free Press Journal, Saudi Arabia has accused Canada of “blatant interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs” in response to Canada’s concerns over an ongoing crackdown on civil rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

The statement released by the Saudi Foreign Ministry says the the phrase “immediate release” was unacceptable saying that such language cannot be tolerated in a dialogue between two sovereign nations.

Saudi authorities have also reportedly suspended scholarships for Saudi students in Canadian universities, colleges and schools and said that the students will be relocated to other places.

It has also been reported that Saudia, the Saudi national carrier, will suspend all flights to Canada from 13 August.

Canadian authorities meanwhile are trying to contact Saudi authorities to diffuse the crisis.

“We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” a spokeswoman for the Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

Freeland had earlier tweeted in support of Samar Badawi, a Saudi civil rights activist.

The row might also affect a $15 billion arms contract between the two countries, with Canada to supply Saudi Arabia with machine-gun equipped combat vehicles.