Saudi Arabia has asked Canada’s ambassador to leave the country within 24 hours, just two days after Canada criticized the arrest of women’s rights and human rights activists in the Arab kingdom.
In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Canada of making “false” statements and interfering with Saudi internal affairs, and said ambassador Dennis Horak was no longer welcome in the country.
The ministry said it rejected Canada’s characterization of events in Saudi Arabia, and said it wouldn’t stand for outside intervention.
It added that Saudi Arabia would freeze all new trade and investment transactions with Canada, and would consider taking further action.
The move comes two days after Global Affairs Canada issued a statement criticizing the arrest of Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed dissident 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.
Amnesty International said the arrest of Samar Badawi and another prominent female activist, Nassima al-Sada, was part of a larger crackdown on human rights in Saudi Arabia.
“These brave 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.