Saudi Arabia Kicks Out Canadian Ambassador For Human Rights Criticism

Saudi Arabia freezes all trade investment in Canada - Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Arabia severs ties with Canada over Ottawa 'interference'

The Kingdom said it was also putting a hold on all new business and investment from Canada, and hinted at further diplomatic action.

Samar is a vocal campaigner for blogger Raif Badawi, her brother who was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an global outcry.

Despite a campaign to modernize the country and expand freedoms to women, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has cracked down on activists since he was appointed past year.

The move followed statements made by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh last week, that were seen as critical of Saudi Arabia's authorities.

Saudi Arabia on Monday ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the ultraconservative kingdom within 24 hours after his nation criticized the recent arrest of women's rights activists.

The overwhelming majority of its exports to Saudi Arabia are in vehicles and equipment, which included a controversial 15 billion Canadian dollar deal to sell more than 900 light armored vehicles to the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia suspended diplomatic ties and new trade dealings with Canada in response to Canada's call for the release of women's rights activists - a dramatic escalation that highlights the kingdom's increasingly assertive foreign policy under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It continued that use of the phrase "immediate release" is both "reprehensible and unacceptable", and noted that "any further step from the Canadian side...will be considered as acknowledgement of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs".

The kingdom gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country, in an abrupt rupture of relations over what it slammed as "interference" in its internal affairs.

The human rights group's Middle East research director described the arrests as part of a larger crackdown on human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then First lady Michelle Obama congratulate Samar Badawi of Saudi Arabia during the State Department's 2012 International Women of Courage Award winners ceremony in Washington March 8, 2012.

A number of prominent journalists, religious leaders and activists have been arrested despite reforms introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to open up society and the economy to worldwide investors as it reduces its reliance on oil. She is a Canadian citizen whose brother Raif Badawi, a blogger who was critical of the government, was already in jail in the kingdom.

In 2014, the Canadian unit of USA weapons maker General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) won a contract worth up to $13 billion to build light-armored vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said at the time was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history.

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.

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