Saudi Arabia expels Canada's ambassador after Ottawa criticizes activist arrests
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.
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.
Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.
— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018
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.
Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) August 2, 2018
Samar’s brother Raif was arrested in 2012 and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for criticizing clerics.
He received 50 lashes in January 2015 during a public flogging but is not believed to have received any more corporal punishment since then.