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Saudi expels Canadian envoy, recalls its own over 'interference'

AFP , Monday 6 Aug 2018
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir
File photo: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir attends an interview with Reuters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 16, 2017. (Reuters photo)
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Saudi Arabia said Monday it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and had recalled its envoy while freezing all new trade, in protest at Ottawa's vigorous calls for the release of jailed activists.

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 move comes after Canada demanded the immediate release of human rights campaigners swept up in a new crackdown.

"The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted.

"The kingdom announces that it is recalling its ambassador to Canada for consultation. We consider the Canadian ambassador to the kingdom persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours."

The ministry also announced "the freezing of all new trade and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests of women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists," the foreign ministry tweeted on Friday.

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