Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Monday criticised Canada's calls to free arrested civil society activists as a position built on "misleading" information, and said his country would not tolerate any interference in its own affairs.
"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not interfere in the internal affairs of other states and it won't accept any attempt to interfere in our internal affairs," Jubeir said in remarks on his Twitter account. "We deal with that with all firmness."
On Monday, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country.
The kingdom said it is also suspending educational exchange programmes with Canada and moving Saudi scholarship recipients there to other countries.
Describing Canada's position was puzzling, al-Jubeir said that those held in Saudi Arabia were "subject to Saudi legal laws that guarantees their rights".
Shortly after the Saudi decision was announced, a Canadian foreign ministry spokeswoman said her country is "seriously concerned" about Saudi Arabia's freeze of new trade between the countries, but standing its ground on human rights comments which set off a diplomatic row,
"Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world," said Marie-Pier Baril, adding that Canada was "seeking greater clarity" from the Saudi government.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online