Saudi Arabia expels Canadian envoy, freezes new trade deals

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The Saudis said they will "put on hold all new business and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry fired back in a strongly-worded statement released to the official Saudi Press Agency on Monday, condemning Canada's meddling in its domestic affairs.

The severing of ties was made Canadian embassy in Riyadh said it was "gravely concerned" over a spike of arrests of human rights campaigners in the Saudi including gender rights activist Samar Badawi.

Tensions are running high between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Canada.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists", the Canadian tweet said.

"It's pathetic that rather than respect the basic rights of its citizens and end its wide scale persecution of independent voices, it's punishing even friendly states who give it helpful advice", Whitson told DW.

Samar Badawi and another activist Nassima al Sadah, who had campaigned for women's right to drive, were arrested last month.

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

"We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", Marie-Pier Baril, a spokeswoman for Freeland, said in an email.

"The Ministry also affirmed that the Canadian position is an explicit and transparent interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", the ministry said. "Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialog is critical to global diplomacy".

In 2014, Saudi Arabia agreed to buy $13bn in light-armored vehicles, fitted with machine guns and cannons, from the Canadian unit of United States defence company General Dynamics.

Human Rights Watch has called the arrests "an unrelenting crackdown on the women's rights movement". His wife, Ensaf Haidar, is now living in Canada.

In April, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his "serious concern" over the continued jailing of Badawi to King Salman. At jeopardy, are the tens of thousands of Saudi students in Canada'.

Criticism of the deal angered the Saudis, who said publicly that the contract was meant to be a gift to cement friendship between the two countries and noted Riyadh could easily have awarded it to manufacturers elsewhere in the world. Bilateral trade between the two nations exceeded $4bn previous year and 15,000 Saudi students attend universities and schools in Canada.

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