Saudi Arabia freezes Canada trade ties, recalls envoy

Chrystia Freeland

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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.

Saudi Arabia will suspend new trade and investment with Ottawa after Canada's foreign ministry urged Riyadh to release arrested civil rights activists, it said in a statement released to the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.

Amnesty International Canada secretary general Alex Neve said what has happened is a "clear indication that Saudi Arabia remains determined to rebuff and ignore any efforts to improve and address human rights concerns in the country".

"Using the phrase (immediately release) in the Canadian statement is very unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between States", the Saudi ministry said on Twitter.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia. will not accept interference in its internal affairs or imposed diktats from any country", the foreign ministry tweeted.

The UN has also voiced concern over the widening clampdown on opposition in Saudi Arabia, its human rights office (OHCHR) calling the spate of arrests that has been ongoing since spring "apparently arbitrary detentions".

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

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs".

Representatives for Canada's foreign department didn't respond to a request for comment.

The move comes after Canada said it was "gravely concerned" about the arrest of several human rights activists.

Last week, the Canadian government publicly took the Saudis to task after the kingdom arrested two women's-rights activists, the latest to be swept up in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expresses its absolute and categorical rejection of the position of the Canadian Government.

It says the arrests were made by "the competent authorities" and the detainees were provided with all the rights guaranteed during investigative and trail stages.

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