Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that they have officially frozen all trade and investments with Canada. They have also abruptly expelled their Canadian ambassador from the country, ordering him to leave within 24 hours.
Their swift action against Canada comes in response to a tweet by Canada's Foreign Policy, which Saudi Arabia has called "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable."
The tweet in question was published this past Friday morning. In the tweet, Canada FP says it is "gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists," in Saudi Arabia. Canada FP urges Saudi authorities to end their cruel treatment of "peaceful human rights activists."
Specifically, Canada's Foreign Policy calls attention to Saudi activist Samar Badawi, one of several activists who were detained for speaking out about human rights. Since May, nearly a dozen Saudi human rights activists have reportedly been targeted by the country's authorities.
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
Badawi's sister-in-law now lives in Quebec with her three children, and the family has just received their Canadian citizenship. Her husband, Badawi's brother, was held in Saudi Arabian prison for 10 years and endured physical torture for "criticizing clerics."
Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs also released this statement on Twitter, "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."
Saudi Arabia, however, says that Canada FP's statement was "false" and a "blatant interference" with Saudi affairs. Saudi officials say that "immediate action" has been taken to prove that Canada's "incorrect claims" about the country's internal affairs will not be tolerated.