S Arabia slashes economic ties with Canada over civil rights activists

TEHRAN, Aug. 06 (MNA) – Saudi Arabia said it has expelled Canada’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy from the North American country after the government in Ottawa expressed concern over recent arrests of civil-society and women’s rights activists in the kingdom, adding it retained "its rights to take further action."

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry early Monday said the kingdom was also freezing all new business and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action.

The Saudi ministry had been briefed that the Canadian foreign ministry and the Canadian embassy urged the Saudi authorities to "immediately release" civil rights activists.

Last Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists.

Several of Saudi Arabian most prominent women’s rights activists -- including some who fought for years to drive -- were arrested earlier this year on national security grounds.

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