US, EU seek details of Saudi arrests but dodge Canada spat
- Ashley Reed
The sharp diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada has left Washington - partners and allies of both - in a bind, but the State Department on Tuesday nevertheless urged Riyadh to respect due process for detained activists.
Saudi state airline Saudia said it was suspending flights to and from Toronto, Canada's largest city.
The feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia has escalated quickly since it began on Friday, after Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised concerns about the Kingdom's human rights record following the arrests of several prominent human rights activists.
Riyadh said that amounted to "blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs, against basic worldwide norms and all global protocols".
Bahrain said it supports the measures by Saudi Arabia in response to statements made by Canada's foreign affairs minister.
Just two months ago, Saudi women were given the right to drive a vehicle, yet several of the country's most prominent women's rights activists - including some who fought for years to drive - were arrested earlier this year on national security grounds.
Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday said Canada isn't backing down from its position that leads to the diplomatic dispute.
Traders said they had received an official notice from the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) about its decision.
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Since May, a dozen Saudi human rights campaigners have been arrested according to Human Right's Watch.
How did Saudi Arabia react?
Infographic KSA, a pro-government Saudi Twitter account, shared the image on Monday, hours after Riyadh announced it had expelled the Canadian ambassador and suspended new trade and investment with Ottawa.
The Saudi Kingdom was less than thrilled about Canada's "interference", saying it had no business to meddle in its local affairs.
Niagara College was expecting 40 students from Saudi Arabia to arrive for the fall term. Samar's brother, Raif Badawi, is a blogger who was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing the Saudi clerics, for which he was convicted of "insulting Islam".
The Saudi foreign ministry ordered Horak to leave the country, and called the use of "immediately release" in Canada's tweet "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".
'It is now time for other governments to join Canada in increasing the pressure on Saudi Arabia to release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally, ' said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East campaigns director. "We are always going to speak up for human rights; we're always going to speak up for women's rights; and that is not going to change", she said. In 2015, Riyadh recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the European Union member country's foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as "medieval" and the kingdom's ruling Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship".
On Tuesday, Saudi's main state wheat agency told traders it had stopped buying Canadian-origin wheat and barley.