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Saudi Arabia Freezes New Trade Deals with Canada, Recalls Envoy

Saudi Arabia Freezes New Trade Deals with Canada, Recalls Envoy

In 2014, the Canadian unit of USA weapons maker General Dynamics Corp won a contract worth up to $13 billion to build light-armored vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history.

Neighbors and allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates said they stood with Riyadh, although they did not announce similar measures.

"It would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of the opportunity to study here", Freeland told reporters. "It's a message to countries across Europe and across the rest of the world that criticism of Saudi Arabia. has consequences". The Saudi state airline, Saudia, said in a statement on its official Twitter account that it would suspend all flights to Toronto starting next Monday, Aug. 13. If you want to open up your country to the world, you don't start expelling ambassadors and freezing trade with countries such as Canada", said Joost Hiltermann, regional program director for the International Crisis Group.

Last week, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said at least 15 human rights defenders and women's rights activists critical of the Saudi government had been arrested or detained arbitrarily since 15 May.

Her brother Raif was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for "insulting Islam" online back in 2014, while his wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

His case long has been raised by worldwide human rights groups and Western diplomats, including Canadians, who have called on Saudi Arabia to free him.

Badawi's wife and children now live in Canada.

Freeland tweeted about the arrests on Thursday.

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Last week, Canada said it was "gravely concerned" over the new wave of arrests of rights campaigners, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, and called on Riyadh to "immediately release them".

The leading Saudi women's rights campaigner Manal al-Sharif thanked Canada for "speaking up" and asked when other Western powers would do the same.

The rupture, which underscores a newly aggressive foreign policy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comes after Canada denounced a new crackdown on women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom.

Samar's brother, blogger Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an worldwide outcry.

Saudi women still need permission from male guardians to travel overseas or marry. The Saudi government also banned new trade with Canada, although it was unclear if it would affect existing annual Saudi-Canadian trade of almost $4 billion and a $13 billion defense contract.

Bilateral trade amounts to CAN $3-4 billion (US $2.3-3.1 billion) a year, according to Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa.

Armoured tanks and personnel carriers have been Canada's biggest recent export to the kingdom.

"We continue to encourage the government of Saudi Arabia to respect due process and to publicize information on the status of legal cases", the official added. In 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the Scandinavian country's foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as "medieval" and the kingdom's ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship".