Saudia suspends flights to Canada, escalating diplomatic spat

Saudia suspends flights to Canada, escalating diplomatic spat

Saudia suspends flights to Canada, escalating diplomatic spat

The latest retaliatory move came after Canada's ministry of foreign affairs raised concerns about the arrest of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi (pictured main), sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

Another trader said: "This is to me clearly part of the diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Canada, there is no other reason".

"So what he's doing is basically sending a message saying, we're not going to tolerate any outside criticism of our human rights record, right?"

It is unclear what, if any, implications the move has for existing trade ties between the two countries.

Ms Badawi is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.

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 global outcry.

His wife, Ensaf Haidar, and three children were granted Canadian citizenship earlier this summer, and live in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia "will deal with any interference decisively", dismissing Canada's position as "built on misleading information", in a statement carried by state media.

The displaced Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who was given 24 hours to leave the country, has a lengthy diplomatic career.

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According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian government's statistics agency, total Canadian wheat sales to Saudi Arabia excluding durum were 66,000 tonnes in 2017 and 68,250 tonnes in 2016.

The state airline operates at least two routes flying from Toronto. And they sent that tweet, which, given the very strong case that people in the Saudi government helped make 9/11 happen, is pretty bonkers.

"Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women's rights and freedom of expression around the world", she said.

A number of rights campaigners, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, have been arrested in the kingdom.

Speaking in Mississauga, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it's important the government bring Canadian values into its dealings around the world.

Among those reportedly still being held, in addition to Badawai, are Hatoon al-Fassi, a leading voice for women's participation in civil life; human rights defender Khaled al-Omair; women's rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Nouf Abdulaziz and Mayaa al-Zahrani; Ms Hathloul's 80-year-old lawyer, Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh; and the activist Abdulaziz Meshaal.

Canada's relationship with Saudi Arabia has been cordial in the past, which has sometimes stoked controversy at home.

Saudi Arabia's trade freeze now throws that deal into doubt.

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