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Saudi Arabia has declared the ambassador of Canada persona non grata and ordered him to leave in 24 hours, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

"The kingdom announces that it is recalling its ambassador [Naif bin Bandar Al Sudairi].to Canada for consultation".

Last week, the Canadian government publicly took the Saudis to task after the kingdom arrested two women's-rights activists, the latest to be swept up in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists.

In its statement on Sunday, the Saudi foreign ministry suggested that the Canadian foreign ministry's demand was tantamount to interference in Riyadh's affairs and warned that any further action would be seen as a license to meddle in Canadian affairs. The ministry denounces Canada's stance as "explicit interference in the internal affairs" of the kingdom that runs "contrary to the most basic global norms and charters that govern relations between countries".

Canadian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. More than a dozen women's rights activists have been targeted since May.

"Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi", she wrote on Twitter.




So far this year, Canada has exported C$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) in merchandise goods to Saudi Arabia and imported C$2 billion in imports, leaving it with a cumulative year-to-date trade deficit with the kingdom of about C$640 million, according to Statistics Canada data.

Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia exceeded $4-billion a year ago, a significant portion of it from a controversial multibillion-dollar deal to sell combat vehicles equipped with machine guns and cannons to the Saudis.

In April, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his "serious concern" over the continued jailing of Badawi to Saudi King Salman.

His wife and three children live in Quebec and became Canadian citizens last month.

The ministry stressed "that this negative and surprising position from Canada is an incorrect and totally incorrect claim to the truth, and that no information or facts have been found to be correct and that the two parties have been arrested by the competent authority, the Public Prosecutor's Office, Their rights, which are considered legitimate will be provided them with all guarantees during the investigation and trial stages".


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