Saudi Arabia – Riyadh has arrested a score of people since May accused of conspiring against the country’s unity and national security.
Saudi Arabia has described the Canadian ambassador as “persona non grata” , giving him 24 hours to leave the country, as a result of Canada’s criticism of the arrests of Saudi activists fighting for women’s rights . Riyadh has also called for consultations by the Saudi ambassador in Ottawa and has suspended all new commercial transactions and investments with Canada, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The measures were announced following statements released by the Canadian Foreign Ministry last Friday, in which Ottawa pressured Riyadh to release several activists who support campaigns for women’s rights. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered the Canadian complaint to be a ” flagrant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom ” and added that it is unfounded and “is not based on any accurate or true information.
About twenty detainees
“The aforementioned persons were legally detained by the Prosecutor’s Office for committing crimes punishable by law , which also guaranteed the rights of the detainees and provided them with due process during the investigation and the trial,” the statement said. Riyadh stressed that it reserves the right to take further action and warned that if Canada takes “one more step in that direction,” it will consider it an acknowledgment of Saudi Arabia’s right of interference in the internal affairs of Canada.
Since mid-May, Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested about 20 human rights activists , accused of charges such as conspiring to undermine national security and stability and threaten the unity of the country . According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the arrested have confessed to the charges, including having maintained contacts with individuals and organizations “hostile” to the kingdom. They would also have recruited officials from government agencies to obtain confidential information and documents with which to harm Saudi interests.
Among those recently arrested is Samar Badawi , sister of blogger Raif Badwi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and receiving a thousand lashes for “insulting Islam”. Badawi is an internationally recognized activist for her work in favor of women’s right to vote, conduct and achieve social justice .