Saudi Arabia expels Canada envoy: full statement from Riyadh

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issues ‘sharp response’ to the ‘negative and unfounded comments’ by Canadian officials

In this March 9, 2018 photo, general view showing Riyadh city taken from Mamlaka tower, a 99-story skyscraper, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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Saudi Arabia said it is expelling the Canadian ambassador Dennis Horak over what it called "interference" in its internal affairs.

Riyadh will also recall its envoy, Naif bin Bandar Al Sudairi, from Ottawa and freeze all business ties.

Here is the full statement by the Saudi ministry of foreign affairs:

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been made aware of the statement by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Embassy in the Kingdom, on the so-called civil society activists who have been detained, urging Saudi authorities to release them immediately.

"The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which was not based in any accurate or true information. The persons referred to were lawfully detained by the Public Prosecution for committing crimes punishable by applicable law, which also guaranteed detainees’ rights and provided them with due process during the investigation and trial.

"The Ministry also affirmed that the Canadian statement is a blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols. It is a major, unacceptable affront to the Kingdom’s laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty.

"Throughout its long history, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has never accepted any interference in its domestic affairs by, or orders from any country. The Kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the Kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty. It is quite unfortunate to see the phrase “immediate release” in the Canadian statement, which is a reprehensible and unacceptable use of language between sovereign states.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – whilst expressing absolute rejection to the Canadian political stand regarding this matter – confirms its commitment to refrain from intervening in the internal matters of other countries, including Canada, and in return categorically rejects any intervention in its domestic affairs and internal relations with its citizens. Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs.

"Canada and all other nations need to know that they can’t claim to be more concerned than the Kingdom over its citizens. Thereby, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recalls the Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Canada back to Riyadh and considers the Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as Persona-Non-Grata who must leave the Kingdom within the next 24 hours. The Kingdom will put on hold all new business and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action."