The United States has asked Saudi authorities for information about the arrest of a number of Saudi activists and demanded Riyadh respect legal procedures, US media reported.
“We have asked the government of Saudi Arabia for additional information on the detention of several activists,” a US State Department spokesman said, adding that Washington has encouraged Riyadh to “respect due process and to publicise information on the status of legal cases.”
The spokesman stressed that Saudi Arabia and Canada are “close allies” of the United States.
Earlier on Monday, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh and recalled its ambassador over what it described as “blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs”.
The move came after Canada expressed concern over the arrest of activists in Saudi Arabia, including prominent women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi, and called for their release.
Saudi Arabia also announced the freezing of all new trade and investment between the Kingdom and Canada, while retaining the right to take further action.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education has also announced the suspension of all scholarship, training and fellowship programmes to Canada, saying it was preparing “an urgent plan” to transfer all students enrolled in the programmes to other countries.
The Saudi Airlines has suspended all reservations and flights to and from Toronto.
Canada, for its part, said it would “always defend human rights”.