Saudi Arabia on Monday recalled its ambassador to Canada for consultation and gave the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh 24 hours to leave the country, official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The move came after Saudi security forces reportedly detained several human rights activists, which later saw Canada urge Riyadh to release them.
On Thursday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland voiced concern over the detainment of human rights activist Samar Badawi, sister of jailed Saudi activist and writer Raif Badawi.
"Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi," she wrote on Twitter.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the "so-called civil society activists" had been detained on the lawful terms and the Canada's request to release the detainees was "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," the statement said.
The ministry said "any intervention in its domestic affairs and internal relations with its citizens" would be rejected.
"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," read the statement.
"The persons referred to were lawfully detained by the Public Prosecution for committing crimes punishable by applicable law, which also guaranteed the detainees’ rights and provided them with due process during the investigation and trial," according to the statement.
The ministry also declared the Canadian ambassador 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," the statement added.
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