Saudi minister mocks Canadian demands for release of female activists

Al-Jubeir called Canada’s tweets ‘outrageous,’ like if Saudi Arabia demanded Canada let Quebec separate

The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister threw cold water on hopes the diplomatic row between his country and Canada will come to an end on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a Council on Foreign Relations forum earlier this week that she hoped to use the meeting as a chance to speak in person with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, but insisted Canada’s fundamental stance to defend the rights of women’s advocates was not going to change.

A day later, in an interview with the same organization, al-Jubeir said the only way to end the impasse is for Canada to apologize.

“We did not do this, you did,” he said. “Fix it. You owe us an apology.”

The dispute erupted in early August, after several tweets from Freeland and Global Affairs Canada called on Saudi Arabia to release several political activists who had been detained in late July. It appeared that a translation of the tweets posted by the Canadian embassy in Arabic was what pushed the Saudi government over the edge.

The Middle Eastern kingdom recalled its ambassador, barred future investments in Canada, banned imports of Canadian wheat, cancelled direct flights between Canada and Saudi Arabia, and pulled the scholarships of thousands of Saudi Arabian students studying at Canadian schools.

READ MORE: B.C. officials seek clarity after Saudi Arabia to reportedly remove students

READ MORE: In a matter of hours, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive

Al-Jubeir said Wednesday the students remained in Canada until new placements could be found and that stories about Saudi patients in Canadian hospitals being flown elsewhere were exaggerated because there had only been two Saudi patients in Canada at the time.

But he also said Canada’s tweets were “outrageous” and likened them to being the same as if Saudi Arabia demanded Canada let Quebec separate.

“‘We demand the immediate release.’ Really? We demand the immediate independence of Quebec. We demand the immediate granting of equal rights to Canadian Indians,” he said, referring to Indigenous Peoples in Canada. “What on earth are you talking about?”

Al-Jubeir added Canada’s ambassador met with the public prosecutor who explained the charges laid against the activists. The charges aren’t about human rights, but about national security, he said.

“These four individuals who are accused of taking money from foreign governments, accused of recruiting people to obtain sensitive information from the government and passing it on to hostile powers, accused of raising money and providing it to people who are hostile to Saudi Arabia outside Saudi Arabia.”

He said he’s happy to talk about human rights at any time, but will not be lectured about the issue.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nathan Cullen named Parliamentarian of the Year

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP won the top-title Nov. 5

VIDEO: Taking to the skies to protect moose in the Cariboo Chilcotin

Conservation Officer Service doubles patrols to oversee moose harvest

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Central Coast Regional District swears in new Board of Directors

There are three new faces representing our region and two returning directors

VIDEO: Black horse signals ‘sign of peace’ for Tsilhqot’in Nation

Justin Trudeau rides black horse provided by Cooper family

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read