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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Graffiti sprayed on 100 Mile Community Hall

‘We’re having a hard time through this COVID’

Have you been following the Justin Trudeau and WE Charity story?

The weekly web poll for the 100 Mile Free Press

Highway 97 to be repaved in 100 Mile House following complaints

‘It’s been over a month now since those holes have been developing’

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

B.C. health officials pleased with likely extension of Canada-U.S. border closure

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the situation is ‘very serious in the United States’

Children suffer swollen eyes, burns while playing at Lower Mainland spray park

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

Most Read