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

Rebels lose to Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1

Tigers break Rebels’ three-game winning streak

Red Deer’s newest outdoor ice facility opens to the public next week

The speed skating oval at Setters Place at Great Chief Park will be open Dec. 17th

Exhibition explores the rich history and culture of Métis people

The exhibition is on display from Dec. 15th to March 10th at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery

2019 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championship host sites announced

A total of 39 Provincial Championships will be hosted across the province

40-year Big Brother match a gift to Lacombe man

Andy Pawlyk and his Little Brother Chris Selathamby honoured at BBBS Awards Night

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

New home for Calgary Flames estimated to cost up to $600 million

The city and the Flames are not yet talking on who will pay how much for a building to replace the Saddledome

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Mike Duffy can’t sue Senate over suspension without pay, judge rules

Duffy’s lawsuit sought more than $7.8 million from the upper chamber

Language on Sikh extremism in report will be reviewed, Goodale says

A public-safety ministry document indicats terrorist threats to Canada included a section on Sikh extremism for the first time

Questions raised over retailers who shame shoplifters with photos

Alleged theft from a sex shop in Newfoundland led to posts on social media

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

Stettler man found guilty of illegally trafficking wildlife

Hunting license suspended for three years

Most Read