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Saudi Arabia Yanks Thousands of Students Out of Canada Over Human Rights Dispute

08-07-2018

Saudi Arabia is pulling thousands of Saudi students out of Canada in retaliation after a Canadian official criticized the country's human rights record.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called last week for the release of civil rights activists jailed in Saudi Arabia and expressed concerns over a crackdown on political dissidents in the hardline Islamic country.

"Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world. Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy," a spokeswoman for Freeland said.

In a statement, the Saudi government called Freeland's comments a "major, unacceptable affront to the Kingdom's laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom's sovereignty."

Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, recalled its ambassador to Canada, and put trade deals between the two countries on ice.

According to a Saudi source who spoke to The Canadian Press, there are more than 15,000 Saudis studying in Canada on government-funded scholarships, grants or trainee programs. When you add in their family members, there are at least 20,000 Saudis that the government plans to transfer out of Canada.

The Saudi government plans to move them immediately to other schools in countries like the US and the United Kingdom.

Also, as of Monday, all flights between Saudi Arabia and Toronto will be suspended.

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