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

Celebration of life announced for Parksville man who died following reported hit and run

Investigation still underway following death of Spencer Alexander Moore

Mushroom festival returns to Coombs

Displays, talks, mushroom identification and more

ELECTION 2019: NDP’s Gord Johns re-elected in Courtenay-Alberni

Conservative Byron Horner finishes second, with Green Party’s Sean Wood third

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

Girl approached by stranger at Nanaimo elementary school playground

Brechin Elementary School principal sends letter to parents after Oct. 22 incident

100-pound pumpkin stolen a second time from B.C. business

According to security footage, a man and woman took the pumpkin on Oct. 20 at 8:20 p.m.

Greta Thunberg declines invitation to Victoria due to time, not ferry emissions

Thunberg confirmed that she will be joining a climate strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Feds finally decriminalizing drugs possible – but it’s up to Jagmeet Singh, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

In the news: Wexit, Brexit and Trump sparks outrage

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group

Most Read