By Ali Semerci
RIYADH (AA) – Rebuffing Canada, the Saudi foreign minister on Wednesday said the country’s detention of human rights activists "has nothing to do with human rights."
Adel al-Jubeir’s remarks came after Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland last week called for the release of human rights activist Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed Saudi writer/activist Raif Badawi.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the "so-called civil society activists" had been detained on legal grounds and called Canada's request for their release "interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols."
"This crisis has emerged as a result of Canada's openly and unacceptably intervention in our internal affairs," al-Jubeir told reporters in Riyadh.
The arrests have “nothing to do with human rights” but are “about security," he said.
Al-Jubeir said that the detainees were suspected of espionage and investigations are ongoing.
Stating that Saudi Arabia respects all opinions and accepts constructive criticism, Al-Jubeir added that the country will not accept "dictation and interference" in its internal affairs.
Canada needs to understand that its move was "unacceptable," he said.
He said his country also got support from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), excluding Qatar.
On Sunday the Saudi government expelled Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak while recalling its own ambassador from Ottowa.