Saudi airline stops flights to Canada amid escalating diplomatic row

Saudi airline stops flights to Canada amid escalating diplomatic row
Saudi Arabia's national airline Saudia announced the suspension of all direct flights to and from Toronto following Canada’s comments about the kingdom’s treatment of human rights activists.

The flights to Toronto Pearson International Airport will be suspended beginning August 13, according to the announcement the carrier published on its Twitter. Previously, Toronto was the only Canadian destination Saudia served. The company promised to find alternate solutions to customers affected by the measure.

Earlier this week, Riyadh froze all trade and education ties with Canada and expelled the country’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. In response, Canada pledged to continue advocating human rights.

Last week, Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concerns over the arrests of seven Saudi civil society activists. Saudi authorities accused Ottawa of interfering with its internal affairs.

“The Kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the Kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty,” according to a statement by the Saudi foreign ministry.

READ MORE: Did Saudis threaten Canada with 9/11-style attack? Some believe they did…

Canadian authorities said they are “seriously concerned” about Saudi Arabia’s freeze of new trade between the countries.

“Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, stressing that Canada was “seeking greater clarity” from the Saudi government.

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