Saudia suspending flights to Canada

Saudia, the state airline of Saudi Arabia, plans to suspend operations to Canada starting Aug. 13.

A Saudia aircraft approaches runway 24R at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Aug. 6, 2018. Jeff Wilson Photo
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The airline announced via Twitter that all flights to and from Canada will be suspended, as diplomatic tensions between the two countries continue to intensify.

Saudia operates at least two routes to Toronto Pearson International Airport–one to the Saudi capital city of Riyadh and another to the city of Jeddah, the Canadian Press reported.

This is the latest in a series of apparent retaliations by Saudi Arabia after Canada’s federal government criticized the arrest and detention of two female bloggers and activists.

“Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi,” Global Affairs Canada said in a tweet.

“We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.”

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The Saudi Foreign Ministry denounced the statement, taking issue with the term “immediately release.”

Saudi Arabia announced Aug. 5 it would suspend future trade with Canada and sever diplomatic ties, giving Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horrak 24 hours to leave the country.

“We are always going to speak up for human rights, we are always going to speak up for women’s rights and that is not going to change,” said Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, in Vancouver on Monday.

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