Saudi Arabia is selling off its Canadian assets as row intensifies, report says

  • Saudi Arabia has been selling Canadian assets since Tuesday, according to a report.
  • Riyadh is angry at Canada's demand that two women's rights activists be released from jail.
  • Canada has said it will "always stand up for human rights."

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic spat with Canada looks set to escalate following a report that the Middle Eastern country has instructed its brokers to sell Canadian assets.

Anger between the two countries erupted last week when Canadian officials urged Riyadh to "immediately release" women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah.

Now the Financial Times has reported that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds have instructed third party asset managers to sell Canadian bonds, stocks and cash. The selling is said to have begun on Tuesday.

In a sign of its rage, Saudi Arabia has already expelled the Canadian ambassador, frozen trade and investment between Riyadh and Ottawa and halted flights to and from Canada.

Saudi rulers have also stopped all medical treatment programs in Canada and are coordinating for the transfer of all Saudi patients currently receiving care in Canadian hospitals to be moved outside of the country.

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday that "Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights."

But on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said there was nothing to mediate between the two countries and that Canada knew what it needed to do to "fix its big mistake."

So far, the United States has said only that it will not intervene between the two countries.

For more on the diplomatic row between Canada and Saudi Arabia, click here.

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