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The ministry called the Canadian statement a blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs, against "basic global norms and all worldwide protocols".

"The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is in contravention of the most basic worldwide norms and all the charters governing relations between States", the Saudi foreign ministry said on Twitter.

"The kingdom announces that it is recalling its ambassador to Canada for consultation".

Saudi Arabia has ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the country and suspended new trade and investment with Ottawa after Canada's foreign ministry urged Riyadh to release arrested civil rights activists.

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests of women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi. The Saudi Foreign Ministry also said it would freeze "all new business" between the kingdom and Canada.

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs", it said.

"Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia", Freeland wrote on Twitter.

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In a statement released to the official Saudi Press Agency Sunday, the ministry "expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which was not based in any accurate or true information". Ms. Badawi is one of at least 18 civil-rights activists arrested since May, four of whom have been temporarily released, activists say.

The Saudi foreign ministry voiced anger over the Canadian statement.

Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar has been granted asylum by Canada, where she is raising their three children now aged 14, 13 and 10 as a single mother.

The move follows vigorous calls by Canada for the immediate release of activists that have been detained.

Just two months ago, Saudi women were given the right to drive a vehicle, yet several of the country's most prominent women's rights activists - including some who fought for years to drive - were arrested earlier this year on national security grounds.

Bilateral trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia surpassed $4 billion last year, in part due to a controversial 2014 arms deal worth $15 billion over several years.