Saudi state airline suspends flights to Canada in escalating row over activists

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Move comes as US asks Riyadh for more details on detention of human rights activists that sparked diplomatic row

Saudi Arabia’s state airline has suspended flights to and from Toronto from Monday, escalating the diplomatic row between the two countries following Canada’s call for the release of detained human rights activists in the kingdom.

The United States on Monday asked the Saudi government for more details on the detention of activists and urged it to respect due process in the first comments by Washington since the dispute between Riyadh and Ottawa erupted.

“We have asked the government of Saudi Arabia for additional information on the detention of several activists,” a State Department official said in a statement, calling both Saudi Arabia and Canada “close allies.”

“We continue to encourage the government of Saudi Arabia to respect due process and to publicise information on the status of legal cases,” the official added.

On Monday, Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said in her first response to Riyadh expelling the Canadian ambassador and freezing new trade and investment: “Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women’s rights are human rights.”

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