(Montreal) Canada, which sparked a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia after its condemnation of the arrests of Saudi human rights defenders in 2018, said on Wednesday that it was “very satisfied” with the release of activist Loujain Al-Hathloul.
“Canada welcomes the release of LoujainHathloul and Noof Abdulaziz,” the Canadian Foreign Ministry tweet said. “We are all very satisfied with this outcome and thinking with their families and loved ones. # Women’s rights.”
Saudi human rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul was released on Wednesday after nearly three years in prison. She was arrested in May 2018, along with other activists, shortly before the ban on Saudi women driving was lifted, a reform that these women had been fighting for.
A few years earlier, Loujain Al-Hathloul had studied at the University of British Columbia, where she obtained her BA in French in 2014.
The president of this university, Santa Ono, said the announcement of his release was “encouraged”.
“We will continue to provide our support to her family and loved ones to support her release and achieve equality in Saudi Arabia – goals which she defended before all this courage,” he said in a press release.
In August 2018, an unprecedented diplomatic crisis erupted between Riyadh and Ottawa after a Canadian tweet calling for the “immediate release” of human rights activists who were arrested shortly before in Saudi Arabia.
Furious, Riyadh responded by expelling the Canadian ambassador and taking a series of retaliatory measures, including the suspension of commercial relations.
The Saudi foreign minister called on the Canadian government to correct its “mistake”, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to apologize and reaffirmed his commitment to defending human rights around the world.