Justin Trudeau says Canada has been and continues to be clear and strong with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia about defending human rights.
The prime minister also says Canada has “serious issues” around reports about the disappearance of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi, although he says there is still more to learn before he’ll comment further.
And Trudeau says Canada has been engaged in a significant diplomatic effort on human rights with Saudi Arabia for many years, including in his own conversation last spring with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
“We have been extremely active both in private and in public over many years now around our concern for human rights in Saudi Arabia, and we will continue to be clear and strong in speaking up for human rights around the world regardless of with whom,” Trudeau told reporters today at la Francophonie’s biennial summit in Armenia.
The intrigue surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance has only deepened since he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in the Turkish capital of Istanbul 10 days ago.
Media reports in the U.S. say Turkish officials have audio and video recordings that prove the Washington Post columnist was interrogated, tortured and killed by a Saudi security team inside the consulate, where he was seeking official documents before his upcoming wedding.
The controversy comes after Canada’s own dispute with the Saudis, triggered when Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called for the immediate release of detained activists, including Samar Badawi, a champion of women’s rights and the sister of detained blogger Raif Badawi.
The Canadian Press