Saudi Arabian regime ends visas for Swedish nationals in retaliation for human rights criticism

Sweden has ended a defence cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia will no longer issue business visas to Swedish nationals or renew the visas of Swedes living within its borders, the country’s regime has said.

The move comes days after Sweden’s recently elected centre-left government criticised Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and ended a defence cooperation agreement between the two countries.

On Wednesday Saudi Arabia also recalled its ambassador in Stockholm in protest.

Sweden’s feminist foreign minister Margot Wallström last week described the flogging of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi  as “medieval” in sharp contrast to the restrained responses from other countries, including the UK.

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Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has been vocal in her criticism of the country's regime

The country is a huge customer for Swedish arms firms and bought $39m of Swedish military equipment last year alone. Saudi Arabia recently became the world’s biggest arms importer.

Saudi Arabia is an autocratic monarchy with a widely criticised human rights record.

Women’s rights are especially limited in the Kingdom, where they are prohibited by law from driving a car or travelling without a male chaperone.

 

Beheading and flogging are still used as punishments under the country’s criminal code, which is based on Sharia law.

Criticism of Saudi Arabia is seen as off-limits by the governments of many Western countries because of its huge oil reserves and importance as a military ally of the Western powers.

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