Saudi Arabia to stop visas for Swedish citizens amid human rights row

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Saudi Arabia will no longer issue business visas to Swedes or renew the current visas of Swedish nationals living in the country, a senior Saudi official told the Associated Press on Thursday.

The official said the decision is in response to Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom’s recent criticism of Saudi Arabia’s record on human and women’s rights. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information.

The move appears aimed at pressuring Stockholm to distance itself from Wallstrom’s comments. She spoke out during a speech in the Swedish parliament against the flogging of a Saudi blogger who was convicted of insulting Islam on a liberal blog he founded. She said the royal family had absolute power, making Saudi Arabia a “dictatorship” where “women’s rights are violated.

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