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Saudi Arabia closes embassy in Egypt amid protests over detention of activist

Cairo , Sun, 29 Apr 2012 ANI

Cairo, Apr 29 (ANI): Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy in the Egyptian capital and recalled its ambassador in the wake of protests over the arrest of a human rights lawyer.

The Saudi Embassy in Cairo has been the scene of protests for nearly a week after a Saudi judge sentenced Egyptian lawyer Ahmed el-Gezawi to one year in prison and 20 lashes for allegedly 'insulting' King Abdullah, according to Gezawi's family.

Saudi authorities, however, said Gezawi was arrested for smuggling several thousand doses of the antianxiety medication Xanax when he entered the kingdom to perform a pilgrimage to Mecca, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Gezawi's supporters claimed that Saudi authorities targeted the human rights lawyer because he filed a lawsuit against King Abdullah to complain about the arbitrary arrest, detention and ill-treatment of thousands of Egyptian guest workers.

According to the paper, the Saudi ambassador's withdrawal marks the worst escalation in diplomatic tensions between the two nations since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Meanwhile, Egyptian state media reported that the leader of the country's ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, contacted the Saudi government to attempt to mend the damaged relationship. (ANI)

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