British PhD student arrested in UAE on spying charges

Elias Hubbard
October 16, 2018

Hedges was arrested after an Emirati apparently reported him to the authorities for "asking sensitive questions about some sensitive departments" and "seeking to gather classified information on the UAE".

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said on Monday that British doctoral student Matthew Hedges had been charged with spying.

Matthew Hedges, a 31-year-old who was researching the UAE's foreign and internal security policies after the 2011 uprisings in dictatorially-ruled Arab countries, was arrested at Dubai airport on May 5 as he was leaving the country following a research trip.

Hedges' wife Daniela Tejada said Tuesday he been "held in an undisclosed location in the UAE in solitary confinement" with limited access to the consulate and his family as well as no access to a lawyer until last week.

UAE Attorney General Hamad Said al-Shamsi said the charges were "based on legal evidence and findings from investigations that were carried out by the public prosecution".

However, there had been no formal statement as to what the charges were until yesterday when they were laid at a brief hearing in the state security court in Abu Dhabi.

Hedges' wife Daniela Tejada said her husband had not been given proper medical care and attention during his tie in custody and had been held in solitary confinement throughout.

"Since he was detained he has only ever been granted two consular visits which is in direct violation of his rights".

"He was just doing academic research", she said, adding that his research involved only open source material.

"Matt is a man of integrity and principle".

According Durham University's website, Hedges is a doctoral student in the School of Government and International Affairs whose research interests include civil-military relations, political economy and tribalism. He is kind and caring and greatly loved and respected. Prosecutors later said that he had been attempting to secure confidential information to potentially pass to a foreign agency. "Please send him home".

The Foreign Office says it is providing support, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has raised "a number of concerns" about the case with his UAE counterpart.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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