Mr. Matthew Hedges, a Phd student at Durham University in England has been sentenced to life imprisonment for “spying.”
Mr. Hedges had travelled to Dubai to conduct research for his Phd before being arrested and held for more than six months prior to his trial.
Last Wednesday, the sentence was handed down in Abu Dhabi at a trial lasting less than five minutes. No lawyer was present. It is reported by Mr. Hedge’s wife, Daniela Tejada (27), that he was “visibly shaking” during the sentencing. Ms. Tejada said that no one had taken the trial seriously, and that the government “must take a stand now for Matthew.”
The government reaction
The Foreign Secretary Mr. Jeremy Hunt is meeting with Ms. Tejada to discuss her husband’s trial and imprisonment. Mr. Hunt has tweeted, “News on Matthew Hedges extremely worrying. We have seen no evidence to back up charges against him. FCO will do ALL we can to get him home & I will meet his wife Daniela tmrw. UAE claim to be friendly & ally of the UK so there will be serious diplomatic consequences. Unacceptable.”
Theresa May, the Prime Minister said during Prime Minister’s questions that she was “deeply disappointed and concerned” and that she would be raising it with the Emirati officials.
It is reported that Mr. Hedges was detained on May 5. He was leaving the country in reaction to accusations made by an Emirati man for “asking sensitive questions about some sensitive departments” and “seeking to gather classified information on the UAE”.
Mr. Hedges was researching aspects of the UAE’s foreign and domestic security strategy and the war in Yemen in relation to his Phd.
It has been reported that Mr. Hedges has made a confession to the charges against him, although the Foreign Office believes at worst Mr. Hedges was naïve, at best innocent.