Amnesty calls on Grand Prix drivers and fans to tweet support for Matthew Hedges
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, Amnesty International is calling on Formula 1 drivers, their teams and motor racing fans to show their support for the jailed British student Matthew Hedges, along with others unfairly imprisoned in the UAE.
Mr Hedges, a University of Durham PhD student, was sentenced to life imprisonment on “spying” charges this week after a five-minute trial hearing during which his lawyer was not present.
Hedges, who was charged in relation to his academic research, was arrested in May and held in solitary confinement until last month when he was released on bail. Amnesty believes his trial was “grossly unfair” and his conviction “unsound”, and the organisation is calling for Hedges to be released unless his fair trial rights are properly recognised.
Following meetings between UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Emirati government officials, the UAE’s ambassador to the UK has said the UAE wishes to find an “amicable solution” to the case.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:
“We’d like to see Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and all the other drivers and their fans showing their support for Matthew Hedges and other unfairly jailed prisoners in the UAE.
“A supportive tweet from the likes of Lewis Hamilton could help keep the plight of unfairly-jailed prisoners in the minds of the Emirati authorities, not least as the UAE clearly sees the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as part and parcel of the country’s glitzy, modern image.
“Arrest, extended solitary confinement and sham trials are the dark reality for those who the authorities go after in the UAE - a far cry from the glamour of motor sport.
“We can’t allow the UAE to use the Grand Prix for yet more sportswashing.
“The UAE authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience who have been detained solely for peacefully criticising the authorities.”