Matthew Hedges: British academic charged with spying released on bail
A British academic currently standing trial in Abu Dhabi on charges of spying on the UAE on behalf of the UK government has been released on bail, the Foreign Office has confirmed.
Matthew Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD student at Durham University, has reportedly been held in solitary confinement for nearly six months in Abu Dhabi.
He has been ordered to remain in the UAE until his next court appearance on 21 November and the government have kept his passport.
His movements will be closely monitored by authorities. He is being made to wear an electronic bracelet around his ankle and has been warned that he may have to return to jail.
Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, described her husband’s release on bail as “a great step” but she was “still hoping for justice.”
"However, I cannot allow myself to get too excited by this information as Matt is not fully free yet," she told the BBC.
Hedges, who is originally from Exeter, was seized at Dubai airport in May as he attempted to leave the country following a two-week research trip for his doctoral thesis on Emirati and security and foreign policies after the Arab Spring.
In a statement earlier this month, the UAE’s attorney general said that the UK academic is standing trial "on charges of spying for a foreign country and jeopardizing the military, political and economic security of the UAE."
Yesterday, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said:
“As the foreign secretary has made clear, there are limits to what we can say publicly on Matthew’s case due to ongoing legal proceedings. We are monitoring developments closely and have made the Emirati authorities aware of all our concerns. We continue to do everything we can for Matthew and his family.
“Our staff are in close contact with Matthew’s wife, Daniela, offering her all possible support at what we appreciate is a hugely difficult time. We also remain in regular contact with his lawyer. It is the longstanding policy of successive UK governments not to comment on intelligence matters.”
Hedges and his family have said he is entirely innocent of the charges.
The young student’s detention has sparked outrage from the educational community. Earlier this month over 500 academics across five continents signed an open letter demanding his immediate and unconditional release.