Matthew Hedges says UAE asked him to spy on the UK
The British student jailed on charges of spying in the UAE has said that Emirati authorities asked him to become a double agent and ‘steal information from the [UK] Foreign Office’ during his six-month stay in solitary confinement in Abu Dhabi.
Matthew Hedges, 31, was released on a presidential pardon last week after being sentenced to life imprisonment in the UAE on charges of working as an undercover MI6 agent.
Speaking for the first time since his return to the UK, he has provided details of the ‘psychological torture’ he underwent during his six-month detention.
In an interview with The Times, Hedges said that UAE interrogators offered him leniency if he agreed to become a double agent and spy on the UK government - ordering him to steal documents from the British Foreign Office.
He added that some interrogation sessions would last up to 15 hours, during which time he was often shackled in chains and threatened with physical abuse.
"I was never physically tortured, but it was psychological, and it felt like torture," he told The Times.
The Durham student said that interrogators threatened: "We will take you to an overseas military base where you’ll be kept in a prison and you’ll be beaten and tortured and you’ll never see the daylight again."
Commenting on his detention conditions, Hedges said he was kept in darkness for 23 hours a day after suffering migraines from the fluorescent lights in his cell; was made to sleep on the floor for the first four weeks of his detention and force-fed a dangerous cocktail of drugs to treat his anxiety.
He says he falsely confessed to the allegations of spying under duress.
“I couldn’t take it any more” he told BBC Radio 4. “They even said that if you admit things and you tell us what we want to hear, we will make it easier for you.”
Hedges also spoke of his desire to clear his name once and for all. In the New Year, he will begin a campaign alongside his wife in a bid to be awarded clemency.