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UK urged to defend British academic detained in UAE

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UK urged to defend British academic detained in UAE

The wife of British academic Matthew Hedges, charged with spying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has urged the British government to clarify publicly her husband's innocence and issue a direct appeal for his release.

Tejada said that Hedges has been kept in solitary confinement since his arrest on 5 May at Dubai airport, where he has been forced to sleep on the floor for months and refused medical care to treat previously diagnosed mental health issues.

“I no longer know what to do to get Matt out of prison in the UAE. I am calling on the UK government to clarify publicly that Matt is innocent of the charges and that there have been many falsehoods said about him,” she said.

“It is the duty of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to protect their citizens abroad. This horrifying situation has been going on for far too long.”

Tejada claims her husband only met his legal representative for the first time at court last week, where she said proceedings were held in Arabic - a language that Hedges does not understand - with only questions directed at him translated into English.

The Durham student's defence team have now been given until 24 October to prepare his case.

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

He was researching aspects of the UAE’s foreign and domestic security strategy, including the war in Yemen.

According to a profile on the Durham University website, Hedges’ research includes Middle-Eastern politics, the changing nature of war, civil-military relations and tribalism. The university has said it is “seriously concerned” for his welfare while Amnesty International has called for his immediate release.

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