UAE charges British academic Matthew Hedges with spying

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    Tejada (L) said Hedges (R) has been in a solitary confinement since his arrest [Handout/Detained In Dubai/AFP]

    A British academic has been charged with spying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) five months after he was arrested at the end of a study trip, authorities said. 

    Matthew Hedges is to stand trial in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi “on charges of spying for a foreign country, jeopardising the military, political and economic security of the state”, according to a government statement on Monday.

    The 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, who was researching UAE’s foreign and internal security polices after the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, was detained at the Dubai airport on May 5. 

    Shamsi, without giving a trial date, said the charges were “based on legal evidence and findings from investigations that were carried out by the public prosecution”.

    He said that Hedges had been posing as a researcher to cover his activities, adding that the accusations were backed by “information taken from his electronic devices”.

    His wife Daniela Tejada, who has visited Hedges once and spoken to him on the phone several times, said Hedges has been kept in solitary confinement since his arrest.

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    Hedges appeared at a court in Abu Dhabi last week, after a first hearing earlier this month, she said, but was not informed of any charges.

    She also said that she had been told his trial would resume on October 24.

    ‘Very worried’

    “Matt was in the UAE to carry out academic research for his PhD. Since he was detained on May 5, 2018 he has only ever been granted two consular visits which is in direct violation of his rights,” she said.

    Tejada said last week that his research involved only open resources.

    “He’s not disclosed anything… classified or confidential,” she said, adding that Hedges had lived in the UAE for “several years” before he returned to Britain in 2015.

    British authorities have said they raised Hedges’ case with the UAE previously.

    British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told AFP news agency last week that he was “very worried” about Hedges’ fate.

    According Durham University’s website, Hedges is a doctoral student in the School of Government and International Affairs whose research interests include civil-military relations, political economy and tribalism.

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    Last year, he co-authored an article in an academic journal on the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the UAE is a member.

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