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The New Arab

British PhD student detained in UAE during research visit

Hedges has been detained since May [Facebook]

Date of publication: 11 October, 2018

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A British student has been detained in the UAE on spying charges, following a visit to the country for research project.

A British student has been detained in the UAE since May, following research he conducted in the Gulf state.

Matthew Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD student, has been held in solitary confinement for five months and is standing trial accused of "seeking confidential information about the UAE" to pass on to foreign agencies.

The Durham University student's attended his second hearing on Wednesday, but the case was adjourned until 24 October, according to the Financial Times.

He was detained at Dubai airport on 5 May after a two week research project in the UAE for his doctoral project, where he questioned figures on the country's security and foreign policy.

Local press reported last month, without mentioning him by name, that a suspect had been detained for asking sensitive information. 

Hedges used to work as an analyst for a security and political consultancy firm in the UAE.

His wife, Daniela Tejada, said she has received no information about the charges against him and that she was concerned about his well-being.

"His rights are violated on a daily basis and I am shocked that more has not been done to get him out," she said, according to the daily.

She said that her husband had spoken of suicidal thoughts during a phone call with him, and that he slept on the floor for the first month of his detention and was denied a shower.

The foreign office confirmed it was supporting a British man detained in the UAE, while Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said he had personally raised the issue with Emirati leadership.

Among the issues Hedges is thought to have raised in his interviews was Yemen, a delicate subject for the Emiratis.

The UAE has launched a massive crackdown on dissent in the country since the 2011 Arab Spring, including the detention of 94 people accused of links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abu Dhabi has also aided Arab leaders and figures in their crackdowns against political Islam in the region, including Egypt dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar.

The UK and US are close allies.

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