Wife’s plea to government over British ‘spy’ Matthew Hedges held in UAE

The wife of a British academic detained in the United Arab Emirates on spying charges has called on the UK government to confirm publicly he was not involved in espionage on their behalf.

Durham University PHD student Matthew Hedges, 31, was stopped in May while trying to leave Dubai Airport following a study trip to the Gulf.

For nearly six months he has been held at an undisclosed location, often in solitary confinement, and has struggled both mentally and physically.

His wife, Daniela Tejada, has been told the spying charges relate to Mr Hedges allegedly using his academic work as cover for intelligence gathering on behalf of the UK government.

Daniela Tejada's husband is being held in the UAE
Ms Tejada said: ‘I no longer know what to do to get my husband out of prison’

She said: “The charges against Matt are false and unsubstantiated, as is the purported evidence to support them.

“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.

“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.”

In a statement, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: “We remain deeply concerned about Matthew Hedges and are in regular contact with the Emiratis regarding his health and wellbeing.

“We continue to press for consular access. We also remain in close contact with Matthew’s wife, Daniela.”

But the spokeswoman would not be drawn on the allegation that Mr Hedges was working as a spy for the UK government.

“It is the longstanding policy of successive UK governments not to comment on intelligence matters,” she added.

On Monday, the attorney general for the UAE, Dr Hamad Al Shamsi, confirmed Mr Hedges had been charged “with spying for and on behalf of a foreign state, jeopardising the military, economy and political security of the UAE”.

He said evidence had been secured from Mr Hedges’ electronic devices as well as surveillance and intelligence gathering by UAE security agencies.

Previously, Mr Hedges’ academic work has included research into the Muslim Brotherhood – a group classed as a terrorist organisation in the UAE.

His next court appearance in Abu Dhabi is scheduled for 24 October.

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