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Matthew Hedges: British student held in UAE for five months over 'spying charges'

The i logo The i 11/10/2018 i Team
Matthew Hedges, a PhD student at Durham University, was arrested on May 5. © Other Matthew Hedges, a PhD student at Durham University, was arrested on May 5.

A British student has been imprisoned in the UAE for five months after being detained "without explanation" on a research trip.

Matthew Hedges, a PhD student at Durham University, travelled to the UAE to interview sources about the country's foreign policy and security strategy.

He was taken into custody at Dubai airport on 5 May and transferred to Abu Dhabi.

His colleagues believe he is suspected of spying for Qatar, whose relationship with its Gulf neighbour has declined.

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Rights being violated

The 31-year-old has been held without charge ever since and his rights are being "violated on a daily basis", his wife Daniela Tejada said.

Durham student Matthew Hedges is being held in "inhumane and degrading" conditions. © Johnston Publishing Ltd Durham student Matthew Hedges is being held in "inhumane and degrading" conditions.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is understood to have personally raised Mr Hedges's case with his UAE counterpart amid concerns over his mental health and wellbeing.

British officials have visited Mr Hedges twice, although he is said to have been prevented from discussing his case with them.

Mr Hedges's case was heard by a court in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, but was adjourned until another hearing on October 24.

Ms Tejada said all she wants "is for Matt to come home safely".

Get him out

"We cannot believe this has happened. We have been patient and done everything that has been advised, supposedly in Matt's best interest, but we can no longer go on like this.

"Matt is a brilliant researcher, a man of integrity, and he has been punished in the most unjust and unfair way. His rights are violated on a daily basis and I am shocked that more has not been done to get him out," she said in a statement.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is understood to have raised the case with his counterpart. © Reuters Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is understood to have raised the case with his counterpart.

"Matt is a British citizen; he visited the UAE exclusively for academic research purposes and has been detained without charge for over five months in an undisclosed location. This is appalling and more must be done to ensure he is safely brought home."

According to a profile on the Durham University website, Mr Hedges's research includes Middle Eastern politics, the changing nature of war, civil-military relations and tribalism.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Our staff are supporting a British man following his detention in the UAE. We are assisting his family and remain in close contact with authorities."

Reporting by PA

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