Amnesty International slams UAE’s verdict on Durham University student

Durham University student, Matthew Hedges, was sentenced to life in prison in the United Arab Emirates for spying.

Amnesty International UK’s foreign expert Polly Truscott told Voice of London:

“Matthew is just the latest person to experience the appalling injustice of a sham Emirati trial – local human rights activists, political critics and even Emirati judges and lawyers have all been convicted in similar circumstances.”

“We’d like to see a far more robust position from the UK in defence of human rights across the entire Gulf region.”

Hedges was conducting research on the UAE’s involvement in the Arab Spring and its security policies. He was arrested at Dubai airport on May 5thon his way back from a research trip in the UAE.

In October, he was officially convicted of espionage and remained in custody until his court date, November 21st.

Abu Dhabi’s Federal Court officially announced the verdict after a brief five-minute hearing: “The Federal Appeals Court of Abu Dhabi sentenced Matthew Hedges, 31, to life imprisonment after being convicted of spying on the UAE and providing sensitive security and intelligence information to third parties.”

There is no information regarding what exactly Hedges allegedly spied on. The nature of the espionage has not been released to the public.

Neil Durkin of Amnesty International UK told Voice of London: “We don’t have much information ourselves – only that the charges related to his PhD research. We can’t be definitive about the evidence against him – but we are sure the trial was very unfairly conducted, he was held in solitary confinement for more than five months, and made to sign a confession he didn’t understand at the time.”

Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada she has only been able to speak with her husband for five minutes following his trial and he is suffering from panic attacks.

Update: Hedges was freed from prison on the 26th of November and returned to the UK the following day.

Words: Salvi Shahlaie | Subbing: Laureta Doci

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