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    Matthew Hedges with wife

    ‘Horrifying Situation:’ UAE Charges UK Student With Spying

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    UK citizen and PhD student Matthew Hedges, who has been held in solitary confinement in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for five months, was charged Monday with spying in the Gulf country.

    The 31-year-old student, who was apprehended at Dubai airport in May while trying to leave the country after a research trip for his studies at Durham University in the UK, will stand trial in Abu Dhabi "on charges of spying for a foreign country and jeopardizing the military, political and economic security of the UAE," the country's attorney general Dr. Hamad al-Shamsi said in a statement Monday, according to Al-Jazeera. The doctoral student was researching the UAE's foreign and internal security policies following the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions before he was detained at the Dubai airport. 

    According to al-Shamsi, the charges were based on legal evidence from investigations that were conducted by public prosecution and intelligence from UAE security agencies. Hedges, he added, had been pretending to be a researcher to conceal his activities, and the accusations were backed by "information taken from his electronic devices."

    Since his detention, Hedges has had two visits from UK Foreign Office officials and one visit from his wife Daniela Tejada, with whom he had spoken on the phone several times since his arrest, Sputnik previously reported this week. According to Tejada, her husband has been in solitary confinement since his arrest, and his trial is scheduled to resume on October 24.

    "For nearly six months, my husband Matthew Hedges has been held in an undisclosed location in the UAE in solitary confinement with very limited access to the consulate or his family and no access to a lawyer until last week," Tejada recently said in a statement obtained by the Independent.

    "Information about his case, why he was being held and on what charges has been very difficult to attain and verify. This has been incredibly stressful and emotionally draining." 

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    She also noted that the charges against her husband are "false and unsubstantiated, as is the purported evidence to support them," calling on the British government to take action.

    "I no longer know what to do to get Matt out of prison in the UAE," Tejada, who lives in the city of Exeter in England, added. "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."

    Britain's Foreign Office has said that it is supporting Hedges and is in close contact with local authorities in the UAE.

    Last week, however, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he was "very worried" about Hedges' situation, AFP recently reported.

    "I've spoken to the Emirati foreign minister twice now on this matter face to face, so they are very aware of our concerns and we are monitoring it very closely," he added.

    Tejada, who was contacted on her social media accounts, did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.

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    solitary confinement, Arrest, spying, United Kingdom, UAE
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