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UAE says due process to be followed over UK academic detained for spying

Published: Updated:

A British academic has been charged for spying in the United Arab Emirates, UAE authorities said on Monday, five months after he was arrested at the end of a study trip.

Last month, UAE media had reported that the attorney-general had ordered a trial for a foreign national accused of spying, without elaborating on his identity.

According to a report in The National, Hedges “appeared in a state security court in Abu Dhabi this week after being accused of attempting to obtain confidential information about the UAE to pass on to a foreign agency.” The next hearing is on October 24 with the court appointing a lawyer to review the case.

Daniela Tejada, wife of the accused, said on Thursday that Hedges, the 31-year-old PhD student of Durham University, was detained on May 5 at Dubai International Airport after a two-week research trip.

Meanwhile, Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that he was in contact with UK authorities about Hedges through the last five months. He added that the legal process must be allowed to take its course.

On Twitter, Gargash indicated that the UAE was disappointed with the UK response. “Case of Mathew Hedges extensively discussed with UK colleagues over last 5 months,” he tweeted. “With reluctance of UK authorities to address matter thru common channels, due legal process needs to take its course.”

The British Foreign Office has said it is offering support. According to Reuters, quoting diplomatic sources and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had personally raised the case with his counterpart.