Academic accused of spying appears in UAE court after months in confinement

A British academic accused of spying in the United Arab Emirates has appeared in court after five months in solitary confinement

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

The 31-year-old was detained at Dubai Airport on May 5 and his family said he has been held in solitary confinement since then.

Mr Hedges appeared at the Federal Court of Appeal in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. He denies spying for the UK Government.

His lawyer requested an adjournment and the next hearing is due to take place on November 21.

Mr Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, who live in Exeter, Devon, said: "It pains me to think that by his next court hearing, Matt will have been detained for over six months for carrying out legitimate academic research."

She added: "Matt is an innocent man. He was in the UAE to finish his PhD. The evidence will undoubtedly show this."

The 31-year-old’s wife Daniela Tejada has previously said her husband’s rights are being "violated on a daily basis" .

She has claimed "the only reason he went to the UAE was for his academic research."

It was also claimed he was held in solitary confinement after being detained "without explanation" following the research trip.

His family said they have only been allowed to visit him twice since he was detained "with no explanation".

His treatment has "improved a little" and he has now been taken for an external medical assessment, Ms Tejada said.

In a joint statement, Durham and Exeter Universities said they are "deeply concerned" for Mr Hedges’ welfare and that he is suffering from "significant health issues".

Mr Hedges completed a Masters degree in Middle East Studies at Exeter, and began working on his PhD at Durham in 2013.

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