UAE says British student sentenced for spying ‘treated fairly’

Matthew Hedges, right, with his wife Daniela Tejada in this undated picture. (Detained in Dubai /AFP)
Updated 23 November 2018
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UAE says British student sentenced for spying ‘treated fairly’

  • ‘We can confirm that he was sentenced to life in prison’
  • Matthew Hedges was researching the UAE’s foreign and internal security policies when he was detained at Dubai airport

DUBAI: The UAE said on Thursday British academic Matthew Hedges has been treated "fairly," and that it was determined to protect its important and strategic relationship with key ally Britain.

Matthew Hedges was sentenced to life in prison on charges of spying for the British government on Wednesday in a move described as "deeply disappointing" by Prime Minister Theresa May.

"Matthew Hedges has been treated fairly and according to the constitution of the UAE," a statement from the Gulf state's foreign ministry said.

It added Hedges was provided with translators and "it is not true that he was asked to sign documents he did not understand."

"Officials from both countries have discussed the matter regularly over recent months. Both sides hope to find an amicable solution to the Matthew Hedges case," the statement said.

 

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday that he was “deeply shocked and disappointed” by the decision of the UAE court.

“Today’s verdict is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances,” he said.

Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD student, was researching the UAE’s foreign and internal security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011 when he was detained at Dubai airport on May 5.

He was granted temporary release on October 29 but constantly monitored until Wednesday’s court hearing, only his third since his arrest.

UAE attorney general Hamad Al-Shamsi said earlier this month that Hedges was accused of “spying for a foreign country, jeopardizing the military, political and economic security of the state.”

UAE's foreign ministry said that Hedges has been treated "fairly and according to the country's constitution," determined to protect its important and strategic relationship with key ally Britain. It added that translators were provided for Hedges and said, "it is not true that he was asked to sign documents he did not understand."

Hedges has repeatedly denied the charges.

According to The National newspaper, a life sentence for a foreigner entails a maximum of 25 years in jail and is followed by deportation.


UN pushes for truce and aid at Yemen talks

Updated 20 min ago
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UN pushes for truce and aid at Yemen talks

  • Askar Zaeel, a member of the government delegation, said his camp would hold firm to UN Security Council Resolution 2216
  • Multiple draft proposals have been submitted to the two delegations over the past week

RIMBO, Sweden: With 24 hours left before the scheduled close of UN-brokered talks on Yemen, mediators pushed Wednesday for a truce between warring parties as a crucial step to allow aid deliveries.
Mediators are seeking a de-escalation of violence in two flashpoint cities: Houthi-held Hodeidah, a port city vital to the supply of humanitarian aid, and Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, scene of some of the war’s most intense fighting.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was due in Rimbo late Wednesday for Thursday’s closing round of consultations.
Both government and militia representatives traded accusations of unwillingness to negotiate, particularly on militia-held Hodeida, the main route for 90 percent of food imports and nearly 80 percent of aid deliveries.
Multiple draft proposals have been submitted to the two delegations over the past week. None have found consensus as yet.
“I think there is some progress, even if it’s with much difficulty. It’s slow progress,” Houthi representative Abdelmalik Al-Ajri told AFP. “We are faced with the intransigence of the other side.
“Things should become clearer today.”
Askar Zaeel, a member of the government delegation, said his camp would hold firm to UN Security Council Resolution 2216 — which calls for the Houthis to withdraw from all areas seized in a 2014 takeover, including Hodeidah.
Iran supports the militia politically but denies supplying them with arms.