Matthew Hedges: Wife urges UAE to free husband held since May

Related Topics
image copyrightDaniela Tejada
image captionDurham student Matthew Hedges is being held in "inhumane and degrading" conditions, says his wife

A British student has been detained for the last five months in the United Arab Emirates "without explanation" after a research trip, his wife has said.

Matthew Hedges, a PhD student at Durham University, has been held in solitary confinement after being accused of spying, according to the Times.

His wife said his rights were being "violated on a daily basis".

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had raised "a number of concerns" about the case with his UAE counterpart.

The Times reported that the 31-year-old, originally from Exeter, was arrested on 5 May at Dubai airport as he tried to leave following a research trip to interview sources about the country's security policies.

Mr Hedges's case was heard by a court in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, but was adjourned until another hearing on 24 October.

His wife Daniela Tejada, who lives in Exeter with her husband, said in a statement: "We cannot believe this has happened.

"We have been patient and done everything that has been advised, supposedly in Matt's best interest, but we can no longer go on like this."

She said he had visited the country "exclusively for academic research purposes" and had been detained without charge in an undisclosed location.

She added: "His rights are violated on a daily basis and I am shocked that more has not been done to get him out."

His family claim he was denied access to a shower for a month and was made to sleep on the floor for the first three months he was detained.

image copyrightDaniela Tejada
image captionDaniela Tejada says she is worried about her husband's mental health

The Foreign Office said it was supporting a British man following his detention in the UAE.

Mr Hunt said: "We are very worried about this and I have mentioned it face-to-face with the Emirati foreign minister twice now."

British officials have twice visited Mr Hedges, who was researching the impact of the Arab Spring on the UAE's foreign policy and security strategy.

Ms Tejada said she was worried what effect the "traumatic experience" will have on her husband's health.

She added: "I am shocked and confused by the whole situation and will do everything I can to make sure he comes home soon."

Durham University vice-chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge said the university was "seriously concerned about Matt's welfare and well-being" and was assisting efforts to bring him home.

The university has put a temporary ban on student research trips to the UAE for all non-UAE nationals until the reasons for the detention have been fully established.