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British student held in UAE on ‘spying charges’

A British student is being held in the United Arab Emirates after being accused of spying.

Matthew Hedges, 31, has been in solitary confinement for five months since he was arrested at Dubai’s airport in May.

After his arrest he was taken to Abu Dhabi.

The only communication he was allowed with the outside world were a single phone call to his mother, two visits from Foreign Office officials and one visit from his wife of nearly two years Daniela Tejada.

On Wednesday, he appeared in the country’s state security court and was allowed to speak with a lawyer.

The case was adjourned until 24 October.

The charges against Mr Hedges have not been revealed but his wife said he was completing a PhD on Emirati security policies after the Arab Spring.

He had been in the UAE for research.

His colleagues believe he is suspected of spying for Qatar, which has a frosty relationship with the UAE, but Ms Tejada said: “We all know that is not true”.

A general view of the city skyline at sunset from Dhow Harbour on February 5, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Mr Hedges is being kept in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s federal capital

She told The Times that, despite being physically well, her husband is suffering from depression and panic attacks.

When she saw him in July, he had been “constantly shaking”, she said.

“He seemed to be very cautious about what he said and what he didn’t say which leads me to think he might have been coerced into saying or not saying things,” she added.

Mr Hedges spent part of his childhood in Dubai and has also worked there.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our staff are supporting a British man following his detention in the UAE.

More from United Arab Emirates

“We are assisting his family and remain in close contact with the local authorities.

“The foreign secretary has also personally raised his case with his Emirati counterpart.”

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