The wife of a man detained in the UAE has joked he would be a “terrible spy” as she pleads for his release.
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.
His wife, Daniela Tejada, has spoken to Sky News as it emerges he may be charged with espionage.
She said: “It is absurd.
“I think if he was a spy he would be terrible, he would be far too conspicuous.
“He was doing his research, he was very open about what he was doing.”
Mr Hedges’ PhD was in Emirati security policies after the Arab Spring and included work on the Muslim brotherhood.
Ms Tejada acknowledges that his work has the potential to be controversial, especially in the UAE.
She said: “But he is a very knowledgeable person in his field.
“He would never have taken a risk that would have taken him to this extent. He never expected the UAE to adopt this absurd attitude and to think of him as any threat.”
She added: “I must emphasise Matt is a man of integrity, he is a good person, a principled person and that is not a wife’s bias, that is friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people I do not know who have expressed solidarity with me because they have met him at one point or another.
“He just does not deserve this treatment. He deserves to be free.
“I have never seen anyone with as much passion for the UAE as Matt.
“He is inquisitive but should not be punished for it.”
Since Mr Hedges was arrested in May, he has been held in solitary confinement, with no access to reading materials or human contact. He is allowed a short phone call each week, but his wife has only been allowed to see him once.
Before he made his research trip, Mr Hedges, 31, had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and had been due to start non-medicated treatment on his return to the UK.
Ms Tejada said: “He told me recently that his only method to let go of his nerves is vomiting.
“He has been vomiting every day for the last three months. He has had medical treatment but I do not know to what extent it has been appropriate because he has been prescribed anti-depression, anti-anxiety and sleeping pills.
“It does not just have side effects in the moment but long long after it has been taken.
“I do not want Matt to come out of this hell and into a new one where he is addicted to pills. He had asked for a psychiatrist, but he has been denied it.”
His heartbroken wife said the one occasion that she has been allowed to see him since his detention, he was a far cry from the outgoing, bubbly person who she says people describe as “the ultimate British lad”.
The pair met at Exeter University in 2010, when she was about to start her BA, and he was due to move to the UAE.
They have spent much of their relationship as a long-distance couple and married last January.
Ms Tejada said she was finding the treatment of her husband “demoralising” and begged the Foreign Office to keep pushing for a result.
“Please put more pressure… I value everything they have done so far, they have been very involved, and on most occasions, very responsive, but something must have failed because this situation just seems to be getting worse and worse for Matt,” she said.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I have mentioned it face-to-face with the Emirati foreign minister twice now.
“We are very concerned to make sure there is proper due process, the court system is fair and that Matthew Hedges is treated properly and humanely and we get a just outcome.”