By Aziz El Yaakoubi
DUBAI (Reuters) – A British academic has been charged for spying in the United Arab Emirates, UAE authorities said on Monday, five months after he was arrested at the end of a study trip.
Matthew Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, was arrested on May 5 at Dubai airport after a two-week visit and has been kept in solitary confinement since then, his wife Daniela Tejada said last week.
“The Attorney General of United Arab Emirates … confirmed today that Mr. Matthew Hedges, a British Citizen, has been charged with spying for and on behalf of a foreign State, jeopardizing the military, economy and political security of the UAE,” the government said in a statement.
Investigators had gathered evidence from Hedges’ electronic devices and intelligence from UAE security agencies, the statement said.
The British Foreign Office did not immediately reply for a request for comment. British authorities have said they raised Hedges’ case with the UAE previously.
Hedges appeared at a court in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi last week, after a first hearing earlier this month, but was not informed of any charges, his wife, Daniela Tejada, said, adding that she had been told his trial would resume on Oct. 24.
“Matt was in the UAE to carry out academic research for his PhD. Since he was detained on May 5, 2018 he has only ever been granted two consular visits which is in direct violation of his rights,” she said.
According Durham University’s website, Hedges is a doctoral student in the School of Government and International Affairs whose research interests include civil-military relations, political economy and tribalism.
Last year, he co-authored an article in an academic journal on the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the UAE is a member.
The UAE is a tourism and trade hub for the Middle East, but tolerates little public criticism of its monarchy or policies and is opposed to the Islamist ideology of the Brotherhood.
(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi, additional reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)