ICBU to launch “Free Matthew” Action, after jailed for life in UAE
International Campaign to Boycott United Arab Emirates (ICBU) denounced the illegal sentence by UAE authorities against Matthew Hedges of Durham University. Hedges was sentenced for life in UAE under false and apparently ill-founded claims of espionage. He was detained in May at Dubai airport as he was leaving the country, and was held in solitary confinement for five months.
The Durham University student was detained while on way home from PhD research trip. A British academic who was accused of spying for the UK government in the United Arab Emirates after travelling to Dubai to conduct research has been sentenced to life in jail.
The Campaign regard the UAE step as a continuation of a series of illegal sentences against British expatriates, visitors and even its own citizens. The campaign assert on the fact that UAE’s judiciary system is broke and biased.
ICBU will launch “Free Matthew” action to expose UAE across the world. This will include protests and social media campaigns. It will also pressure the UK Government to act immediately to release Matthew.
Matthew Hedges, 31, has been in a UAE prison for more than six months. The Durham University student, who went to the country to research his PhD thesis, was handed the sentence at an Abu Dhabi court in a hearing that lasted less than five minutes, with no lawyer present.
Hedges denies the charges, and maintains that he was in the country to research the impact of the Arab spring on the UAE’s foreign policy.
According to the Guardian Newspaper, Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, who was in court, said: “I am in complete shock and I don’t know what to do. Matthew is innocent. The Foreign Office know this and have made it clear to the UAE authorities that Matthew is not a spy for them.
“This whole case has been handled appallingly from the very beginning, with no one taking Matthew’s case seriously. The British government must take a stand now for Matthew, one of their citizens. They say that the UAE is an ally, but the overwhelmingly arbitrary handling of Matt’s case indicates a scarily different reality, for which Matt and I are being made to pay a devastatingly high price.
“This has been the worst six months of my life, let alone for Matt who was shaking when he heard the verdict. The UAE authorities should feel ashamed for such an obvious injustice. I am very scared for Matt. I don’t know where they are taking him or what will happen now. Our nightmare has gotten even worse.”