We are saddened to hear the shocking news that today, Matthew Hedges (Durham University PhD student) has been sentenced in UAE to life imprisonment.
BBC – live updates https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-tyne-46238426
BBC – article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-46288510
The Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/matthew-hedges-jailed-life-sentence-court-trial-uae-abu-bhabi-british-academic-a8644476.html
According to FT, his sentencing is for ‘allegedly spying on behalf of the UK Government’; a family spokesman said that the hearing ‘lasted less than five minutes and his lawyer was not present’.
The UK Foreign Minister reported: ‘I am deeply shocked and disappointed by the verdict today’. I have personally raised the case of Matthew Hedges at the highest levels of the UAE government, including during my visit to Abu Dhabi on 12 November. On that occasion, I spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed […] I have repeatedly made clear that the handling of this case by the UAE authorities will have repercussions for the relationship between our two countries, which has to be built on trust. I regret the fact that we have reached this position and I urge the UAE to reconsider.‘
Meanwhile, the University management are doing business with the same officials who are allowing this to happen, and since May (when Matt’s 6-month solitary confinement started) UoB have remained completely silent on this issue. They need to break this silence by making a public statement in support of Matthew, condemning the shocking sentence, urging the UAE to reconsider their position, and being clear about the detrimental effect of the sentencing on our future relationship with the UAE.