The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has intervened in the case of a Briton being held in detention in theUnited Arab Emirates, amid reports that the man is a PhD student accused of being a spy.
The Foreign Office said: “Our staff are supporting a British man following his detention in the UAE. 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.”
The man is a Durham university PhD student named Matthew Hedges, according to the Times. The 31-year-old has been held in solitary confinement since he was detained at Dubai airport in May as he tried to leave the country following a research trip, the paper said.
Hedges has only been allowed a handful of visits from his wife and Foreign Office officials since he was seized, it is claimed. On Wednesday he was reportedly taken to the UAE’s state security court for a hearing but no charges were outlined and the case was adjourned until later this month.
Hedges’s wife, Daniela Tejada, told the Times that her husband had been unharmed physically but had suffered panic attacks and depression. During a July visit to see him she said it was clear that her husband had been medicated.
“He was constantly shaking. He clearly did not expect to see me. 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 certain things,” she said.
Tejada said that her husband was studying Emirati security policies after the Arab spring and was aware of the risks as he had lived in Dubai when he was younger. “It breaks my heart that we have been married for nearly two years and only been able to spend four months together,” she told the paper. “I just want him back.”