Free Matthew Hedges!
Free Matthew Hedges!
My husband, Matthew Hedges has just been sentenced to life in prison in the UAE after being accused of spying. Matthew is an academic at Durham University, these charges are absurd. I am desperately pleading for help to get the charges dropped, and bring him home to the UK, where he belongs.
Matthew planned a two week trip to the UAE so that he could do research for his PHD thesis. He’s done research there before, so have many of his academic colleges, so it never crossed our mind that there would be anything to worry about with this trip.
But at the airport he was arrested out of the blue. He has spent nearly six torturous months in solitary confinement with extremely limited consular access. It’s destroying him mentally and physically.
He wasn’t given a fair trial. The court hearing lasted less than five minutes, with no lawyer present. UAE said he confessed, but he was made to sign documents in Arabic - and Matthew doesn’t speak the language - and endured tremendous psychological strain through the interrogation period, during which he didn’t have any form of consular or legal counsel available to him. Even the British Foreign Secretary has said “We have seen no evidence to back up charges against him.” Over 600 academics across the world have called for his release in this open letter.
I was shocked with the Foreign Office's initial handling of my husbands case. The government should take a much firmer stance with the UAE - who are supposed to be an ally - and make freeing Matthew a serious priority.
Matthew may be able appeal his sentence in one month’s time. Before then I am begging as many people as possible to back my petition calling on the British Government to do everything in their power to ensure the UAE let my husband come home. The more members of the British public that support us, the more we can hold the Government to account -- making it more likely that Matthew will come back to us.
I haven’t been able to speak to Matthew since he was sentenced. We’ve only recently got married, and have just started planning our lives together.
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