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UK academic charged with spying in UAE released on bail

October 30, 2018 at 12:02 am

Matthew Hedges with his wife Daniela Tejada [Family handout]

A British academic charged with espionage in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been released on bail, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Matthew Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, was arrested on May 5 at Dubai airport after a two-week research visit. He was formally charged this month with spying on the Gulf state, where he has been held in solitary confinement.

The sources did not say when Hedges was released on bail. The UAE’s Federal Court of Appeal last week postponed hearing his case until Nov. 21 to re-examine the evidence.

A UAE government spokesperson could immediately be reached for comment outside working hours.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s foreign office in London said: “We are monitoring developments closely and have made the Emirati authorities aware of all our concerns. We continue to do everything we can for Matthew and his family.”

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The BBC reported Hedges was released on bail without his passport and has been told to remain in the UAE until his next court appearance on Nov. 21.

The UAE’s attorney general has said Hedges was charged with spying for a foreign state, without naming it, and jeopardizing the military, economic and political security of the country.

More than 500 academics from around the world have issued a petition urging UAE authorities to release him.

According to 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 ruling families or policies and staunchly opposes the Islamist ideology of the Brotherhood.