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Theresa May says UK talking to UAE over spying charge for Matthew Hedges

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The case of a British student charged with spying in the United Arab Emirates has been raised with officials there “at the highest levels”, Theresa May has said.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the prime minister said the government was supporting Matthew Hedges and his family following an announcement by the UAE that the 31-year-old had been charged with spying “for a foreign state”.

Mr Hedges was arrested in May as he tried to leave Dubai airport following a study trip for his PHD at Durham University, but prosecutors claim it was “cover” for surveillance on behalf of the UK government.

In a statement, the attorney general of the UAE said the charge was “predicated on evidence secured from Mr Hedges’ electronic devices; surveillance and intelligence gathering by UAE intelligence and security agencies; and corroborating evidence provided by Mr Hedges himself”.

Mrs May told parliament his case had been raised with the UAE and that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had also personally raised the case with his Emirati counterparts.

The prime minister provided the update after Mr Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, expressed concern about his mental health and well-being.

“Matt has been kept in solitary confinement for over five months,” she said.

“Matt does not speak Arabic and is therefore unable to communicate fully with the court-appointed lawyer, who he has only met once, at his court hearing last week.”

She said he had only had two consular visits “in direct violation of his rights”, and he had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and had been due to start treatment when he returned home.

“Matt is a man of integrity and principle,” she added.

“He has a brilliant academic mind and an impeccable track record. He is kind and caring and greatly loved and respected. Please send him home.”

The UAE attorney general said Mr Hodges was accompanied by British embassy and consulate officials for his court appearance and had been given an “accredited legal translator”.

His trial is expected to resume on 24 October.

(c) Sky News 2018: Theresa May says UK talking to UAE over spying charge for Matthew Hedges