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Matthew Hedges not allowed to look at wife at 5-minute UAE jail hearing

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Matthew Hedges Daniela Tejada,
A
composite image of Matthew Hedges with his wife, Daniela Tejada,
and the skyline of the Dubai Marina.

Daniela Tejada via AP/Julian Finney/Getty Images for
XCAT


  • The wife of a British academic who has been sentenced
    to life in prison in the United Arab Emirates said he was not
    even allowed to look at her in court.
  • Matthew Hedges was sentenced on charges of spying for
    the British government at a five-minute hearing where he didn’t
    have a lawyer.
  • His wife also said that she was not allowed to speak to
    him after the sentence and that she does not know where
    he’s

     being held.
  • The UK government said that it has not seen no evidence
    that Hedges is a spy, and that there will be “serious
    diplomatic consequences” for the UAE, usually seen as an
    ally.

The wife of a British man imprisoned in the UAE on spying
charges said he wasn’t even allowed to look at her during the
five-minute hearing where he was sentenced to life.

“I asked him to look at me if he
was feeling too nervous and he tried to do so on a couple of
occasions but he was asked to face the judge,” Daniela
Tejada, wife of academic Matthew Hedges, told the BBC’s “Today”
programme.

Tejada also said that she was not
able to talk to him after he was sentenced on charges of spying
for the British government on Wednesday in a five-minute hearing
in which he had no lawyer present.

“W
e were separated by about 10-20 meters and as
soon as the sentence was given we were both made to leave the
room immediately.”

Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD
student in Middle Eastern Studies at Durham University
,
has been in detention since he was
arrested at Dubai Airport in May
. He was not allowed any
legal representation until his third court hearing,
UK newspaper the Guardian reported.

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of prominent activists have been held for months in Saudi Arabia
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record is stronger than ever

Tejada said that Hedges had to
ask to hear the verdict again to “

double check if he had heard right.”

The UAE’s attorney general, Hamad al-Shamsi, said that
Hedges would have the right to appeal the verdict before the
federal supreme court, though Tejada told the “Today” programme that she
has only been able to speak to his court-appointed lawyer once
about this possibility.

She said that she does not yet have confirmation of where he is
now being held. She said: “I
imagine he is just as distraught as I am.”

The UK government has condemned the sentence and said could have
serious diplomatic consequences for the relationship between the
two allies.


Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary Jeremy
Hunt, pictured in November, said there will be ‘serious
diplomatic consequences’ for the UAE.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

UK foreign minister Jeremy Hunt tweeted
on Wednesday
that the UK government had “seen no
evidence to back up charges against” Hedges. He said that his
office would do “ALL we can to get him home.”

“UAE claim to be friend & ally of the UK so there will
be serious diplomatic consequences. Unacceptable,” he
wrote.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that she
was “deeply disappointed and concerned” about the case and said
that she will raise it with authorities in the UAE.

But Tejada said that the government “should have taken a
firmer stance from the beginning” and that the foreign
office had been dismissive of her repeated requests for help in a
bid to preserve their relationship with an ally.


They were stepping on eggshells instead of
taking a firm stance.”

The UAE said that Hedges pleaded
guilty to the charges when he was being cross-examined, the
Guardian reported.

But Tejada says that any
admissions her husband may have made after months of detainment
and solitary confinement should not be considered valid.


He was put through so much strain for six
months that absolutely nothing that he said — or didn’t — can be
used against him,” Tejada said.

The core issue is that he was
being detained and being held … for something that he did not
do.”

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