LONDON (Reuters) – The wife of a British academic who was jailed by a UAE court on spying charges called on the Emirati authorities on Thursday to review his life sentence and free her husband.
Matthew Hedges was sentenced to life in prison on charges of spying for the British government on Wednesday in a move described as deeply disappointing by Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Matt is innocent,” Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, told Reuters. “Handing a life sentence to an innocent researcher who held the UAE in high regard speaks volumes about their lack of tolerance and respect for human life.”
“They must review their sentence and release my husband who has already had more than six months taken away from us,” Tejada said.
The UAE’s foreign ministry said Hedges had been treated fairly.
The 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, has been held since May 5, when he was arrested at Dubai International Airport after a two-week research visit.
The evidence presented against him consisted of notes from his dissertation research, his family said.
A life sentence for a non-Emirati entails a maximum of 25 years in jail and is followed by deportation, according to The National newspaper.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison