The United Arab Emirates is considering a clemency plea submitted by the family of British academic Matthew Hedges, jailed for life this week after being charged with spying, as both countries attempt to resolve a spat that threatens to damage ties.
In a televised statement, U.A.E. ambassador to the U.K. Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui defended the Gulf state’s judicial process in what he called an “extremely serious” case. The University of Durham doctoral student was accused of espionage and jeopardizing the state’s military, security and economy, according to earlier statements by U.A.E. authorities.
Hedges’ wife says he was arrested at Dubai’s airport on May 5 after spending two weeks in the U.A.E. studying the impact of the Arab Spring uprisings on the country’s foreign policy and security strategy.
There had been a full and proper investigation into the charges against Hedges, the envoy said Friday, countering statements from the academic’s family that he was sentenced after a five-minute hearing without his lawyer being present. The U.A.E. Foreign Ministry said Thursday it was seeking an “amicable solution” to the case.
The Abu Dhabi court ruling drew forceful condemnation from the U.K., with Prime Minister Theresa May vowing to take the case to the highest levels.
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