Matthew Hedges has disclosed new details about his capture in the UAE, stating he still relies on the drugs he was force-fed during captivity.
Hedges endured seven months in “just a room, no light, no natural air”, lit only by “dentist lights” after being accused and arrested by the UAE of spying on behalf of the British government.
He eventually received a presidential pardon and returned home, after campaigning efforts by his wife Daniela Tejada and help from the Foreign Office.
However since returning home Hedges has been struggling with the treatment he received from his captors. He was forced to take a cocktail of drugs, including Xanax, Valium and Ritalin. He recently told The Sunday Telegraph he was given “up to ten times too much of these drugs on a daily basis.”
Hedges states that he is still “dependent but not addicted” to the drugs and struggles with lighting and crowds alongside various other reminders of his emotional trauma. “I’ve seen two psychiatrists, and I’m going to have continual medical assistance for the foreseeable future.”
The couple have lodged a legal complaint against the Foreign Office and are demanding that they do more to quash his initial conviction.
Daniela Tejada commented that they want to Foreign Office to “support Matt in clearing his name” and that “he’s been accused of being a British spy. So it’s an issue pertaining to the British government as much as it pertains to Matt.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, told the BBC that the Foreign Office had been very effective but acknowledged sometimes “we don’t always get things right”.
He added: “I’ve asked for someone inside the Foreign Office to look independently at what happened to see whether we did do everything we could in that case as quickly as we could.”
“The important thing is that we got Matthew out. There was an injustice, we made an intervention, we were prepared to put our relationship with the UAE, which is an ally of the UK, on the line, because we said a British citizen has not been fairly treated. And we got him home.”
Photograph: Daniela Tejada