Durham PhD student Matthew Hedges, who was held in solitary confinement over allegations of spying in the United Arab Emirates in 2018, has launched court proceedings against several Emirati officials for false imprisonment, assault and psychological torture.
Hedges was arrested while on a two-week research trip to the UAE in May 2018 and sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged espionage. After a petition to release him, he was granted a presidential pardon and was able to return to the UK seven months later.
Upon his return, he said that he was forced to make a false confession relating to espionage activity for Britain and accused UAE officials of using psychological torture against him. He claims that he was given a cocktail of drugs, questioned for hours at a time and kept in handcuffs.
His lawyers released a statement two days ago, on Wednesday 5th May , saying that he will claim damages against four senior Emirati officials, among them the Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi police at the time of his imprisonment, and a senior intelligence official.
He now claims damages of up to £350,000 against the four officials. There has been no comment from the UAE as of yet.
Hedges said: “On 5th May 2018, I was detained and tortured in the UAE. Three years later, I am still waiting for the truth and justice.” He also said that the Emirati authorities had “no interest” in finding those responsible for his imprisonment.
The Hatfield student stated in October 2019, almost a year after his release, that he was still struggling with the psychological effects of his imprisonment.
Image: Daniela Tejada