UK academic Matthew Hedges seeks damages from UAE officials

Academic jailed for spying by UAE in 2018 launches court proceedings against four senior Emirati officials involved in his case.

Hedges Reuters
British academic Matthew Hedges [File: Daniele Tajada/Handout via Reuters]

A British academic who was jailed on espionage charges by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched civil proceedings in a UK court against four senior Emirati officials, according to his lawyers.

The UAE had arrested Matthew Hedges in May 2018 and handed him a life sentence more than six months later after showing a video of him purportedly confessing to being a member of Britain’s spy agency and researching which military systems the Gulf state was buying.

After being granted a presidential pardon and returning to the United Kingdom in late November 2018, Hedges accused UAE investigators of subjecting him to psychological torture and forcing him to give a false confession. UAE officials at the time had denied the allegations and described the doctoral student at Durham University as a “part-time academic, part-time businessman and full-time spy”.

On Wednesday, a statement by Carter-Ruck Solicitors said Hedges was claiming damages against the four Emirati officials for assault, false imprisonment and the intentional infliction of psychiatric injury which allegedly occurred during the course of his detention in Abu Dhabi.

It identified the defendants as Counsellor Saqr Saif Al Naqbi, who was the head of state security public prosecution in Abu Dhabi at the time; Major-General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, who was the commander in chief of the Abu Dhabi police; Major-General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al Raisi, inspector general in the Ministry of the Interior; and Ali Mohammed Hamad Hammad Al Shamsi, a senior intelligence official in the UAE.

“On May 5th 2018, I was detained and tortured in the UAE. Three years later, I am still waiting for the truth and justice,” Hedges said in the statement.

“The UAE authorities have refused to answer the complaint that was submitted to them through the UK Foreign Office. It is clear they have no interest in finding out who was responsible for my abuse. This total lack of redress has prolonged my trauma and made it very difficult to move on with my life.”

There was no immediate comment by Emirati authorities.

Source: Al Jazeera