British academic Matthew Hedges launches court action against UAE jailers

British academic Matthew Hedges launches court action against UAE jailers
The UK court action accuses four Emirati officials of assault, false imprisonment and the intentional infliction of psychiatric injury.
2 min read
05 May, 2021
Matthew Hedges says he was tortured during his detention in the UAE [Twitter]

British academic Matthew Hedges has started legal proceedings against four Emirati officials accused of involvement in his detention and torture in the UAE.

Hedges was detained in the UAE in 2018 during a doctoral research trip to the Gulf state, when he was accused and convicted of "spying for a foreign country".

"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. On top of that, the FCDO has not done enough to help me clear my name," Hedges said in an emailed statement on Wednesday, referring to Emirati authorities and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

"Today, my fight for justice continues and my lawyers have filed a case in the civil courts in order to hold those responsible to account. I hope it will ensure that what happened to me should never be allowed to happen again."

Hedges' court filing names Counsellor Saqr Saif Al-Naqbi, Major-General Mohammed Khalfan Al-Rumaithi, Major-General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al-Raisi and Ali Mohammed Hamad Hammad Al-Shamsi as defendants.

Hedges alleges that the four officials were involved in assault, false imprisonment, and the intentional infliction of psychiatric injury.

The British academic was detained in the UAE while researching the Gulf state's foreign and internal security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011.

He was held in solitary confinement for months and, accused of being an MI6 foreign intelligence agent, sentenced to life in prison. Hedges maintains his innocence of the charges.

Five days after being sentenced for "spying for a foreign country", the academic was pardoned by UAE authorities. However, he says his treatment has left him dependent on medication and has "strained" his personal life.

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