UAE 'demanded Britain swap dissidents' for jailed academic Matthew Hedges
The United Arab Emirates reportedly attempted to pressure British authorities to extradite UK-based political dissidents in exchange for the release of an academic convicted for spying.
Citing an anonymous source in London, pan-Arab news website Arabi21 said on Tuesday that UAE authorities requested the British government hand over political opponents in the country for Matthew Hedges.
"The move angered the British who told Abu Dhabi that British law does not allow the extradition of people granted asylum and that the procedure was complex and could not be done through an easy government decision," the report said.
Hedges, a university researcher, was detained at Dubai airport on May 5, held in solitary confinement for months and sentenced to life in prison on November 21 before being pardoned by UAE authorities five days later.
Since his release, Hedges has said he was psychologically tortured and that his captors asked him to turn double agent against the British government.
Hedges has said he was carrying out research on the UAE's foreign and security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011 for a doctorate at Durham University.
The case caused outrage in Britain, a close ally of UAE. The UAE continues to assert that he was a spy and says Hedges was treated fairly.