LONDON: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned of “repercussions” after a United Arab Emirates court on Wednesday sentenced British student Matthew Hedges to life in jail having convicted him of spying.
“I am deeply shocked and disappointed,” said Hunt. “Today’s verdict is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances.”
The minister warned the UAE that “the handling of this case… will have repercussions for the relationship between our two countries, which has to be built on trust.
“I regret the fact that we have reached this position and I urge the UAE to reconsider,” he added.
Hunt said he had personally raised the case at the highest levels of the UAE government, including during a visit to Abu Dhabi on November 12.
Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD student at Durham University in northern England, was researching the UAE’s foreign and internal security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011.
He was detained at Dubai airport on May 5.