UK Student Hedge's Life Sentence In UAE To Sour Bilateral Relations - London

LONDON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 21st November, 2018) The life sentence given to Matthew Hedges, a Ph.D. student from the United Kingdom's Durham University who was accused of spying by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will affect the bilateral relations of the two countries, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, a court in Abu Dhabi declared Hedges guilty of spying on behalf of the UK government and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

"I am deeply shocked and disappointed by the verdict today. I have personally raised the case of Matthew Hedges at the highest levels of the UAE government, including during my visit to Abu Dhabi on 12 November ... However, today's verdict is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances ... I have repeatedly made clear that the handling of this case by the UAE authorities will have repercussions for the relationship between our two countries, which has to be built on trust," Hunt said in a statement.

Hunt added that London would continue to do everything possible to support Hedges.

Hedges, 31, was arrested at Dubai airport in May as he tried to leave the country after a study trip. The student reportedly came to the UAE to gather information for his research on the nation's security policy following the Arab Spring. On October 15, the UAE attorney general confirmed Hedges had been charged with spying on behalf of a foreign state.