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Repression in the UAE: The case of Matthew Hedges

34 0 0
08.11.2018

Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student at the University of Durham researching the United Arab Emirates's response to the Arab Spring, was arrested at Dubai airport on May 5. He had just wrapped up a research trip focusing on the UAE's security policies and was about to head home. The arrest was kept out of the public eye until last month due to a recommendation from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to Hedges' wife, Daniela Tejada, to stay silent.

Despite the FCO's advice and concerns about mistreatment in prison that could result from going public, Tejada exposed the details surrounding the arrest of Matthew Hedges to the British press on October 11. Days later, Hedges was charged with espionage by the UAE authorities and was ordered to remain in custody until November 21, when evidence relating to his case would be re-examined. Matthew Hedges was subsequently released on bail, but remains under constant surveillance and can be ordered to return to prison at any time.

Although the revelation of Hedges' arrest has provoked reactions of shock and alarm among the British academic community, for seasoned watchers of UAE's political trajectory, it was a tragic inevitability. The chain of events that enabled this travesty began with the UAE's reaction to the outbreak of mass protests in Tunisia in December 2010.

While much of the Arab world rejoiced in the........

© Al Jazeera