Tyne & Wear

UAE spy row: Matthew Hedges's wife 'can't fight alone'

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Media captionDaniela Tejada says she "can't win this fight alone"

The wife of a British academic jailed for spying in the United Arab Emirates says she cannot win the fight to free him alone.

After a meeting with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Daniela Tejada said he had assured her he was doing all he could.

Matthew Hedges was sentenced to life imprisonment but denies spying.

Mr Hunt revealed he had "constructive" talks with his opposite number in the UAE and said he believes moves are being made to "resolve the situation".

Speaking outside the Foreign Office, Ms Tejada thanked Mr Hunt for "taking the time" to meet her at "this crucial point".

"He has assured me that he and his team are doing everything in their power to get Matt free and return him home to me," she said.

"This is not a fight I can win alone and I thank the Foreign Office and the British public for now standing up for one of their citizens."

Mr Hunt tweeted he had "just had a constructive conversation with UAE FM [Foreign Minister] Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed".

"I believe and trust he's working hard to resolve the situation asap," he posted.

"We've a close partnership with UAE which will help us take things forward."

Image copyright EPA/DANIELA TEJADA
Image caption Matthew Hedges was arrested in the UAE in May

Durham University student Mr Hedges had been in the country conducting research on the UAE's security strategy for his PhD thesis when he was arrested at Dubai airport.

Prosecutors said the 31-year-old, who is originally from Exeter, had confessed to spying.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country was "determined to protect its important strategic relationship with a key ally" and added it hoped both sides could find "an amicable solution" to the case.

The country's Attorney General Dr Hamad Saif Al Shamsi previously said Mr Hedges had the right to appeal.

Abdulla Al Naqbi, head of the ministry's Department of Legal Affairs, said "families also have the right to appeal for presidential clemency on behalf of convicted relatives".

In a statement, Mr Al Naqbi said "compelling and powerful evidence was presented in court" and that this included Mr Hedges' own confession.

Mr Hedges was offered, and accepted, the services of a court-appointed lawyer and was also provided with translators, he said.

"It is not true that he was asked to sign documents he did not understand," Mr Al Naqbi said.

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