Durham University PhD student Matt Hedges has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of spying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), home of the University of Birmingham Dubai.
A court in Abu Dhabi has declared him guilty of “spying for or on behalf of” the UK government.
BBC News has reported that foreign media were barred from the five-minute hearing earlier, he had no lawyer present and the sentence was revealed by the family.
Details of the case are still emerging. You can follow developments on the BBC News website by following the link below:
Statement from Birmingham UCU committee
We would like to express our shock and disbelief that UAE authorities have chosen to impose a life sentence on British academic Matt Hedges.
Our thoughts are with Matt, his family, friends and supporters at this difficult time. We want them to know that we remain determined to support Matt and help secure his safe return to the uk.
Matt’s case highlights the very threats to academic freedom and the severe consequences risked by staff and students operating in the UAE.
We here at Birmingham are especially troubled by today’s verdict because of its relevance to the University of Birmingham, which is in the process of building its new University of Birmingham Dubai campus in the UAE. We, along with other staff, students and our local MP, have consistently raised serious safety concerns about the Dubai project. To date, management have been unable to provide clear assurances over how they would protect the safety of staff and students. Sadly, today’s verdict makes it all the more urgent that the University provides clear answers to staff and students’ safety concerns.