A court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sentenced to life in prison Matthew Hedges, a British PhD student charged with spying.
An Abu Dhabi court Wednesday read out the verdict giving the 31-year academic 30 days to appeal the ruling.
Matthew Hedges from Durham University in northern England was detained early May in Dubai on his way back home
after spending several days in the Gulf country where he was conducting a research on foreign and internal security policies of the Arab country post the 2011 Arab Spring.
Upon arrest, Hedges was charged with spying for a foreign state. Emirati authorities have not named the country but the British government lambasted the charges.
The researcher was released temporarily end of October on bail but barred from leaving the country.
Following the verdict, his wife, Daniela Tejada and supporters said the trial was void of normal procedure noting that Hedges was not provided with a lawyer during the five-minutes hearing.
The entourage added that the British citizen was forced to sign a document in Arabic which he cannot understand and which appeared to be an admission.
Tejada called on London to take a stand on her husband’s case.
UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt warned that the condemnation will bear repercussions for the relations between the two countries.
The UAE is one of the UK’s trade allies and is one of the leading buyers of British defense industry.
“I am deeply shocked and disappointed,” said Jeremy 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.”