Wife of jailed British academic calls on UAE to recognize 'misunderstanding'

The wife of a ...

Posted: Nov 23, 2018 1:38 PM
Updated: Nov 23, 2018 1:38 PM

The wife of a British academic jailed in the United Arab Emirates on charges of espionage has spoken of her shock at his life sentence and accused the country of mishandling and misinterpreting his case.

Amid signs that Britain and the UAE are looking for a way out of the diplomatic conundrum, Daniela Tejada told CNN's "Hala Gorani Tonight" program Thursday that "the UAE should have the sensibility and the humanity to recognize that it has been a misunderstanding and that Matt has paid for someone's lack of judgment."

Continents and regions

Europe

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Northern Europe

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

Embassies and consulates

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

International relations

International relations and national security

State departments and diplomatic services

Matthew Hedges, 31, a specialist in Middle Eastern studies at Durham University in England, was arrested by UAE officials at Dubai International Airport in May. He was held in solitary confinement for almost six months before being released on bail last month. Hedges and his wife have repeatedly denied the allegations of spying, but prosecutors insist the British academic confessed.

In her first TV interview since her husband's sentencing Wednesday, Tejada said, "It's not unheard of that governments -- in authoritarian regimes particularly -- misinterpret research as espionage work or as a threat."

She continued, "Matt, sadly, is the first person to endure such a travesty in the UAE as a Western academic, but it happens very frequently in other countries in the Gulf and it happens to Emirati academics."

Tejada's remarks came shortly after her first meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Thursday. She had earlier accused the Foreign Office of failing her husband by putting ties with the UAE above the freedom of British citizens.

"I wish that my concerns had been taken more seriously from day one. ... But I'm positive that at least now that the Foreign Office (is) taking a firmer stance," Tejada said.

After the meeting, Hunt tweeted an update to the diplomatic spat, saying he had "just had a constructive conversation with the UAE FM Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed."

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

Life interrupted

Hours earlier, the UAE signaled hope for Hedges and his family in a statement that stressed the importance of relations with the UK.

Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said via state-run news agency WAM that Hedges can appeal the court decision within 30 days and that families "also have the right to appeal for Presidential Clemency on behalf of convicted relatives."

It added: "The UAE is determined to protect its important strategic relationship with a key ally. Officials from both countries have discussed the matter regularly over recent months. Both sides hope to find an amicable solution to the Matthew Hedges case."

In response, Tejada told CNN, "I hope they indeed reach an amicable solution and that solution is to bring Matt back home. I will not rest until I have him back and safe and home with me."

The UAE reiterated that Hedges had been "treated fairly and according to the constitution," with access to medical and psychological care, translators and British Consulate officials.

But Tejada refuted those assertions.

"I don't trust the UAE judicial system. The way the case has been handled has been very concerning and against all international standards in spite of what the UAE insist on," she said. "Contrary to their statements for example, he did not have medical and psychiatric care throughout."

Tejada said Hedges was only permitted three visits from British Consulate officials -- the first of which came after six weeks of detention.

"He did not have medical and psychiatric support," she added. "He did not have access to legal counsel throughout the interrogation process and the months that followed. ... He did not even know his lawyer's name until three or four days ago."

Tejada said she does not know her husband's whereabouts and has not been allowed to speak to him since the court ruling.

"It's very tough to just think about what might be going through his head. The terror that he must be feeling and just the sheer sadness that the country that he considered to be his second home -- since he lived there for so many years -- has paid him back with such mistreatment and injustice," she said.

In a desperate attempt to uncover any misunderstanding there may have been with the UAE, Tejada said she combed through her husband's emails dating back to 2013 but failed to find anything that might implicate him.

Instead, she insisted he is innocent and desperately hopes he will be freed before the holidays and back for their second wedding anniversary in January.

"I just wish that the people who have decided to take his fate into their hands could see that he's not just a man on his own," Tejada pleaded.

"He's a man with a family and he's a man with a young wife who loves him, who he has plans to have children (with), and a dog and a house in the countryside, and a man who means no harm," she said. "I never meant any harm when I went out to the press. I just want him back."

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 71°
Florence
Few Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 69°
Fayetteville
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Scottsboro
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11650225
Mobile8998191
Montgomery6198143
Madison493225
Tuscaloosa391263
Baldwin317522
Shelby300232
Marshall294730
Unassigned263351
Lee249140
Morgan220615
Etowah191425
DeKalb167713
Elmore158437
Calhoun15359
Walker145763
Houston130912
Dallas128023
Russell12201
Franklin118420
Limestone118313
St. Clair118212
Cullman111311
Colbert107612
Lauderdale105312
Autauga101020
Escambia96515
Talladega89013
Jackson8163
Chambers81438
Tallapoosa80478
Dale77619
Butler75135
Blount7223
Covington70420
Coffee7035
Chilton6976
Pike6547
Barbour5625
Lowndes54624
Marion53524
Marengo51514
Clarke4849
Hale44925
Bullock43711
Perry4284
Winston42811
Wilcox4029
Monroe3884
Randolph38810
Conecuh37110
Bibb3643
Pickens3639
Sumter36118
Washington31011
Macon30813
Lawrence3060
Crenshaw2843
Choctaw27312
Henry2433
Greene24011
Cherokee2337
Geneva2260
Clay2165
Lamar1942
Fayette1695
Cleburne1141
Coosa902
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 109627

Reported Deaths: 1073
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21296285
Davidson19320199
Rutherford604251
Hamilton562147
Knox392634
Williamson323022
Sumner316069
Unassigned29244
Out of TN282312
Wilson206420
Montgomery171111
Bradley170510
Sevier17025
Trousdale15726
Putnam154713
Robertson143216
Hamblen121713
Tipton11049
Blount10987
Maury10665
Washington10382
Madison88912
Bedford86210
Macon83413
Hardeman79411
Sullivan7809
Lake7440
Bledsoe6681
Loudon6493
Fayette6178
Anderson5995
Dickson5871
Gibson5582
Cheatham5445
Dyer5427
Rhea4971
Jefferson4892
McMinn47920
Lawrence4746
Obion4274
Henderson4260
Carter4245
Lauderdale4216
Coffee4112
Warren4004
Hardin3987
Cocke3911
Cumberland3756
Greene3695
Haywood3695
Smith3613
Monroe3569
Roane3561
Giles3449
Hawkins3244
McNairy3105
DeKalb3041
Franklin2854
Marshall2632
Weakley2603
Lincoln2511
Carroll2263
Hickman2260
Crockett2233
Wayne2141
Claiborne2120
Henry2110
Campbell2071
Marion2064
Chester1921
White1913
Grainger1680
Polk1661
Johnson1600
Decatur1591
Unicoi1360
Overton1341
Union1180
Cannon1170
Jackson1071
Grundy1012
Humphreys1013
Scott1010
Meigs960
Sequatchie940
Benton921
Morgan791
Fentress740
Hancock741
Perry740
Stewart700
Clay620
Lewis561
Houston550
Moore420
Van Buren320
Pickett221

 

 

Community Events