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Tories put relations with UAE above welfare of its citizens, says wife of jailed academic

THE British government is putting its relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before the welfare of one of its citizens, the wife of a jailed academic charged today.

Daniela Tejada condemned the Foreign Office over its handling of the case of British citizen Matthew Hedges, who has been locked up for life in the UAE over allegations of spying.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who met the UAE British ambassador today, said he had threatened the UAE with “serious diplomatic consequences” if Mr Hedges is not freed as there is “absolutely no evidence” to support the charge.

But Ms Tejada said Britain had “failed” to take a strong position from the start.

She said: “I was under the impression they were putting their interests with the UAE above a British citizen’s rightful freedom and his welfare. They were stepping on eggshells instead of taking a firm stance.

“I believe that they should have taken a firmer stance from the beginning, if not publicly then through their private representations.”

Ms Tejada added that she believes Britain should stop at nothing to free the “innocent” Mr Hedges, who was imprisoned on “completely fabricated” evidence.

Mr Hedges, a Middle Eastern studies specialist at Durham University, was arrested at Dubai Airport in May and has been held in solitary confinement since. His family claims his “mental and physical health seriously deteriorated” while in confinement.

A Foreign Office spokesman did not say what form any possible diplomatic consequences could take other than that a number of options are available.


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