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‘Shocked’ UK warns UAE of repercussions over spy student sentence

FILE PHOTO: Jeremy Hunt

London, United Kingdom | AFP | Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned of “repercussions” after a United Arab Emirates court on Wednesday sentenced British student Matthew Hedges to life in jail having convicted him of spying.

“I am deeply shocked and disappointed,” said 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.”

The minister warned the UAE that “the handling of this case… will have repercussions for the relationship between our two countries, which has to be built on trust.

“I regret the fact that we have reached this position and I urge the UAE to reconsider,” he added.

Prime Minister Theresa May told lawmakers that she was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, adding that her government would continue to press the matter at the highest level with the UAE.

Hunt said he had personally raised the case during a visit to Abu Dhabi on November 12, when he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed.

May said Hunt was seeking a call with the foreign minister.

Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD student at Durham University in northern England, was researching the UAE’s foreign and internal security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011.

He was detained at Dubai airport on May 5.

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