Foreign Office failed to notice torture of British academic in UAE, watchdog finds

Parliamentary ombudsman says Matthew Hedges was let down by UK government during imprisonment.

The UK’s parliamentary ombudsman has found that the Foreign Office “failed to notice signs of torture” when officials visited a British academic imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates.

Matthew Hedges was convicted on spying charges by the UAE in 2018 after travelling to Dubai to conduct research for his PhD at Durham University. He spent six months in prison, where he has said he had been handcuffed, drugged and questioned for hours, before being pardoned from a life sentence for spying.

The ombudsman wrote in its finding: “It’s hard to imagine the experience Mr Hedges has endured and quite how terrifying his detention must have been. The nightmare was made even worse by being failed by the British government. He trusted them to help him and they let him down. Officials failed to notice signs of torture, failed to intervene and failed to help.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Hedges said he hoped the finding would prevent people in similar circumstances from enduring the same treatment.

Read more at The Guardian

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