Matthew Hedges, tortured in UAE in 2018, tells reporters and activists to take clean phones and watch who they deal with.
Journalists and campaigners attending the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai should “not be naive” and take steps to protect their physical and digital security, a British academic who was tortured in the summit’s host country has warned.
Matthew Hedges, who was detained in the United Arab Emirates for seven months in 2018, advised reporters and activists to take new, clean phones, think carefully about who they deal with and how and where they protest.
“In a country like the UAE, there are multiple laws which are heavily repressive and restrict the ability for free speech, free opinion,” Hedges said, warning that he still suffers trauma after he was jailed while researching a PhD on the UAE’s security and defence apparatus. “Don’t be naive like I was,” he added.
The latest UN climate summit began on Thursday in the autocratic country, the world’s seventh largest oil producer, where media and protest are tightly restricted and human rights activists are subject to harassment. The UAE also has access to Pegasus spyware that can secretly take control of a person’s mobile phone.
Hedges said: “Take a clean phone, a new phone with limited access. Do not have social media on your phone, or if you do, make sure it is a business account, with two-factor authentication, or something like this, and do the same for the safety, integrity of your emails.”
A phone used by the British academic was one of a list of 400 UK numbers that appeared on a leaked list of persons of interest to the UAE for potential targeting by mobile phone spyware two years ago, although the developer of Pegasus denied at the time this was the case.
Read more: theguardian.com