British academic sues UAE officials and claims he was tortured after being accused of spying
A British academic has sued United Arab Emirates (UAE) security and intelligence officials for up to £350,000 in damages after being held in ankle cuffs, denied sleep and fed a cocktail of drugs when he was jailed as a spy.
Matthew Hedges, who was 31 at the time, was detained in Abu Dhabi between May and November 2018 after being accused of working for MI6.
In papers filed at the High Court in London, he is now claiming damages against four officials for assault, false imprisonment and psychiatric injury.
Mr Hedges, originally from Exeter, was sentenced to life imprisonment but was pardoned by the nation’s president days later.
Matthew Hedges (pictured with his wife Daniela Tejada), who was 31 at the time, was detained in Abu Dhabi between May and November 2018 after being accused of spying (file photo)
He has previously described how he was questioned for up to 15 hours a day and forced to wear ankle cuffs during his ordeal.
The Durham University PhD student has also said he faced sleepless nights, PTSD and was reliant on a cocktail of drugs that were fed to him in jail.
Mr Hedges has brought the case against Abu Dhabi’s head of State Security Public Prosecution at the time, Saqr Saif Al Naqbi, and the commander in chief of the emirate’s police force, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi.
Inspector General in the Ministry of the Interior, Major General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al Raisi, and senior UAE intelligence official, Ali Mohammed Hamad Hammad Al Shamsi, are also defendants in the claim.
According to court documents, Mr Hedges is expecting to recover between £200,000 and £350,000 in damages.
Neither the UAE government’s communications office nor the UAE foreign affairs ministry immediately responded to requests for comment on the case.
Defence papers are expected to be served in the coming weeks.
The UAE has previously said Hedges had not been subjected to any physical or psychological mistreatment during his detention.
Mr Hedges is claiming damages against four UAE officials, including Inspector General in the Ministry of the Interior, Major General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al Raisi (left) and the commander in chief of the emirate’s police force, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi (right)
Mr Hedges said: ‘On May 5, 2018, I was detained and tortured in the UAE. Three years later, I am still waiting for the truth and justice.
‘The UAE authorities have refused to answer the complaint that was submitted to them through the UK Foreign Office.
‘It is clear they have no interest in finding out who was responsible for my abuse.
‘This total lack of redress has prolonged my trauma and made it very difficult to move on with my life.’
He added: ‘I hope it will ensure that what happened to me should never be allowed to happen again.’
A picture previously shared by Mr Hedge’s wife, Ms Tejada, as she celebrated the news of his release from custody in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)