Earlier this week, PhD student Matthew Hedges (pictured here with his wife Daniela Tejada) was jailed for life in the United Arab Emirates after being accused of acting as a British government spy.
In response to Matthew Hedges' sentencing, ECPR Chair Kris Deschouwer has issued the following statement:
'The ECPR is deeply shocked and concerned by the news that Matthew Hedges, a political scientist from Durham University, has been sentenced to life in prison in the United Arab Emirates after being found guilty of allegedly "spying on behalf of the UK government".
Matthew Hedges had been conducting interviews in the UAE for his PhD research on the role of civil-military relations in the UAE following the Arab Spring. He had permission to be in the country to conduct interviews with officials who were knowledgeable about civil-military relations in the Emirates. Yet he was arrested at Dubai Airport on 5 May 2018, detained in conditions that breached his human rights and then, on 21 November, sentenced to life imprisonment. Yet, there has been no proper justification or information provided to explain the basis for this sentence and no reason to believe that Matthew was conducting anything other than legitimate academic research.
The ECPR is very worried about this obvious violation of the right to conduct academic research and enquiry free from undue interference, especially when it concerns a political scientist from one of its member institutions (the University of Durham), and we therefore call on the government of the UAE to release Matthew Hedges immediately and to respect fully the principle of academic freedom.'
Keywords: International Relations, Freedom