Matthew Hedges

British student Matthew Hedges has been sentenced to life in prison in the United Arab Emirates for spying, according to Reuters.

Mr Hedges, 31, a Durham University PhD student, had been detained as he was leaving Dubai Airport on 5 May.

Authorities said his research in the country for his thesis on security policies after the Arab Spring was a “cover” for carrying out surveillance for the UK government.

There had been hopes that he would be granted freedom after he was released on bail at the end of last month.

The UAE’s federal court of appeal had postponed hearing his case until Wednesday to re-examine its evidence, with Mr Hedges allowed out of jail without his passport until the hearing date.

Two Reuters sources and an AFP family source said Mr Hedges had been jailed for life.

A family spokesperson told AFP: “We can confirm that he was sentenced to life in prison. The hearing lasted less than five minutes, and his lawyer was not present.”

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