Senior official says the UAE and the UK hope to find 'amicable solution' in case of Matthew Hedges
Jailed Brit Matthew Hedges has been "treated fairly and according to the constitution of the UAE", a senior government official said on Thursday.
Abdulla Al Naqbi, head of the Department of Legal Affairs for the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in comments published by state news agency WAM that "compelling and powerful evidence" was presented in court, leading to the life sentence handed down on Wednesday.
Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD student, was researching the UAE's foreign and internal security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011 when he was detained at Dubai airport on May 5 and subsequently convicted of spying,
Al Naqbi said: "The UAE respects the rule of law and is committed to upholding the highest judicial standards. Like all countries with an independent judiciary it is vital that the government does not attempt to interfere in court cases. We cannot give assurances to other countries about the outcome of trials.
"Contrary to media reports, Matthew Hedges has been treated fairly and according to the constitution of the UAE. We are proud to have a system of justice that gives everyone the right to a fair trial.
"Our system also takes care to protect the welfare and physical wellbeing of suspects. Mr Hedges has had access to medical and psychological care throughout. Members of his family and British Embassy staff were allowed to see him during the pre-trial phase."
He added: "The crimes Mr Hedges was accused of are extremely serious. For the UAE, like all countries, protecting our national security must be our first priority.
"Under the law of UAE anyone convicted by a court has the right to appeal the decision within 30 days. Families also have the right to appeal for Presidential clemency on behalf of convicted relatives.
"The UAE is determined to protect its important strategic relationship with a key ally. Officials from both countries have discussed the matter regularly over recent months. Both sides hope to find an amicable solution to the Matthew Hedges case."