A British Ph.D. student who was held for nearly seven months in the United Arab Emirates—after being accused of spying—has described the psychological torture he endured. Matthew Hedges, 31, was fed a cocktail of Xanax and Valium, interrogated for as much as 15 hours a day, threatened with physical torture, and offered leniency if he agreed to spy on the U.K. for the UAE. Explaining why he signed a false confession in Arabic that he could not understand, he said: “They started getting more and more aggressive and I’d have panic attacks for two or three days in a row. After all that pressure, I said: ‘OK, fine, whatever, yeah, sure.’” His ordeal began at Dubai airport. After saying goodbye to his mother, he was approached by state security officials bearing a blindfold and handcuffs. “The scary reality is, if I hadn’t gone with my mother, or if they’d decided to pick me up after going through the gate, no one would have known where I was,” he told The Times. He was pardoned and released last week.
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