A British academic has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of spying in the United Arab Emirates after a trial that reportedly took less than five minutes and didn’t allow him access to a lawyer. Matthew Hedges, 31, denies the charge and said he was conducting research when he was arrested in Dubai on May 5, but a court in Abu Dhabi declared him guilty of “spying for or on behalf of” the British government. The BBC reports that foreign media were banned from the hearing and had to be told about the sentence from Hedges’ family. A family spokesman said: “The hearing lasted less than five minutes and his lawyer was not present.” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had raised the case with the “highest levels of the UAE government” and the verdict “is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances.” Hedges is reported to be in a poor state of mental health.
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