U.K. student Matthew Hedges sentenced to life in UAE over spying allegations

Click to play video: 'Britain working hard to free UK academic jailed for life in UAE, his wife says' Britain working hard to free UK academic jailed for life in UAE, his wife says
WATCH ABOVE: Daniela Tejada says the British government is working very hard to help her husband Matthew Hedges after he was sentenced to life in prison for spying allegations in the UEA – Nov 22, 2018

A UAE court sentenced British academic Matthew Hedges to life in prison on charges of spying on Wednesday, according to his family and a court statement carried by state-run newspaper The National.

The hearing lasted less than five minutes and his lawyer was not present, his family said.

U.K. Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said he was “deeply shocked and disappointed” by the verdict, adding that he had personally raised the case at the highest levels of the UAE government and that the verdict would hurt relations.

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He said the handling of the case by Emirati authorities would have repercussions on relations between the two countries.

Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, has been held in the UAE since May 5, when he was arrested at Dubai International Airport after a two-week research visit.

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“I am in complete shock and I don’t know what to do. Matthew is innocent,” said Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, who was present in the courtroom.

A Reuters journalist was barred from entering, which was closed to the public.

A life sentence for a non-Emirati entails a maximum of 25 years in jail and is followed by deportation, according to The National. The court ruled that his devices and research would be confiscated, the newspaper reported.WATCH BELOW: Dubai police unveil new law enforcement drone
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Emirati authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.Hedges was released on bail in late October, but had been held in solitary confinement for five months before that, his family said.

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