Durham spy accused Matthew Hedges appears in court in United Arab Emirates

Matthew Hedges and wife Daniela Tejada.
Matthew Hedges and wife Daniela Tejada.

A British academic accused of spying in the United Arab Emirates has appeared in court after five months in solitary confinement.

Matthew Hedges, a PhD student at Durham University, went to the UAE to interview sources about the country's foreign policy and security strategy.

The 31-year-old was detained at Dubai Airport on May 5 and his family said he has been held in solitary confinement since then.

Mr Hedges appeared at the Federal Court of Appeal in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. He denies spying for the UK Government.

His lawyer requested an adjournment and the next hearing is due to take place on November 21.

Mr Hedges' wife, Daniela Tejada, said: "It pains me to think that by his next court hearing, Matt will have been detained for over six months for carrying out legitimate academic research."

She added: "Matt is an innocent man. He was in the UAE to finish his PhD. The evidence will undoubtedly show this."

His family said they have only been allowed to visit him twice since he was detained "with no explanation".

His treatment has "improved a little" and he has now been taken for an external medical assessment, Ms Tejada said.

In a joint statement, Durham and Exeter Universities said they are "deeply concerned" for Mr Hedges' welfare and that he is suffering from "significant health issues".

Mr Hedges completed a masters degree in Middle East Studies at Exeter and began working on his PhD at Durham in 2013.