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A British academic who endured solitary confinement in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has told Sky News he is concerned about a British football fan detained in the Gulf State.

Matthew Hedges was speaking out more than two and a half weeks after Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, was arrested while on holiday in the country from his home in Wolverhampton.

“I am [concerned] because it shows there is a manipulation of the law to suit political means, to make the point and say ‘we don’t like this type of behaviour so we are going to do as we will’,” Mr Hedges, 31, said.

Mr Ahmad, a dual British-Sudanese national, 26, was arrested in Sharjah emirate on 22 January, reportedly for wearing a Qatar shirt to a football match – considered an offence in the UAE.

The Gulf state denies this was the case.

Ali Issa Ahmad was arrested on 22 January in the UAE
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Ali Issa Ahmad was arrested on 22 January in the UAE

Its embassy in London says he turned up at a police station falsely claiming to have been beaten up for wearing the shirt when actually he inflicted the injuries on himself

It says he has admitted to making false statements and wasting police time.

It is understood that Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, is closely following Mr Ahmad’s case.

Mr Hedges, however, says he has little faith in the UAE’s justice system.

Mr Ahmad had gone to see the Asian Cup quarter final between Qatar and Iraq
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Mr Ahmad had gone to see the Asian Cup quarter final between Qatar and Iraq

It is a view shared by his Colombian wife, Daniela Tejeda, 27, who fought a hugely successful public campaign to help secure her husband’s release.

“A confession should not be the sole determinant to a case being opened let alone to someone being sentenced,” she said, sitting with Mr Hedges on a park bench in London.

“We don’t know what conditions he (Mr Ahmad) is being kept in or what he is being told in order to confess so unless there is hard evidence there is absolutely no reason why he should be held.”

Mr Hedges, who is working on his PhD at Durham University, says he was forced while detained in the UAE to confess falsely to being an MI6 officer or face torture.

Matthew Hedges and his wife Daniela Tejada
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Matthew Hedges and his wife Daniela Tejada

His ordeal only ended in November when he was pardoned after diplomatic pressure from the foreign secretary.

But Mr Hedges and his wife want to know if a desire to keep good relations with the UAE stopped Britain from acting faster to help him.

They would like the foreign office to conduct an internal review in its handling of the case.

“The question I would ask is: Are there any other vested interests here which may have slowed this process down or deliberately inhibited it?” he asked.

Mr Hedges continued: “This is something that we are trying to look into more. We have requested an FOI [freedom of information request] for information regarding my case.”

Mr Hedge's wife, Daniela Tejeda, fought to get her husband released
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Daniela Tejeda fought to get her husband released

He thinks the UK may have had to do a similar kind of diplomatic balancing act with him and the UAE as it did when handling its close relationship with Saudi Arabia at the same time as responding to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The idea of the UAE or wider Gulf influence in the UK decision making structure I think is very unhealthy,” Mr Hedges said.

“We have a certain set of values and standards we like to try and live by and we should continue to do this without interruption.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman highlighted the “extensive support” staff provided in Mr Hedges’s case, including from Mr Hunt.

Matthew Hedges was jailed by the UAE on spying charges while researching for his PhD
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Matthew Hedges was jailed by the UAE on spying charges while researching for his PhD

Mr Hedges says he is working with the government to get his spy conviction quashed as it taints his reputation and makes it difficult to travel.

“It sounds good if you are going to go down the pub or something but the reality is a lot stronger, has quite a harsh meaning,” he said.

“It means part of my integrity is always questioned, it means my academic research will always be questioned.”

The conviction of an innocent man for spying is also a sign that anyone could encounter the same problem should they travel to the UAE, he added.

As for foreign travel, much of the world is now out of bounds.

“You have to say ‘what type of countries would be very interested in a convicted British spy’?

“Middle East, North Africa, Russia and former Soviet states, China – any authoritarian state in the world that can act with impunity, that acts without a legal justice and that acts arbitrarily.

“It is something we have to take even more seriously now with our own personal safety.”

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Iranian oil tanker at centre of US power struggle departs Gibraltar | World News

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The Iranian oil tanker which has been detained off Gibraltar since early last month is now departing the British territory.

The Adrian Darya 1, previously known as the Grace 1, left anchorage off the British territory at around 11pm local time, Refinitiv shipping data showed. Its destination was not immediately clear.

It came hours after Gibraltar rejected a US request to detain the vessel further.

Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, earlier tweeted: “With the arrival of two specialised engineering teams to Gibraltar… the vessel is expected to leave tonight”.

The vessel – suspected of breaching US sanctions – has been in Gibraltar since 4 July amid speculation that it planned to transport its cargo to Syria, in breach of European Union sanctions.

The tanker has been renamed the Adrian Darya-1
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The tanker has been renamed the Adrian Darya-1

The detention of the vessel prompted Iran to retaliate by seizing the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, heightening already increased tensions in the region.

Earlier, Iran threatened to dispatch its naval fleet to collect the vessel.

“The era of hit and run is over,” said Iran’s navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi.

He added: “If top authorities ask the navy, we are ready to escort our tanker Adrian,” the Mehr news agency reported.

The authorities in Gibraltar said they had rejected a renewed request from the US to keep the tanker under detention.

It comes after the US had issued a warrant to seize the Adrian Darya-1 on Saturday.

The US said it could seize the vessel, its oil cargo, and almost $1m (£823,000) on the grounds of terrorism and violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

It claimed the tanker had links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which it deems a terrorist organisation.

But in a statement earlier today, Gibraltar’s government said US sanctions had no equivalent in the UK or the rest of the EU.

“The EU sanctions regime against Iran… is much narrower than that applicable in the US,” it said.

“The Gibraltar Central Authority is unable seek an Order of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar to provide the restraining assistance required by the United States of America.”

Video and photographs showed the tanker flying the red, green and white flag of Iran and bearing its new name, painted in white, on the hull.

The impounding of the vessel sparked a diplomatic row that escalated when Tehran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf two weeks later. That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still detained.

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Donald Trump confirms interest in buying Greenland in ‘large real estate deal’ | World News

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Donald Trump has confirmed he is interested in buying Greenland, saying it would be “essentially a large real estate deal”.

Asked about reports that he was exploring the purchase of the 850,000 sq mile island from Denmark, the US president said he was “looking at it” as “strategically for the US it would be nice”.

Mr Trump’s interest in the Danish territory emerged this week when he reportedly discussed it in a private meeting with advisers.

Danish politicians poured scorn on the idea, with former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen describing it as an “April Fool’s Day joke”.

However, that does not appear to have put Mr Trump off.

Speaking to reporters in New Jersey, he said: “It is something we talked about. Denmark essentially owns it, we are very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world.

A man walks to his boat past a number of abandoned and dry-docked boats in the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "JACKSON TASIILAQ" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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Greenland is situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans

“The concept came up – strategically it would be interesting. We’ll talk to them a little bit, it is not number one on the burner at the minute I can tell you that.

“Alot of things could be done, essentially it is a large real estate deal. It’s hurting Denmark very badly because they are losing almost $700m a year carrying it.”

America has had an air base in Greenland for decades as part of its global network of missile radars and space surveillance.

The island’s foreign ministry tweeted on Friday: “#Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism.

“We’re open for business, not for sale.”

Mr Trump is due to visit Denmark in September as part of a European trip but any attempt to raise the idea of buying the huge island is likely to be shot down.

Before Mr Trump confirmed he was interested in buying Greenland, Soren Espersen, a foreign affairs spokesperson for the Danish People’s Party, told broadcaster DR that if he was serious about the idea it would be “final proof that he has gone mad”.

“The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous,” he added.

Martin Lidegaard, an MP for the Danish Social Liberal Party and former foreign minister, called the idea “a grotesque proposal”.

“We are talking about real people and you can’t just sell Greenland like an old colonial power,” he said.

It is not the first time a US president has raised the idea of purchasing the island.

In 1946, president Harry Truman offered to buy Greenland for $100m (£82.4m).

Greenland, a self-ruling part of Denmark, is dependant on Danish economic support and is situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

It handles its own domestic affairs, while Copenhagen heads it defence and foreign policy.



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Trump ‘looking at’ buying Greenland despite opposition, adviser confirms | World News

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Donald Trump’s economic adviser has confirmed that the US president “wants to take a look at” buying Greenland.

His interest in the Danish territory emerged this week when he reportedly discussed it in a private meeting with advisers.

Danish politicians poured scorn on the idea, but Trump adviser Larry Kudlow has confirmed it was not a joke.

He told US show Fox News Sunday that Greenland is a “strategic place” with a “lot of valuable minerals”.

A man walks to his boat past a number of abandoned and dry-docked boats in the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "JACKSON TASIILAQ" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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Greenland has a population of about 56,000

“I don’t want to predict an outcome,” said Mr Kudlow. “I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a Greenland purchase.”

He added: “Look, it’s an interesting story. It’s developing, we’re looking at it.”

America has had an air base in Greenland for decades as part of its global network of missile radars and space surveillance.

The island’s foreign ministry tweeted on Friday: “#Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism.

“We’re open for business, not for sale.”

President Trump is due to visit Denmark in September as part of a European trip but any attempt to raise the idea of buying the huge island is likely to be shot down.

Denmark’s former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who left office in June, laughed off the reports this week.

He said: “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke…but totally our of sesson!” [sic].

Soren Espersen, a foreign affairs spokesperson for the Danish People’s Party, told broadcaster DR that if Mr Trump was serious, it would be “final proof that he has gone mad”.

“The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous,” he added.

Martin Lidegaard, an MP for the Danish Social Liberal Party and former foreign minister, called the idea “a grotesque proposal”.

“We are talking about real people and you can’t just sell Greenland like an old colonial power,” he said.

It is not the first time a US president has raised the idea of purchasing the island.

In 1946, president Harry Truman offered to buy Greenland for $100m (£82.4m).

Greenland, a self-ruling part of Denmark, is dependant on Danish economic support and is situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

It handles its own domestic affairs, while Copenhagen heads it defence and foreign policy.



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