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Durham University are boycotting UAE after the jailing of Matthew Hedges

They’ve suspended all field research there


Durham University have cut academic ties with the UAE, suspending all student and staff research travel to the region.

This comes after Matthew Hedges, a research PhD student, was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly spying whilst on a research trip to UAE in June.

Prof John Williams, head of the school of government and international affairs, has said that “as a department we’ve had the moratorium in place for some time and that’s now a university-wide moratorium on staff and student research travel to the UAE. The only students of ours going to the UAE now are citizens from the UAE.”

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Durham’s VC commented that Prof Stuart Corbridge emailed staff saying: “We are advising a moratorium on all travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for our non-UAE staff and students until Matt is safely back home.”

Durham have released a statement to say: "It is absolutely vital that academics the world over are free to conduct legitimate research without fear of interference or arrest."

Exeter and Birmingham have also cut academic ties with the UAE, with Birmingham choosing not to provide any academic support to its new Dubai campus.

Over 650 academics have signed an online petition calling for Hedges release which calls into "question existing and future academic ties between the UK and the UAE. British scholars can no longer regard the Emirates as a safe place for legitimate academic research." A petition started by Hedges's wife has received over 200,000.

Hedges was visiting the UAE last month to research his PhD when he was arrested at Dubai Airport for allegedly spying on behalf of the British government. Last week it was announced that he was sentenced to life imprisonment, a sentence which he has 30 days to appeal.

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