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Matthew Hedges: British academic freed from UAE concerned for detained UK football fan | World News

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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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Scientists prove bathing 90 minutes before bed helps sleep | Science & Tech News

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Scientists have proven that taking a bath 90 minutes before going to bed can help you get a better night’s sleep.

Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin analysed thousands of studies on “water-based passive body heating” or bathing and showering with hot water.

The biomedical engineers found that bathing between one and two hours before bedtime in water between 40C (105F) and 42C (109F) can significantly improve sleep.

“When we looked through all known studies, we noticed significant disparities in terms of the approaches and findings,” said Shahab Haghayegh, a PhD candidate and lead author on the paper.

“The only way to make an accurate determination of whether sleep can in fact be improved was to combine all the past data and look at it through a new lens.”

The team published its paper in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews after analysing 5,322 studies.

A lot of the science proving how a bath or shower improves sleep is already established.

Both sleep and core temperature in humans are regulated by something called the circadian clock, which is located within the brain’s hypothalamus which sets the pattern for our bodily functions.

Our body temperature is closely involved in regulating our sleep, and our temperatures can be up to three degrees Fahrenheit higher in the late afternoon and early evening than when we sleep.

BathtubHAMBURG, GERMANY - JANUARY 13: A rubber duck swims in a foam bath in a bath tub on January 13, 2007 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo Illustration by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
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Baths around 40C (105F) are ideal

As our temperature rises during the night it works like a kind of biological alarm clock which ultimately disrupts our sleeping.

According to the researchers: “The temperature cycle leads the sleep cycle and is an essential factor in achieving rapid sleep onset and high efficiency sleep.”

They discovered that perfect timing between having a bath and our core body temperature cooling down to improve sleep quality is 90 minutes.

“Warm baths and showers stimulate the body’s thermoregulatory system, causing a marked increase in the circulation of blood from the internal core of the body to the peripheral sites of the hands and feet, resulting in efficient removal of body heat and decline in body temperature,” according to the researchers.

“Therefore, if baths are taken at the right biological time, 1-2 hours before bedtime, they will aid the natural circadian process and increase one’s chances of not only falling asleep quickly but also of experiencing better quality sleep.”

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India launches rocket to far side of moon – just days after aborted take-off | World News

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India’s space agency has launched an unmanned spacecraft to the far side of the moon just a week after aborting the mission due to a technical problem.

The Chandrayaan rocket lifted off from a site in Sriharikota, off the Bay of Bengal, as scheduled at 2.43pm local time (10.13am UK time) on Monday.

Named after the Sanskrit word for mooncraft, Chandrayaan is designed to land on the lunar south pole in September and send a rover to explore water deposits that were confirmed by a 2008 mission which orbited the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan-2 (Moon Chariot 2), on board the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-mark III-M1), launches in Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh on July 22, 2019
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The rocket was launched off the Bay of Bengal

Last week’s launch of the $141m (£113m) mission was called off less than an hour before lift-off due to a “technical snag”.

Media reports said it was aborted after a leak was discovered while filling helium in the rocket’s cryogenic engine.

The space agency neither confirmed nor denied the reports, saying instead that the problem had been identified and corrected.

The spacecraft is carrying an orbiter, a lander and a rover that will move around on the lunar surface for 14 earth days.

The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan-2 (Moon Chariot 2), on board the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-mark III-M1), launches in Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh on July 22, 2019
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Chandrayaan is named after the Sanskrit word for mooncraft

It will take about 47 days to travel before landing on the moon in September.

India, which put a satellite into orbit around Mars in the nation’s first interplanetary mission in 2013 and 2014, plans to send its first manned spaceflight by 2022.

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Stena Impero: Crew seen in first pictures from inside UK-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran | World News

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The crew of a British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran in the Gulf have been pictured inside the vessel for the first time since armed soldiers took control.

Some of the 23 personnel stationed aboard the Stena Impero are seen working in the kitchen and assembled around a table, while others are visible near the windows on one of the decks, looking up towards an official stood in-front of them alongside a large pile of shoes.

Tehran had already released video footage of the moment on Friday that members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard rappelled on to the vessel, which is now being held at the Bandar Abbas port.

Iran has said the crew are in 'good health'
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Iran has said the crew are in ‘good health’
There are 23 people in the crew
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There are 23 people in the crew

Those on-board the Swedish-owned, European-operated tanker are from India, Latvia, Russia and the Philippines – and all are said to be in “good health”.

Among the crew is Dijo Pappachan, from Kochi, India, whose parents have said they are “shocked” by the situation.

His father, TV Pappachan, told the Khaleej Times newspaper: “He called and spoke with his mother on Thursday morning saying he is on his way to Saudi Arabia from Dubai. To our utter shock, we got a call from his company the next day saying the ship is under Iran’s custody.

“I am not speaking only for my son. All the 23 crew members set sail to foreign countries for work. They are on-board to make a living. We are all praying for the entire crew’s safe return.”

Stena Impero
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Some of the crew of the Stena Impero can be seen in this picture from inside the vessel
The crew of can be seen working in the kitchen
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The crew can be seen working in the kitchen

The crew had been expecting to arrive in the Saudi Arabian industrial city of Jubail on Sunday, having departed Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

As it passed westward through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, it was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter, from which troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard rappelled on to the vessel to seize control.

The vessel’s course shifted north towards the Iranian coast.

Dijo Pappachan
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Dijo Pappachan is among the crew aboard the vessel
Deena and TV Pappachan, whose son is among the crew
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Deena and TV Pappachan, whose son is among the crew

Some 40 minutes later, there was a similar course shift by the UK-operated, Liberian-flagged Mesdar.

That crew was allowed to continue their voyage a few hours later after the ship was boarded by armed guards.









Moment Iranian troops board tanker

The seizure of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz has sparked widespread condemnation in the UK, with a Cobra emergency committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said it looked like Iran was choosing a “dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour”, but wants a “diplomatic solution” to the dispute.

He is due to update the House of Commons on the situation, with sanctions against Iran for its “illegal interference” said to be on the cards.

Ministers are reportedly considering freezing Iranian regime assets, which will exacerbate tensions that have been on a rapid rise since US sanctions came into effect at the start of May.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas
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Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero

It began when two US oil tankers in the region were attacked on 13 June, with Iran denying it was to blame after the regime was accused by Donald Trump.

Britain has since become embroiled in a tit-for-tat of its own, starting with the involvement of Royal Marines in the seizure of an Iranian supertanker near Gibraltar due to suspicions it was carrying oil to the Syrian regime.

Bob Seely MP, from the foreign affairs committee, has said the situation constitutes a “massive crisis” that will only grow unless there is “an Iranian nuclear deal that gets the US back in it”.

President Trump has said he "was not happy" about what the crowd had to say.
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Iran has blamed Donald Trump for the heightened tensions in the Gulf

Mr Trump took the US out of the international agreement earlier this year, and its remaining Western backers fear it will soon collapse.

The deal – considered one of the most significant foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration – was designed to see Iran eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and reduce the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.



Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt MP has been in a Cobra meeting discussing what 'further measures' will be taken







Hunt to Iran: ‘We need that ship released’

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has blamed the US for the current situation in the Gulf, saying Washington wants to drag the UK “into a quagmire”.

Meanwhile, Iran claims it has broken up a CIA spying ring and sentenced some of the 17 suspects to death.

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