The following letter was sent on November 25, 2018 in response to a petition conveyed to NYU President Andrew Hamilton on November 22, 2018 about Matthew Hedges.  Mr. Hedges was pardoned and released from UAE custody on November 26, 2018.

Dear Prof. Archer and colleagues,

Thank you for your letter which arrived on Thanksgiving morning. I am sure you appreciate that given the time of year it was difficult for me to respond sooner.

I fully register and understand your concerns over the case of Matthew Hedges, the student from Durham University who has been imprisoned in the UAE on spying charges. I do not have any additional information regarding the case beyond what is in the public domain. However, on behalf of NYU, I have spoken to senior officials in Abu Dhabi and understand that, as reported in the media, clemency is being sought and considered. I have also discussed the case with the Vice Chancellor of Durham University.  We all hope for a speedy resolution.

Academic freedom is the bedrock of all great universities. Throughout my 37-year academic career at Princeton, Pittsburgh, Yale, Oxford and, now, NYU, I have defended free enquiry and sought to extend academic freedom whether in my science lab or through later leadership positions. I would not have come to NYU had I not been assured, and then convinced myself, that the commitment to academic freedom at NYU and all its campuses within the Global Network is unwavering. This doesn’t mean that issues don’t arise, but when they do, we work assiduously to address them. This is another bedrock principle of NYU – that challenges are posed in each of our settings and locations (including the US), but that does not compromise our commitment to engage. The Global Network Committee comprising faculty from all academic disciplines pays very close attention to these issues and I have asked them to consider further this recent matter. My own visits to NYU AD and my conversations with faculty and students there have reinforced my belief that this is a university engaged in world class teaching and research in whatever areas they choose.

That said, the case of Matthew Hedges has my full attention and I am following it closely.

With best regards,

Andrew Hamilton