Matthew Hedges, who was accused of being a spy during a research trip in the UAE, has said he had suicidal thoughts after hearing cellmates going through physical torture.
The 31-year-old travelled to the UAE to research for his PhD, covering issues such as defence, security, international affairs and military policy in the Middle East.
But he was jailed in May for being a suspected spy, and was jailed for life in November only to be pardoned days later, fater months of "psychological torture."
In an interview with Good Morning Britain, he and his wife Daniela Tejada told Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid that he was never physically tortured, but overheard cell mates going through the horrendous ordeal as he struggled to cope with his confinement.
He said: "I actually heard people being tortured in the premises I was in. One time I went into a room and saw someone’s footprints on the wall, upside down, at about head-level, which could only have been there [because of torture.
"They do torture people in UAE, there have been examples of this happening ofer the last 10 years… this is something that does happen routinely.
"They threatened to illegally rendition me to an overseas military base where they would torture me…"
After he went to court, he was not returned to prison but to a holding cell where he was interrogated again, and realised his due process was gone.
He continued: "Those next few days [after his court sentencing] weren’t fun at all, especially as I returned from court the next day, I was interrogated again. I wasn’t taken back to prison but taken back to the same cell… I thought, ‘If there’s supposed to be some kind of due process, why am I back in the cell?’
"I didn’t know what to think for days. I had suicidal thoughts because nothing made sense, that wasn’t the only time I had suicidal thoughts but that was down the end of a black hole."
For Matthew, some of the toughest parts of his ordeal was being in solitary confinement, where he said he tried his best to cooperate in order to get the "glimmer of hope" of speaking to his wife Daniela for five minutes every week.
He continued: "[Being in solitary confinement was] Tough, really tough. Solitary confinement is such a hard ordeal and punishment to face. At the start I was allowed to have less than a five minute phone call, supervised, on loud speaker.
"Later I was allowed to speak to Dani every week for five minutes. I never wanted to upset that balance, I never wanted to change what I said because after that I’d look forward to the phonecall."
He went into hospital after some months in prison, and was then given a TV and a book to read.
But Matthew was given a harrowing choice before his pardon, where he said he was told: "I was given, in their words, ‘there were two paths ahead of me.’
"There was one of cooperation, one where they said they would commute my sentence, all I had to do was admit guilt and the other options was threats of torture of physical intimidation…
"What they were doing with the medicine, with isolation, with the threats, that felt like a form of torture."
Meanwhile his wife, Daniela, was campaigning for his release, but she also tried to play along with the authorities in order to see his release, but seeing his sentencing was "the hardest moment I have ever had to deal with."
She said: "No one ever prepares you for it [his sentencing]… but definitely not to see your husband sentenced to life in prison.
"It wasn’t easy at all, it’s probably the hardest moment I’ve ever had to live, I’ve always been very strong and resilient but those few hours after I heard about his sentence were complete madness.
"I genuninely didn’t know what I could do, I was desperate."
Now, her main focus is trying to help her husband’s name be cleared after he was pardoned by the UAE.
She added: "There is hope and I think that the whole point of tonight is to not just give Rich and Nazanin [Ratcliffe] hope but the families of many other victims of arbitrary imprisonment abroad.
"To let them know they’re not alone and they’re not forgotten. In the same way the public stood with me as a family to defend Matt, we will do the same. We will not let them be forgotten."
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.
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