Durham academic Matthew Hedges pardoned in UAE following spying charge

British academic Matthew Hedges, who was last week jailed for life in the United Arab Emirates on a spying charge, has been pardoned, an official in the UAE said.
Durham academic Matthew Hedges with his wife Daniela Tejada. Picture: PA.Durham academic Matthew Hedges with his wife Daniela Tejada. Picture: PA.
Durham academic Matthew Hedges with his wife Daniela Tejada. Picture: PA.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter: "Fantastic news about Matthew Hedges.

"Although we didn't agree with charges we are grateful to UAE government for resolving issue speedily.

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"But also a bittersweet moment as we remember Nazanin & other innocent people detained in Iran. Justice won't be truly done until they too are safely home."

The official Emirates News Agency reported that Mr Hedges, 31, a Durham University researcher who was arrested at Dubai Airport on May 5, was granted a presidential pardon with immediate effect after his family appealed for clemency.

The agency reported: "The customary National Day Presidential pardon includes Mr Hedges as part of a tranche of clemency orders issued on the occasion of the UAE's 47th National Day anniversary.

"Mr Hedges will be permitted to leave the UAE once formalities are completed."

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The agency quoted UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash saying: "His Highness the President's gracious clemency in the customary National Day pardons allows us to return our focus to the underlying fundamental strength of the UAE/UK bi-lateral relationship and its importance to the international community.

"It was always a UAE hope that this matter would be resolved through the common channels of our longstanding partnership. This was a straightforward matter that became unnecessarily complex despite the UAE's best efforts."

"The case against Mr Hedges was predicated on evidence secured from Mr Hedges' electronic devices; surveillance and intelligence gathering by UAE intelligence and security agencies; and evidence provided by Mr Hedges himself - including a corroborated account of asset recruitment and training and the confidential information being targeted.

"His recruitment and progress within a foreign intelligence service was authenticated to the court by UAE intelligence agencies.

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"The gracious Presidential customary National Day pardon allows us to close this chapter and to concentrate on the many positive aspects of the relationship."