Matthew Hedges, the British academic jailed for life for spying in the UAE has been pardoned, officials confirmed on Monday morning.
The 31-year-old was jailed last week, though news of the Durham University researcher’s pardon came amid Emirati officials releasing a video of him apparently confessing he is a captain in MI6.
Responding to the news, his wife Daniela Tejada said: “The family and I welcome the news of the presidential pardon and cannot wait to have Matt back home.”
Fantastic news about Matthew Hedges.Although we didn’t agree with charges we are grateful to UAE govt for resolving issue speedily.But also a bittersweet moment as we remember Nazanin &other innocent ppl detained in Iran.Justice won’t be truly done until they too are safely home.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) November 26, 2018
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. 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.”
In a statement at the UAE embassy in London on Friday, ambassador Sulaiman Almazroui praised the closeness between the two nations as he said clemency was being considered for the “extremely serious case”.
It followed comments by Abdulla Al Naqbi, the head of the foreign ministry’s legal department – who said that “compelling and powerful evidence” had proved espionage, including computer analysis and an alleged confession.
Hedges, originally from Exeter, was arrested at Dubai Airport as he tried to leave the country on 5 May following a two-week visit.
Professor Stuart Corbridge, vice-chancellor of Durham University, said there is “no reason to believe that Matt was conducting anything other than legitimate academic research”.
Hedges was given 30 days to challenge the court ruling, and Tejada launched a petition on Change.org which gathered more than 160,000 signatures.
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