Britain today said it was grateful to the United Arab Emirates after it pardoned a British academic jailed on spying charges.
The UAE said it had pardoned Matthew Hedges as part of its annual National Day amnesties just minutes after showing a video of him purportedly confessing to being a member of Britain’s intelligence agency MI6. Britain has denied he was a spy.
“Fantastic news about Matthew Hedges,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. “Although we didn’t agree with charges we are grateful to UAE government for resolving issue speedily.”
— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) November 26, 2018
Hedges’ release is part of a UAE National Day pardon of 785 prisoners.
Commenting on the verdict and Presidential Pardon, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash said: “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,” the statement continued.
Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, has been held in the UAE since 5 May, when he was arrested at Dubai International Airport after a two-week research visit. He was handed a life term last week.