Six months after UK National Matthew Hedges was convicted for spying, the UAE Government issued a statement pardoning his life imprisonment sentence and permitting him to return to the UK.
Posing as an “academic researcher” from Durham University, Matthew Hedges was in Dubai for a two-week period to seek confidential and sensitive information about the UAE Government and the Royal family. He was referred to the public prosecution by an Emirati, after being approached by the 31-year old spy.
Hedges arrested at Dubai International Airport before departure
Prior to Hedges’ departure to the UK, police officials arrested him questioning his identity. He revealed he worked for the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and described his position as the “captain” in the organization, according to The National. He would approach people as an academic researcher, but all the information gathered goes to the organization.
Presidential pardon after appeal for clemency
In a statement by the UAE Government, Hedges was pardoned from life imprisonment after appealing for mercy in a personal letter to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. A Presidential pardon was offered in line with the occasion of the 47th UAE National Day, allowing the Briton to return home after completing formalities.
Hedges case a “straightforward matter”
UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash terms the case as a “straightforward matter,” but it turned out to become “unnecessarily complex” despite the country’s best efforts to resolve the diplomatic issue. He explained, “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.”
Hedges returns to the UK
After six months in the UAE, Hedges was cleared from life imprisonment sentence and returned to the UK this week. His wife, Daniela Tejada said, “The family and I welcome the news of the presidential pardon and cannot wait to have Matt back home.”
You can read the full statement here.