The announcement follows just a few days after the British Citizen was found guilty of the crime of spying
26 November 2018| Last updated on 24 July 2019
Just last week, Matthew Hedges - a British PHD student - was jailed for life for spying in the UAE.
Now, following an announcement made at a press conference in Abu Dhabi, the British academic will receive a Presidential Pardon by the UAE's President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Mr. Hedges was found guilty in the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals on Wednesday 21st November for the crime of spying for and on behalf of a foreign state, jeopardising the military, economic and political security of the UAE. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has since confirmed that following the Court's earlier verdict and sentencing, the family of Mr. Hedges appealed for clemency in a personal later to HH Sheikh Khalifa, which was conveyed by British consular staff to UAE authorities.
According to WAM, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs has subsequently announced that a Presidential Pardon has been issued with immediate effect by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.
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.
Commenting on the verdict and Presidential Pardon, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash said: "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."
Who is Matthew Hedges, and why was he convicted?
The 31 year old Durham University student and British academic was first arrested in the UAE for suspicions of spying on behalf of the UK government during a visit to the UAE and his research into the security strategies of the country.
He had been in the UAE for six months conducting research on the UAE's security strategy for his PHD, and since his arrest in May 2018, his wife and family have advocated for his innocence.
According to WAM, 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.