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UAE pardons jailed British academic

Matthew Hedges, the British PhD student who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates on charges of spying, has been granted clemency.

Hedges was granted a pardon by UAE president Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan on 26 November, following a letter from Hedges’ family seeking clemency. The pardon was part of a mass clemency of more than 700 prisoners issued by the president to celebrate UAE’s upcoming National Day. Hedges is expected to be released immediately.

Despite granting clemency, the UAE government reiterated its belief that Hedges is guilty of spying. Jaber al-Lamki, an official at the UAE’s National Media Council, alleged at a press conference in Abu Dhabi that Hedges worked for a private intelligence company, which led to his recruitment by MI6, the UK Secret Intelligence Service, according to media reports. At the press conference, footage of Hedges purportedly admitting to being an officer for MI6 was shown.

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