British PhD student Matthew Hedges has been pardoned in the United Arab Emirates after the country shared a video of him purportedly confessing to spying.
The UAE said Hedges was ‘100 per cent a full-time secret services operative’ with footage is said to show Hedges admitting that he is a member of MI6.
The video claims that Hedges has admitted to approaching sources as a PhD student in the Middle East.
But today Mr Hedges was given clemency in a wave of pardons and will be able to leave the country.
At a press conference today (pictured) the UAE said it had video of British student Matthew Hedges confessing to being a spy, but said it had pardoned him
Mr Hedges, 31, was sentenced to life imprisonment when he appeared in court in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The Middle Eastern studies specialist from Durham University visited the country to research his PhD thesis and was arrested in Dubai Airport on May 5.
The researcher’s wife, Daniela Tejada, has lobbied the British government to push for his release.
The UAE has a history of issuing a wave of pardons in anticipation of its national day, which falls on December 2.
The country has said that ‘compelling and powerful evidence’ had proved espionage, including computer analysis and an alleged confession.
A law chief in the Gulf federation said the case had been ‘thoroughly investigated’ and warned the government ‘does not attempt to interfere in court cases’.
The UAE rejected claims that Mr Hedges was forced to sign a document in Arabic that has been used as the ‘confession’ and said he was provided with translators.
But UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had seen ‘absolutely no evidence’ to support prosecutors’ allegations that Mr Hedges was spying when he visited Dubai earlier this year.
Mr Hunt also threatened ‘serious diplomatic consequences’ if the student was not freed.
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’.
Matthew Hedges, 31, pictured with his wife Daniela Tejada, was sentenced to life imprisonment when he appeared in court in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday