Matthew Hedges: British academic pardoned by UAE

Matthew Hedges is released from jail despite the United Arab Emirates maintaining he is a spy.

A British academic who was jailed for spying in the United Arab Emirates has been freed after a pardon.

Matthew Hedges, 31, denied spying and said he had been researching his PhD.

His wife, Daniela Tejada, who appealed for clemency, said she was “elated” and “can’t wait to have him back home”.

The UAE issued the pardon as part of a series of orders on the country’s National Day anniversary. However, a spokesman said Mr Hedges was “100% a secret service operative”.

Mr Hedges is out of detention and on his way to the British embassy in the UAE, a family spokeswoman said.

BBC Arabic special correspondent Feras Kilani said Mr Hedges was due to fly back to London tonight.

Latest reaction to the pardoning

During a news conference, a video was shown of a purported confession from Mr Hedges saying he was a member of MI6.

This accusation was rejected by Ms Tejada, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s taken me by surprise and I’m just so happy and so relieved and really incredulous that it is all happening finally.

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