Britain welcomes UAE pardon for jailed academic

The United Arab Emirates on Monday pardoned a British academic jailed for life on spying charges, granting his family's request for clemency minutes after showing a video of him purportedly confessing to being a member of UK intelligence agency MI6.
The United Arab Emirates said it had pardoned Matthew Hedges minutes after showing a video of him purportedly confessing to being a member of Britain's intelligence agency MI6.
The United Arab Emirates said it had pardoned Matthew Hedges minutes after showing a video of him purportedly confessing to being a member of Britain's intelligence agency MI6.PHOTO: DANIELA TEJADA

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain said it was grateful to the United Arab Emirates on Monday (Nov 26) after it pardoned a British academic jailed on spying charges.

The UAE said it had pardoned Matthew Hedges just minutes after showing a video of him purportedly confessing to being a member of Britain's intelligence agency MI6. Britain has denied he was a spy.

"Fantastic news about Matthew Hedges," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. "Although we didn't agree with charges we are grateful to UAE government for resolving issue speedily."

Hunt said it was also a "bittersweet moment" because he was thinking about innocent people still detained in Iran.

"Justice won't be truly done until they too are safely home," Hunt said.

Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, was sentenced last week in a move described as deeply disappointing by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

He was arrested on May 5 after a two-week research visit.