UAE Pardons British Academic Convicted of Spying

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In this undated family photo, Matthew Hedges is with his wife Daniela Tejada.  — AP

ABU DHABI (AP) — On Monday, the United Arab Emirates declared that they had pardoned British academic Matthew Hedges, who was awarded a life sentence after being convicted of spying. The announcement came after authorities showed journalists a video of Mr. Hedges purportedly saying he was a captain in British intelligence.

In the video, Mr. Hedges, a 31-year-old doctorate student in Middle Eastern studies at Durham University, is seen describing himself as a captain in MI-6 during what appears to be a court hearing in the Gulf Arab country.

According to the announcement, UAE President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued the clemency for Mr. Hedges on Sunday among hundreds of others. The Emirati authorities had come under increasing international pressure over Mr. Hedges’ life sentence which was handed down last week.

A news conference was hastily called in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital. An Emirati official giving the news conference was unavailable for comment.

Another clip shows Mr. Hedges speaking to someone in an office and saying: “It helps the research to go in an easy way.” Mr. Hedges is then seen snapping his fingers and adds, “Then it becomes MI-6.” Emirati officials did not permit journalists to record the video.

Authorities said Mr. Hedges would be allowed out of the country once procedures securing his release are completed.

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