The United Arab Emirates on Monday pardoned and released British academic Matthew Hedges jailed for life on spying charges.
The academic secured the pardon as the UAE granted a request for clemency after showing a video of him purportedly confessing to membership of the UK’s MI6 intelligence service, reports Reuters.
The case has strained ties between the long-time allies, leading London to issue a forceful diplomatic response after last week’s verdict was handed down, with a warning that it could hurt relations.
The UAE president issued the pardon as part of a mass clemency of more than 700 prisoners to mark the country’s National Day, according to a statement on state news agency WAM.
The pardon was effective immediately and Matthew Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student at Durham University held for more than six months, will be allowed to leave the country “once formalities are completed,” the statement said.
A UAE official later said Hedges lad been freed.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the move, which he called “fantastic news”.
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