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British academic Matthew Hedges jailed in UAE set for release Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

British academic Matthew Hedges jailed in UAE set for release

Matthew Hedges has been released [Twitter]

Date of publication: 26 November, 2018

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Conflicting reports over whether pardoned British PhD student Matthew Hedges has already been released.

British student Matthew Hedges - who was jailed in the UAE over allegations of spying - is set to be released from an Emirati prison after receiving a presidential pardoning, according to news sources.

It is not clear if Hedges has been released, but an Emirati official has stated that the PhD student - who was given a life sentence for allegedly spying in the UAE - has been freed, Sky News reported.

BBC Arabic correspondent also claimed Hedges had been released and will leave for London this evening, but his whereabouts is still unknown.

However, a spokesperson for Hedges' wife Daniela Tejada said: "He has not been released", according to the British broadcaster.

Hedges' planned release was alongside more than 700 prisoners who were pardoned by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan on the occasion of National Day, according to national news agency WAM.

Hedges' wife, Tejada, said she was "elated" and "can't wait to have him back home".

Last week, Hedges was given a life sentence over allegations of spying as a member of the British intelligence agency MI6, causing outrage.

The UAE showed a video of Hedges saying he was spy, and still insist that he works for British intelligence agency MI6, although supporters of the academic have said before that he was forced to sign a confession in Arabic.

At the time, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned of "repercussions" after the UAE’s decision.

"I am deeply shocked and disappointed," said Hunt, adding that the “verdict is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances."

"I regret the fact that we have reached this position and I urge the UAE to reconsider," he added.

Hunt welcomed the pardon of Hedges on Monday, but insisted that the UAE were wrong to accuse him of spying.

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