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UAE issues pardon for British scholar Matthew Hedges
November 26, 2018, 12:11 pm

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has issued a presidential pardon for British scholar Matthew Hedges, with immediate effect. Hedges, 31, was pardoned as part of the UAE's national day clemency, state media reported on Monday.

Authorities made the announcement about Hedges in a hastily called news conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital. They said UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued the clemency for Hedges on Sunday along with hundreds of others.

The scholar will be permitted to leave the UAE "once formalities are completed", an official statement said. The announcement came after authorities showed journalists a video of Hedges purportedly saying he was a captain in British intelligence.

Emirati authorities had come under increasing international pressure since Hedges was handed a life sentence last week.

In the video, Hedges, a doctoral 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.

Another clip appears to show Hedges speaking to someone in an office and saying: "It helps the research to go in in an easy way."

Then, Hedges is seen snapping his fingers and adds: "Then it becomes MI-6."

Emirati officials did not allow journalists to record the video.

In a statement regarding the pardon, issued to WAM news agency, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash said: "It was always a UAE hope that this matter would be resolved through the common channels of our longstanding partnership. This was a straightforward matter that became unnecessarily complex despite the UAE’s best efforts."

The UK's foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a Tweet it was "fantastic news" and that the UK was "grateful" the issue was resolved.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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