Matthew Hedges: UAE Considering Clemency For British Academic Jailed For Spying

The London ambassador defended the trial.
Matthew Hedges and his wife Daniela Tejada
Matthew Hedges and his wife Daniela Tejada

The UAE’s London ambassador has defended the trial of British academic Matthew Hedges, but said his government is studying a request for clemency made by his family.

Sulaiman Almazaroui said: “Matthew Hedges was not convicted after a five-minute show trial, as some have reported.

“Over the course of one month, three judges evaluated compelling evidence in three hearings. They reached their conclusions after a full and proper process. This was an extremely serious case.

“We live in a dangerous neighbourhood and national security must be a top priority. Mr Hedges’ family have made a request for clemency and the government is studying that request.

“British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had a good conversation yesterday with our foreign minister.”

He stressed the two nations’ close ties, adding: “Because of the strength of that relationship we are hopeful that an amicable solution can be reached.”

Diplomatic efforts to free the PhD student were being led by Hunt amid an outcry after the 31-year-old was jailed for life earlier this week.

The Durham University researcher’s wife, Daniela Tejada, said she had won assurances from Hunt that the government is “now standing up for” her husband, after she claimed it had initially put foreign relations above his liberty.

There were hopes the Gulf state will show some leniency after an official said the nation wants to find an “amicable solution”.

However the official – Abdulla Al Naqbi, the head of the foreign ministry’s legal department – added that “compelling and powerful evidence” had proved espionage, including computer analysis and an alleged confession.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, vice-chancellor of Durham University, said there is “no reason to believe that Matt was conducting anything other than legitimate academic research”.

Hedges was given 30 days to challenge the court ruling, and Tejada has launched a petition on which has gathered more than 160,000 signatures.

Hedges, originally from Exeter, was arrested at Dubai Airport as he tried to leave the country on May 5.


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