British academic freed in UAE returns UK

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – British academic Matthew Hedges who was prisoned for life in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on espionage charges but released from jail Monday after a “gracious clemency” arrived the U.K. on Tuesday.

“I don’t know where to begin with thanking people securing my release,” Hedges said on his arrival.

“Thank you so much to British Embassy and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the efforts in ensuring I arrived safely back home,” he added.

Abu Dhabi’s Federal Appeals Court sentenced 31-year-old academic to life in prison (25 years), who was convicted on spying and providing foreign parties with sensitive information last week, but he was freed on Monday after receiving a pardon from the UAE officials.

Hedges, a PhD student from Durham University, had been in a UAE prison for more than six months upon his arrest at the Dubai International Airport in May before boarding a flight to the U.K. after a two-week working visit to the UAE.

In October, the Emirati authorities referred Hedges to Abu Dhabi’s Federal Appeals Court on charges of passing on sensitive military, political and economic information to a foreign entity.

He worked on the effects of Arab Spring on the UAE’s foreign policies as a subject for a thesis, according to the local media reports.