UAE pardons Briton Matthew Hedges after spying life sentence

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt expressed his gratitude to the UAE for the release of student Matthew Hedges (pictured right) and his wife Daniela Tejada posing in London after Daniela's MA Graduation ceremony. (File/HO/Daniela Tejada/AFP)
Updated 26 November 2018

UAE pardons Briton Matthew Hedges after spying life sentence

  • Matthew Hedges receives presidential pardon as part of UAE National Day celebrations
  • Government spokesman says Hedges was "100%" full time secret service operative

DUBAI: The British national jailed for life in the UAE for spying has been granted a presidential pardon with immediate effect.

Matthew Hedges was detained on May 5 and was sentenced to life in prison by a UAE court on Nov. 21, 2018.

Reacting to the news his wife Daniele Tejada, who maintains that he was innocent, said she was “absolutely elated” that he had received a pardon, adding that she “cannot wait to have Matt back home.”

She said: “I can't wait to have him back.”

During the announcement Emirati officials said the coviction was on solid ground and showed video clips in which Hedges described his apparent intelligence work with MI6 - the British secret service.
“He was a part-time PhD researcher, a part-time businessman, but he was a 100-percent a full-time secret service operative,” said Jaber Al-Lamki, an official with the UAE's National Media Council.

“Mr Hedges has been found guilty of espionage. He sought out sensitive information he knew had access to it. He was here to steal the UAE’s sensitive national security secrets for his paymasters,” Al-Lamki added.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the announcement of his release as “fantastic news.” And he said the British government was grateful to the UAE for resolving the issue in a speedy fashion.


Hunt said Britain did not agree with the charges against Hedges. “We've seen no evidence to support these accusations,” Hunt said, adding that the UK is “deeply perplexed” by the charges.
Hunt had lobbied senior UAE officials for Hedges' release.

The presidential pardon is one of 785 as part of the UAE National Day celebrations state news agency WAM reported, adding that Hedges would leave the country once formalities were completed.

Hedge’s case has received widespread coverage in British and international media, as well as comments from various figureheads

Commenting on the verdict and Presidential Pardon, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash said: “His Highness the President’s gracious clemency in the customary National Day pardons allows us to return our focus to the underlying fundamental strength of the UAE/UK bi-lateral relationship and its importance to the international community.

“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.”

He said the case against Hedges had relied on evidence that included the accused’s own “electronic devices; surveillance and intelligence gathering by UAE intelligence and security agencies; and evidence provided by Mr Hedges himself – including a corroborated account of asset recruitment and training and the confidential information being targeted. His recruitment and progress within a foreign intelligence service was authenticated to the Court by UAE Intelligence Agencies.”


Libya protesters demand release of Qaddafi-era spy chief

Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi (L), dressed in prison blues, sits along with other defendants behind the bars of the accused cell during a hearing as part of his trial in a courthouse in Tripoli on December 28, 2014. (AFP)
Updated 31 min 6 sec ago

Libya protesters demand release of Qaddafi-era spy chief

  • Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Qaddafi’s fall
  • Al-Islam was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia

TRIPOLI: Relatives and supporters of Libya’s Qaddafi-era intelligence chief, jailed for his alleged role in a bloody crackdown during the country’s 2011 uprising, protested in Tripoli on Saturday to demand his release.
Abdullah Al-Senussi, a brother-in-law of longtime dictator Muamar Qaddafi, was sentenced to death in 2015 over the part he allegedly played in the regime’s response to a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed Qaddafi.
Eight others close to Qaddafi, including the Libyan leader’s son, Seif Al-Islam, also received death sentences following a trial condemned by the UN as “seriously” flawed.
Several dozen relatives and members of Senussi’s tribe, the Magerha, gathered in a central Tripoli square to demand he be freed over health concerns.
“The law and medical reports support our legitimate demand,” said one protester, Mohamad Amer.
Officials have not released specific details on his alleged health problems.
In a statement, the Magerha said his liberation would “contribute to and consolidate national reconciliation” in a country torn apart by intercommunal conflicts since Qaddafi’s fall.
The unusual protest comes just over a month after the release on health grounds of Abuzeid Dorda, Qaddafi’s head of foreign intelligence who was sentenced at the same time as Senussi.
The protesters held up photos of Senussi behind bars and placards reading “Freedom to prisoners. Yes to national reconciliation.”
Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Qaddafi’s fall.
Like the dictator’s son, he had also been the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for suspected war crimes during the 2011 uprising.
But in an unusual move, in 2013 the court gave Libyan authorities the green light to put him on trial.
He has since been detained in the capital, along with some 40 other senior Qaddafi-era officials including the dictator’s last prime minister Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi.
Al-Islam was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia.
The group announced his release in 2017 but it was never confirmed and his fate remains unknown.