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Matthew Hedges, British Academic Who Was Jailed for Life by the UAE, Has Been Pardoned

The British academic who was sentenced to life in jail for allegedly spying in the United Arab Emirates has been pardoned with immediate effect. The UAE came under severe criticism after the sentencing of Matthew Hedges, 31, who denied spying for the British government and said he had been researching his postgraduate doctoral degree. His family claimed his hearing lasted five minutes and he wasn’t allowed a lawyer. They said a supposed signed confession was written in Arabic, which he doesn’t understand. The UAE said Monday that the pardon was part of a series of orders issued on the emirate’s National Day anniversary. His wife, Daniela Tejada, said she was “elated” and “can’t wait to have him back home.” She told the BBC: “It’s taken me by surprise and I’m just so happy and so relieved and really incredulous that it is all happening finally. It’s been an absolutely nightmarish seven months already and I can’t wait to have him back home.” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called the pardon “fantastic news” and said Hedges could be released “very soon.”