UAE considers clemency request for jailed Briton Matthew Hedges

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By Alice Cuddy
UAE considers clemency request for jailed Briton Matthew Hedges
Copyright  Daniela Tejada   -   Matthew Hedges with his wife Daniela Tejada

The United Arab Emirates is considering a request to grant clemency to British academic Matthew Hedges, who was sentenced to life in prison this week after being convicted of spying.

The UAE’s ambassador to London, Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui, said the government was considering the request, filed by Hedges’ family, and hoped that an “amicable solution” could be reached.

Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student at England’s Durham University, has been held in the UAE since May 5 after he was arrested at Dubai airport.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "deeply disappointed" by his sentencing.

In a press conference on Friday, Almazroui said the case against Hedges was “extremely serious” and that he had been convicted as a result of “compelling evidence” presented in a full and fair judicial process.

“For the UAE, like all countries, protecting our national security must be our first priority,” he said.

The ambassador’s comments came a day after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had held constructive talks about the case with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed.

Following a meeting with Hunt, Hedges' wife, Daniela Tejada, said she believed British authorities were working to free her husband.

Hunt "assured me that he and his team are doing everything in their power to get Matt free and return him home to me,” she said.

“This is not a fight I can win alone and I thank the Foreign Office and the British public for now standing up for one of their citizens.”

_Click on the player below to see what Hedges’ wife Daniela Tejada told Euronews in October about his arrest and the conditions he was being held in. Or watch the full press conference in the player above. _

Additional sources • Reuters, AP