British academic Matthew Hedges, who was last week jailed for life in the United Arab Emirates on a spying charge, has been pardoned, an official in the UAE said.
Here are the key dates in his case:
– May 5 2018: British academic Matthew Hedges is reportedly taken into custody at Dubai airport after travelling to the UAE to interview sources about the country’s foreign policy and security strategy.
– October 10: A court in Abu Dhabi hears Mr Hedges’ case, but adjourns for another hearing on October 24.
– October 11: Mr Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, calls on UAE officials to “admit that they’ve made a mistake” and to release her husband. Ms Tejada says she has not been told what exactly her husband has been accused of, but she does not rule out the prospect of him being accused of spying.
– October 11: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt personally raises Mr Hedges’ case with his UAE counterpart amid concerns over his mental health and well-being.
Extremely concerned about case of Matthew Hedges in UAE. Have raised twice with Foreign Minister and stressed the need for regular consular access, fair & humane treatment as well as due process which is essential.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) October 11, 2018
– October 15: Ms Tejada sees reports that her husband will go on trial for spying and says he is a man of principle with an “impeccable track record”.
– October 16: The Foreign Office says it is “deeply concerned” about Mr Hedges.
– October 19: Mr Hedges is said to be suffering from “significant health issues” after spending more than five months in solitary confinement. In a joint statement, Durham and Exeter Universities say they are “deeply concerned” about Mr Hedges’ welfare.
– October 25: Mr Hedges denies spying for the UK Government when he appears at the Federal Court of Appeal in Abu Dhabi. Ms Tejada says the Foreign Office has been lobbying for Mr Hedges’ welfare, but her requests to meet the Foreign Secretary have not been granted.
– October 29: Mr Hedges is released on bail. His wife, Ms Tejada, welcomes the development, adding: “I cannot allow myself to get too excited by this information as Matt is not fully free yet.”
– November 21: Mr Hedges is sentenced to life imprisonment in a five-minute hearing at an Abu Dhabi court. Prime Minister Theresa May says she is “deeply disappointed and concerned” about the case, while Mr Hunt urges the UAE to reconsider the sentence.
News on Matthew Hedges extremely worrying. We have seen no evidence to back up charges against him. FCO will do ALL we can to get him home & I will meet his wife Daniela tmrw. UAE claim to be friend & ally of the UK so there will be serious diplomatic consequences. Unacceptable.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) November 21, 2018
– November 22: Ms Tejada says she has won assurances that the Government is “now standing up for one of its citizens” after a meeting with Mr Hunt. Prior to the meeting, she had condemned the Foreign Office over its handling of the case.
– November 23: In a statement at the UAE embassy in London, ambassador Sulaiman Almazroui praises the closeness between the two nations as he says clemency is being considered for the “extremely serious case”.
– November 25: Mr Hunt has “constructive” talks with his UAE counterpart over the fate of Mr Hedges.
– November 26: Mr Hedges is pardoned in the UAE, as Emirati officials show a video of him saying he is a captain in MI6.
Fantastic news about Matthew Hedges.Although we didn’t agree with charges we are grateful to UAE govt for resolving issue speedily.But also a bittersweet moment as we remember Nazanin &other innocent ppl detained in Iran.Justice won’t be truly done until they too are safely home.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) November 26, 2018