British Citizen Accused Of Spying Arrives Home After Pardon From UAE
British citizen Matthew Hedges arrived in London Tuesday after being held for six-plus months in the United Arab Emirates on charges of spying. Abu Dhabi last week sentenced Hedges to life in prison but pardoned him after the British government warned of a potential breakdown in bilateral relations. The thirty-one-year-old doctoral student was released even as the Emiratis circulated a video allegedly showing him confessing to being a member of the MI6 intelligence agency. The ordeal has strained ties between the allies, as Hedges apparently was kept in solitary confinement since his detention in May; whereas the evidence presented against him consisted uniquely of notes from his dissertation research. For its part, the UAE maintains that he was “100 percent a secret service operative” that aimed “to steal sensitive national secrets for his paymasters” that included information about “the UAE’s ruling families and their networks.” According to Hedges’ family, his thesis focused on sensitive topics such as security apparatuses and the consolidation of political power in Abu Dhabi.