LONDON: The ambassador of the UAE in London said on Friday his government is studying whether to grant clemency to a convicted British academic sentenced to life in prison for espionage.
Ambassador Sulaiman Hamid Al Mazroui said that academic Matthew Hedges' family has requested clemency and the government is considering it.
He said the espionage case against the 31-year-old Hedges "was an extremely serious case" and that he had been convicted based on "compelling evidence" after a full and fair judicial process.
"The crimes Mr Hedges was accused of are extremely serious. For the UAE, like all countries, protecting our national security must be our first priority," he said.
The ambassador denied claims that Hedges received only a brief court hearing before being convicted on very serious charges and said the British academic had proper legal representation in court.
The ambassador said he has met with British officials to discuss the case.
Hedges is a Ph.D. student who was arrested on May 5 at Dubai Airport.
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of political science in the UAE, said he believes the government "must" have credible evidence against Hedges.
"I think what they have probably against him is that he does work for a government, with probably name tag, with ranking, with evidence," he said.
He said some sort of pardon is possible and that the case is unlikely to damage the "hugely important mutually beneficial relationship" between the UAE and Britain.