Abu Dhabi: Reacting to the UAE Government’s decision to grant clemency to Matthew Hedges, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, on Monday said: “His Highness the President’s gracious clemency in the customary National Day pardons allows us to return our focus to the underlying fundamental strength of the UAE-UK bilateral relationship and its importance to the international community. It was always a UAE hope that this matter would be resolved through the common channels of our long-standing partnership. This was a straightforward matter that became unnecessarily complex despite the UAE’s best efforts.”

Dr Gargash stressed that the case against Hedges was predicated on evidence secured from his electronic devices, surveillance and intelligence-gathering by UAE security agencies, and evidence provided by Hedges himself, including a corroborated account of asset recruitment and training and the confidential information being targeted. His recruitment and progress within a foreign intelligence service was authenticated in Court by UAE intelligence agencies, he said,

Dr Gargash added that “the gracious presidential customary National Day pardon allows us to close this chapter and to concentrate on the many positive aspects of the relationship.”

On November 21,, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals found Hedges, a British citizen, guilty of the crime of spying for and on behalf of a foreign state, jeopardising the military, economic and political security of the UAE. Hedges was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed that following the verdict, and sentencing, Hedges’ family appealed for clemency in a personal letter to President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The letter was conveyed by British consular staff to UAE authorities.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs subsequently announced that a presidential pardon was granted. The pardon for Hedges is part of a tranche of clemency orders issued on the occasion of the UAE’s 47th National Day. Hedges will be permitted to leave the UAE once formalities are completed.