UAE Federal Supreme Court 0902
A file photo of the UAE Federal Supreme Court. Image Credit: Reuters

The UAE President has granted clemency to Matthew Hedges, British national convicted for spying in the UAE, on Monday.

Jaber Al Lamki, executive director, media and strategic communications

UAE statement

On Wednesday 21st November 2018, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals found Matthew 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 can confirm that following the Court's verdict, and sentencing, the family of Hedges has 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 has subsequently announced that a Presidential Pardon has been issued with immediate effect by His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. The customary National Day Presidential pardon includes Hedges as part of a tranche of clemency orders issued on the occasion of the UAE's 47th National Day anniversary. Hedges will be permitted to leave the UAE once formalities are completed.

Commenting on the verdict and Presidential Pardon, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash 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 bi-lateral 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 longstanding partnership. This was a straightforward matter that became unnecessarily complex despite the UAE's best efforts."

The case against Hedges was predicated on evidence secured from Hedges electronic devices; surveillance and intelligence gathering by UAE intelligence and 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 to the Court by UAE Intelligence Agencies.

Dr Anwar Gargash remarked further 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."

Confession video

The UAE officials on Monday presented a video to the media of their investigation showing convicted British spy Matthew Hedges admitting to the court that he was spying on the UAE, and that he was a captain with the British spying agency MI6. In the video, Hedges also admitted that his PHD and businessman status was just a cover to conceal his true activities.

The video was shown to international media today (Monday) noon by the government as “clarification”.

The 10 minutes video clip starts with the judge at the court asking Matthew Hedges’s rank

It is... “Captain” ...he admits.

The clip moves to what appears to be a laid-back Matthew in an investigation room where he says: "I have an active field role..."

Hedges dressed in a short-sleeved blue shirt, appears relaxed and cool... in one part he says he was not gathering the information from the “top top top... not the leadership, not from (Diwan)...but from other directors...," he says.

“I approached them (the officials) as Matthew Hedges, the Phd student and when I got the information it becomes MI6...," he says snapping his fingers.

Hedges also said to the investigators: “I was gathering the information not from 'top officials', but from officials”.

When asked about the information he gathered, he said: “What new technologies are they looking into. What do they see as a security threat and then there is the military of course.”

When the investigators asked if anyone knows about him or his job, he said: “No.. no-one else knows.. No one but you guys”

“I am Matthew Hedges from OMNISCOP,” he said.