United Arab Emirates Considers Clemency Appeal for British Academic Accused of Spying

The family of a British academic who was convicted of spying in the United Arab Emirates has appealed for clemency, the country’s ambassador to the UK has said.

Sulaiman Almazroui told a press conference in London on Friday that his government was considering the appeal and would respond in due course but he defended the process under which Matthew Hedges was convicted.

The jailing of Hedges, a 31-year-old Durham University PhD student, sparked a public outcry this week, with the Gulf state being accused of a miscarriage of justice.

Hedges’s wife, Daniela Tejada, had said she believed the UK government had been putting its interests above her husband’s fight for freedom.

She said had spoken to her husband on Thursday night and he had complained of feeling unwell.

Almazroui said: “Matthew Hedges was not convicted after a five-minute show trial, as some have reported. Over the course of one month, three judges evaluated compelling evidence in three hearings.

“They reached their conclusions after a full and proper process. This was an extremely serious case. We live in a dangerous neighbourhood and national security must be a top priority.

“Mr Hedges’s family have made a request for clemency and the government is studying that request. The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, had a good conversation yesterday with our foreign minister.”

He emphasised the close ties between Britain and the UAE, adding: “Because of the strength of that relationship we are hopeful that an amicable solution can be reached.”

Tejada confirmed that an appeal for clemency had been lodged with the UAE government adding: “We will wait to see what happens.”

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SOURCE: CNN, Patrick Wintour and Nazia Parveen