20:56 GMT +320 January 2020
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    Last week, a 31-year-old British academic, who travelled to Dubai in early May, was accused of 'jeopardising the military, economy and political security' of the United Arab Emirates, and was given a life sentence for spying.

    On Monday, the United Arab Emirates freed Matthew Hedges, a British national who was sentenced to life imprisonment last week on spying charges, Reuters reported, citing a UAE official. It remains unclear when he would leave the country.

    READ MORE: 'Hard Blow' to Scholars: UK Should Pressure UAE Over Academic Arrest — Pundit

    Earlier in the day, UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued the clemency for Hedges as part of the country's National Day.

    "Mr Hedges will be permitted to leave the UAE once formalities are completed," the statement said.

    At a Monday press conference, Emirati officials reportedly showed a video to reporters of Hedges purportedly confessing to being a captain in MI6 — Britain, however, has denied that he was a spy.

    READ MORE: UAE Court Issues Life Sentence to British Academic Hedges

    Journalists were not allowed to record the clip, reports say.

    "The family and I welcome the news of the presidential pardon and cannot wait to have Matt back home," Hedges' wife, Daniela Tejada, was cited as saying by Reuters.

    Reacting to the news, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that London was grateful to the UAE:

    "Fantastic news about Matthew Hedges. Although we didn’t agree with charges we are grateful to UAE government for resolving issue speedily".

    Hedges, a 31-year-old doctoral student in Middle Eastern studies at Durham University, was handed down a life sentence for spying last week.

    It normally includes a maximum of 25 years in jail and is followed by deportations for non-Emiratis.

    He was detained on 5 May at Dubai Airport as he was preparing to leave the country, and later accused of spying "for a foreign country and jeopardising the military, political and economic security of the UAE".

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