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Wife’s joy as British ‘spy’ is pardoned

Free: Mr Hedges and wife Daniela PICTURE: GETTY

THE wife of jailed British student Matthew Hedges said she has been ‘brought back to life’ after the United Arab Emirates ordered his release yesterday.

Daniela Tejada described the presidential pardon as ‘the best news we could have received’, adding: ‘I can’t wait to have him back.’

Mr Hedges, 31, was sentenced to life in prison by the Gulf state on Wednesday after seven months in solitary confinement on spying charges which he denies. He was granted clemency after intense lobbying by Ms Tejada and the British government.

Media official Jaber al-Lamki (pictured) told a news conference in Abu Dhabi: ‘Mr Hedges will be permitted to leave the UAE once formalities are completed.’

Ms Tejada, 27, said: ‘To say we are elated is an understatement. It’s been an absolutely nightmarish seven months.’

Mr Hedges, who was due to fly back to London last night, claimed he was in the UAE to research the country’s security strategy as part of his PhD at Durham University.

His friend Dr Andreas Krieg told the BBC: ‘You have to apply due diligence and a lot of really good risk assessments when you decide to do research in the UAE.’

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK ‘never saw any evidence’ against Mr Hedges.

Radha Stirling, chief executive of the human rights group Detained in Dubai, welcomed his release but accused the UAE of using the pardon to ‘divert attention from civil and human rights violations’.