Matthew Hedges

British academic Matthew Hedges returned to London on Tuesday, a day after the UAE pardoned his life sentence for spying.

Hedges, a 31-year-old researcher at Durham University, was arrested on May 5 at Dubai airport and detained while researching the UAE’s foreign and internal security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011.

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Confirming his return to Britain, his family said in a statement, “After almost seven months of detention, including six months in solitary confinement, British Ph.D. researcher Matthew Hedges has returned safely back to London.”

Concluding an ordeal which stunned Britain, he was welcomed back to Britain by his wife Daniela Tejada and other members of his family.

“I don’t know where to begin with thanking people for securing my release.

“I have not seen or read much of what has been written over the past few days but Dani tells me the support has been incredible,” Hedges said in the statement.

He thanked the British embassy in the United Arab Emirates, the Foreign Office and especially his wife for their efforts in securing his release.

“She is so brave and strong. Seeing her and my family after this ordeal is the best thing that could have happened.

“I thank you all once again. This is very surreal,” Hedges said.