The United Arab Emirates are considering clemency for a British academic jailed for life in the country, an official has announced.
Delivering a statement at the UAE embassy in London today, ambassador Sulaiman Almazroui said the government was currently "studying" a request for clemency submitted by the family of Matthew Hedges.
The 31-year-old academic was arrested at Dubai airport in May this year and accused of spying on behalf the UK. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
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Mr Almazroui said he hoped the UK and the UAE could reach an "amicable solution" over the case, but claimed judges had seen "compelling evidence" over the course of three hearings before sentencing Mr Hedges.
However, the vice-chancellor of Durham University, which employed Mr Hedges, said there was "no reason to believe that Matt was conducting anything other than legitimate academic research".
'Serious diplomatic consequences'
Jailed Durham University academic Matthew Hedges. Image: PA
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has threatened "serious diplomatic consequences" for the country if Mr Hedges is not freed.
Despite the diplomatic efforts being made, Mr Hedges wife, Daniela Tejada, said her husband remains fearful that he will have to serve the entirety of his sentence, after speaking to him in a brief phone call on Thursday night.
Crispin Blunt MP previously told talkRADIO the jailing of the academic was an "utter disaster" for UK-UAE relations, and said he understood why the foreign secretary was "so cross".