Jailed Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim released

Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was jailed for sodomy, was released on Wednesday after newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad helped arrange a full pardon for him.

Anwar, 70, was convicted of sodomy in 2015 in a case he said was aimed at crushing his alliance, which was making gains against Malaysia's long-ruling coalition government. His sentence was set to end June 8, but last week's unexpected election win, which ended the National Front's 60-year rule, led to his swift release.

As Anwar emerged from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital, where he was receiving treatment for a shoulder injury, he received a roaring reception from his supporters who had gathered outside to receive him.

"We asked for a pardon not to absolve us from wrongdoing, but because there was an abuse of power, to which the king agreed - and I've been cleared of all charges", he said, as he spoke alongside his wife, the new deputy prime minister-designate Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

It was Anwar's second spell in prison.

Since 2016, Mahathir and Anwar have joined hands again against the government led by Najib Razak.

Shouts of "Reformasi!" (Reform) -- Anwar's rallying cry -- rang out as he arrived at his sprawling family compound in a city suburb. Wearing a white shirt printed with a photograph of Anwar and the words "March 2 Freedom", he said he nevertheless believed Anwar and Mahathir could work together and that the alliance's prospects were good.

Last week, "we freed Malaysia from BN, today we freed Anwar Ibrahim from prison", PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi tells cheering crowd.

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Anwar was serving a five-year jail term for sodomy, but had considered himself a prisoner of conscience.

"But naturally, it would take weeks or months...from Harvard, Stamford and other universities because I think I have a small contribution to make...to show that the voice of reason and moderation in Islam is paramount and Muslim can be counted upon to ensure freedom and justice", he said.

After he was sacked in 1998, Anwar was jailed in the majority Muslim nation for committing sodomy and abusing power, charges he denied.

Speaking about Mr Mahathir's behaviour during his first prime ministership, Ibrahim Suffian, executive director of the Merdeka Center, an independent survey group, said: "Many of his allies suffered during his time as prime minister".

Anwar was beaten up while in police custody and convicted for corruption in 1999 and for "sodomy" in 2000.

Wednesday's scenes made it clear that Anwar - who said he had received congratulatory calls from around the world including old friend and former United States vice president Al Gore - had lost little of his star power.

Mahathir told the conference that there will be "no deal" with Najib over the graft scandal.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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