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Germany

Convicted Terror Suspect Released from German Prison

A Morroccan national convicted of aiding a terrorist organization in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks has been released from prison pending his appeal.

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Motassadeq (left) was released from prison Tuesday evening

Mounir el-Motassadeq was sentenced to seven years in prison by a Hamburg court last August. He was convicted of belonging to a terrorist cell that included three Sept. 11 hijackers.

But on Tuesday, following a decision by Germany's Federal Constitutional Court, Motassadeq walked out of the Hamburg prison and got into his lawyer's car. He smiled but made no comment.

A statement from the federal court said that Hamburg judges had been wrong to order Motassadeq returned to custody while appeals from both his defense lawyers and prosecutors are still pending.

In 2003, the 31-year-old Moroccan was first sentenced to 15 years in prison as the first person anywhere to be convicted in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. Motassadeq was accused of helping members of the Hamburg al Qaeda cell pay school tuition and other bills while they plotted the attacks.

But Germany's highest criminal court, the Federal Court of Justice, overturned his conviction in 2004 and sent back the case for a retrial. A Hamburg court again convicted him of membership in a terrorist organization in August 2005, but both the defense and prosecution have appealed.

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