Gary Glitter out of prison, headed for Britain

Gary Glitter, the former British glam rock star who spent the past two years and nine months in a Vietnamese prison for sexually abusing minors, was released early Tuesday morning and escorted to Ho Chi Minh City to board a flight for Britain, dpa reported.

"He already left the prison early this morning," said Tran Huu Thong, director of Thu Duc prison in Vietnam's Binh Thuan province, some 100 kilometres east of Ho Chi Minh City. "He is on his way to Ho Chi Minh City."

Glitter had been expected to be released at noon, but was let out early to avoid media waiting for him at the prison gates.

He was scheduled to take a 4 pm flight to London, his lawyer said Monday.

"He doesn't want to go back to the UK, because he's had so many troubles there already," said Glitter's lawyer, Le Thanh Kinh. "He wanted to go to another country, like Singapore or Hong Kong."

Kinh said Glitter would change planes in either Bangkok or Doha, but the location was being kept secret to discourage press coverage.

Police are expected to meet Glitter, 64, whose real name is Paul Gadd, as he arrives later Tuesday in London, where he will be required to sign the national sex-offender register.

Glitter will be required to keep police informed of his whereabouts if he decides to stay in Britain.

The 1970s rock star was arrested in November 2005 as he tried to catch a flight to Bangkok, after being accused of sexually assaulting the two girls in Vietnam.

It is believed that he paid the two girls more than 1,000 dollars to reduce their initial charge against him of rape, for which he could have been sentenced to death.

He received a three-year sentence, which was recently reduced by three months during a Vietnamese New-Year amnesty.

Thu Duc prison, where Glitter served out his sentence, is a bleak facility 5 kilometres down a side road across from a nondescript rest stop on Vietnam's Highway 1. Foreign press were not allowed to enter the prison.

"He's had a very hard time in prison," said Glitter's lawyer. "He won't have anything to miss about that place."

During his time in prison, Glitter was diagnosed with a heart problem, and he is expected to seek medical treatment in Britain after his return.

Glitter was arrested in Britain in 1997, when thousands of images of child pornography were found on his computer after he took it to be repaired.

He was sentenced to four months in prison and served two, after which he left his native Britain and eventually settled in South-East Asia.

The British press tracked him down in Cambodia and Vietnam, and wrote articles accusing him of abusing local children, which led directly to his arrest and conviction.

He is famous for his flamboyant costumes and behaviour during the glam-rock period and enjoyed hits like I'm the Leader of the Gang, Do You Wanna Touch Me, Hello! Hello! I'm Back Again and I Love You Love Me Love.

Glitter has repeatedly protested his innocence since his arrest.

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