The only man in the world convicted over the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington walked free after more than two years in jail pending a new trial ordered by a federal court.
A smiling Mounir El Motassadeq, a 30-year-old Moroccan student, emerged from custody accompanied by his lawyer and was welcomed by a group of friends who picked him up from prison in this northern German city.
Motassadeq was sentenced in Hamburg in February 2003 to 15 years in prison on charges of accessory to the murder of more than 3,000 people and of membership in a terrorist organization.
But the same court that convicted him ruled Wednesday that there was no longer “urgent suspicion” against him on the charge of accessory to murder, leading it to approve his release in a closed-doors hearing.
It said in a statement, however, that it found that there was still urgent suspicion against Motassadeq of membership in a terrorist organization but that this was legally insufficient to keep him in custody.
Stephen Push, a representative of the Families of September 11 relatives’ group, said he was deeply disappointed by the decision.