Burundi journalist Hassan Ruvakuki freed from jail

Burundian journalist Hassan Ruvakuki, who had been sentenced to life in jail on terrorism charges, was freed on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

"I thank the prosecutor general who has just freed Hassan Ruvakuki," the journalist's lawyer Fabien Segatwa said.

The lawyer said the decision was taken "to enable Ruvakuki to go for medical care".

Ruvakuki, who worked for French radio station RFI's Swahili service and local broadcaster Bonesha FM, had been in jail since November 2011. He was handed a life sentence last June, a ruling condemned by press rights groups.

"I hope that this will lead rapidly to an acknowledgement that he is innocent and that he will remain free permanently," Segatwa said.

"My thoughts are for my wife and my little girl of one year and two months who was born while I was in prison for nothing. I am -- I am saying it again -- innocent," said Ruvakuki, 37.

Ruvakuki had his jail term cut from life to three years in January when an appeal court reduced the charges from terrorism to membership of a gang. He had initially been convicted of planning an attack by an armed group on the eastern province of Cankuzo that left dozens dead, and spreading news of it afterwards.

esd-bb-hv/vjf