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  1. ITV Report

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary released from prison

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary has been released from prison, having served half of his five-and-a-half-year sentence for inviting support for so-called Islamic State.

The 51-year-old led an extremist network linked to violent jihadists, including one of the killers of soldier Lee Rigby in 2013, and was once a leading figure in the now banned group al-Muhajiroun.

The former the former solicitor was jailed in 2016, and following his release will be subject to a strict supervision regime for the rest of his sentence.

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Choudary became due for automatic release after reaching the halfway point of a five-and-a-half-year sentence, when time spent on remand is taken into account.

Police and MI5 are expected to be among a host of agencies involved in monitoring him in the community.

It is thought he will initially be placed in a probation hostel following his release, and will have to comply with more than 20 licence conditions.

There are a number of standard requirements, including maintaining good behaviour, receiving visits from and keeping in contact with his supervising probation officer, and not travelling outside the UK without prior permission.

In addition, Choudary will be subject to a bespoke package of further measures while on licence.

Choudary was jailed for inciting support for so-called Islamic State. Credit: PA

These are expected to include: electronic tagging; a night-time curfew; requirements to stay within a set area and only attend pre-approved mosques; a ban on contacting individuals who he knows or believes to have been charged with or convicted of extremist-related offences without prior approval; and restrictions relating to internet use and mobile device ownership.

Any breach of licence conditions can result in immediate return to custody.

Choudary, from Ilford, east London, will be supervised under a system known as multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mappa).

In a separate measure, his name has been added to a UN sanctions list, which means he is subject to an assets freeze and travel ban.

Former university friend David Toube believes Choudary is still dangerous. Credit: ITV News

A former university friend of Choudary told ITV News the preacher remains "dangerous" despite his spell in prison.

David Toube, who now works for a counter terrorism organisation, remembers Choudary as "easy going", but does not think his former friend would have been changed by jail.

He told ITV News: "I would love to see the Anjem Choudary that I knew as a teenager again. But I think he's not coming back. This is a man who spent 30 years at the heart of extremist politics. And without being Anjem Choudary the hate preacher, he's nothing."

Choudary, centre, speaks at protest outside the Syrian Embassy in London in 2003. Credit: AP

On Thursday, Theresa May said authorities are equipped to supervise Choudary after his release.

The Prime Minister said: “The police, the prison, the probation service, and other agencies have a range of powers available to them.

“They also have significant experience in dealing with such offenders.”

The plan for his release is seen as highly sensitive, and no official confirmation of the precise timing or location has been given.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We do not comment on individuals.”

Prisons minister Rory Stewart has previously said Choudary will be watched “very, very carefully”.

Last week, security minister Ben Wallace said: “We are alert to the threat people like him pose and we will make sure we do what steps we need to mitigate it.”