Media tycoon Conrad Black 'freed from jail'

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Media tycoon Conrad Black was freed from jail in the US on $2 million bail today, according to reports.

His release came just two years and four months into a six-and-a-half-year sentence for defrauding investors out of millions of dollars.

US district court judge Amy St Eve said the former proprietor of the Daily Telegraph must appear in her Chicago courtroom before he is released from custody.

He has been serving his sentence in a minimum security prison in Coleman, Florida.

The 65-year-old peer was granted bail on Monday by the Court of Appeals, pending an appeal against his conviction for fraud and obstruction of justice.

The former head of the Hollinger International media empire was convicted with three other former executives of defrauding shareholders out of 6.1 million US dollars.

He was also convicted of obstruction of justice after he was seen carrying boxes of documents out of his offices, loading them into his car and driving off. The documents were sought by US government investigators.

Setting the terms of his release, the judge ruled Black cannot leave the continental United States.

The decision to grant bail came after a US Supreme Court ruling weakened the "honest services" law which was central to the case brought by prosecutors.

It will now be left to a lower court to decide whether his conviction should be overturned.

A Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman said Black was still in jail.

She could not say when he would be released or what the process would be to transport him to Chicago.

Black's lawyer, Miguel Estrada, said via email: "We are waiting for the court to sign the order.

"When the court does and the order is faxed to the jail, he will be released.

"Could happen today but depends on scheduling."

Mr Estrada was referring to Black's release from prison, from where he will have to travel to court in Chicago before he is freed.

Judge St Eve told Black's lawyers he could keep his passport but only for travel within the US.

She did not set a court date for his appearance in Chicago.

And she asked for a sworn statement on Black's finances before ruling on whether he could return to Canada, where he owns a home in Toronto.

Hollinger International once owned the Daily Telegraph, Chicago Sun-Times, Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers in the US and Canada.