Gary Glitter released from Vietnam prison

Served nearly three years for child molestation

HO CHI MINH CITY -- Former British glam rocker Gary Glitter was freed from a Vietnamese prison Tuesday after serving nearly three years for child sexual molestation, the prison chief said.

He left the communist country later in the day, boarding a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok, where he was set to travel on to London, an airline official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The terms of Glitter's 2006 sentence called for his deportation upon his release.

Glitter, 64, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, was arrested in Vietnam in late 2005 and convicted the following year of committing obscene acts with two girls then 11 and 12 in the southern resort town of Vung Tau.

Britain has not announced any outstanding charges against the 1970s pop star once famed for his flamboyant bouffant wigs and silver jumpsuits, and Glitter has said he would like to move to Hong Kong or Singapore.

"He has the right to go wherever he wants," his lawyer Le Thanh Kinh said.

The British embassy has declined to comment on the case.

Sources at the Home Office in London said if he were to settle in his native country he would be required to sign the sex offenders' register.

The one-time pop star eluded waiting journalists early Tuesday when he was spirited out of his southern Vietnamese prison before dawn.

"He left our prison early this morning and he is now already far from here," said Tran Huu Thong, head of the Z30D Thu Duc prison in Binh Thuan province, adding that Glitter was in the southern metropolis.

His lawyer, Kinh, said Glitter wanted to avoid media attention.

Glitter had several hits in the 1970s including "I'm The Leader of the Gang (I Am!)" and "Do You Wanna Touch Me?" The anthemic 1972 hit "Rock and Roll" is still often chanted in British and U.S. sports stadiums.

He was arrested in Britain in 1997 after he took his computer to a repair store and hardcore pornographic material was found on the drive. He was sentenced in 1999 to four months in prison, of which he served two.

Keen to avoid the media, Glitter reportedly moved to Cuba and then Cambodia, where he was expelled in 2002, allegedly for trawling for underage sex.

Having settled in Vietnam, where a British newspaper reported he was living with an underage girl, Glitter was arrested at Ho Chi Minh City airport in November 2005 while trying to leave for Thailand.

In March 2006 he was sentenced to three years in jail, the minimum term under Vietnamese law, which was later cut by three months.

Glitter, who paid compensation to the families of both victims, evaded the more serious charge of child rape, which carries a maximum penalty of death by firing squad in Vietnam.

The judge who presided over the closed trial later called Glitter "sick" and "abnormal," detailing disturbing sexual acts with the children.

The singer during the trial maintained his innocence, blamed a media conspiracy and claimed he was teaching the girls English, allowing them to stay overnight because they were scared of ghosts.

Britain's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children this month called for tough action to stop Glitter from traveling abroad again if he returns to his home country.

"Gary Glitter is a persistent offender responsible for a catalog of sexual crimes against children," the charity's Diana Sutton said in a statement.

"So called 'sex tourists' move around the world and target countries they know have weak or nonexistent child protection systems, such as Cambodia or Vietnam.

"We know about Glitter because of his fame, but there are many other sex offenders, not in the public eye, who are falling off the radar."
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