Thailand Prime Minister (PM) Thaksin Shinawatra released from detention.

Former Thailand Prime Minister (PM) Thaksin Shinawatra was seen early on Sunday (Feb 18) in a vehicle leaving a hospital where he has been detained for the past six months, according to Reuters witnesses.

Thaksin, 74, had been scheduled to be released on parole on Sunday, according to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. Thaksin’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for confirmation he had been formally released.

Thailand’s best-known and most polarising premier, Thaksin has loomed large over politics for two decades, despite 15 years in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence for abuse of power and conflicts of interest.

It would be Thaksin’s first taste of freedom on Thai soil since fleeing the country nearly 16 years ago in the wake of a coup.

Thaksin made a dramatic return from exile in August to cheering crowds and was taken to prison to serve an eight-year sentence. However, he was transferred to a hospital with health issues on his first night in jail and has been detained there for the past six months.

Reuters journalists saw Thaksin in a black Mercedes van wearing a green shirt and surgical face mask, sitting beside his youngest daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, as a convoy of cars left the hospital.

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