Freedom for George Michael after jail spell

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British pop star George Michael was released from prison Monday after spending four weeks behind bars for crashing his car into a shop while under the influence of cannabis, official sources said.

A court jailed the 47-year-old "Freedom" singer on September 14 after his Range Rover smashed into a photography shop in north London in July, the latest in a long line of brushes with the law.

A government source told AFP that Michael -- real name Georgios Panayiotou -- left Highpoint Prison in Suffolk, eastern England on Monday. The Ministry of Justice said it did not comment on individual prisoners.

Michael later arrived back at his north London home in another Range Rover, although this time driven by a chauffeur, according to pictures on several British newspaper websites.

He received an eight-week sentence on September 14 but the judge said he would be released after serving half, with the remainder of the term being spent under strict conditions.

He was also banned from driving for five years and forced to pay fines and costs worth 1,365 pounds (1,561 euros, 2,177 dollars).

During his time in jail Michael issued a statement saying that he had received "no special treatment of any kind" although he had been "treated with kindness" by inmates and prison staff.

The singer -- who first found fame in 1980s pop group Wham! and has gone on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide -- has fought a long battle with drugs.

In June 2007, Michael was given a two-year driving ban after pleading guilty to driving while unfit the previous October, when he was found collapsed in his Mercedes.

In 1998 he was fined after making lewd advances to an undercover male police officer in a public toilet in Beverly Hills, California -- an incident he poked fun at in the video for his hit "Outside."

© 2010 AFP

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