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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 15:52 GMT
Martha Stewart freed from prison
Martha Stewart
Ms Stewart has several new business ventures planned
US homemaking icon Martha Stewart has been released from a low-security jail after serving five months for her role in a shares scandal.

She was flown home in a private jet to complete the remainder of her sentence - five months under house arrest.

Shares in her firm Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia rose $2.15 to $36.10 in early trading on Friday.

Her movements will be monitored by an electronic bracelet but she will be free to resume her business activities.

"The experience of the last five months... has been life altering and life affirming," Ms Stewart said in a statement issued on her website.

"Someday, I hope to have the chance to talk more about all that has happened, the extraordinary people I have met here and all that I have learned."

On the payroll

Her downfall was selling nearly 4,000 shares in ImClone Systems after a long-time friend tipped her off that a negative government report about the company's cancer drug was due to be released.

Ms Stewart, who made millions selling housekeeping advice and accessories, was convicted of lying about the share deal.

Martha Stewart outside court

Ms Stewart, 63, will now be able to leave her 153-acre estate in Katonah, New York, for up to 48 hours a week to carry on her work.

Her plans include a role in property magnate Donald Trump's hit US business reality TV show The Apprentice and creative input to Martha Stewart Living.

She will also appear in a revival of her homemaking TV show and her company will resume paying her a salary of $900,000 (471,800) a year, according to Associated Press.

However, her conviction means she will not be able to lead her business empire again - unless granted permission to do so by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the country's financial watchdog.

High-profile departure

Ms Stewart left prison in a sports utility vehicle, which took her to a private jet.

A two-vehicle motorcade sped her out of prison in Alderson, West Virginia, in the early hours of Friday morning to a nearby airstrip, where supporters cheered her on as she boarded the plane.

Her company's shares had rallied while she was in jail amid hopes that she would make a comeback after serving her sentence.

Ms Stewart's incarceration is also said to have benefited the economy of Alderson, whose residents have cashed in on their celebrity inmate with the sale of novelty souvenirs.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See Martha Stewart celebrate her freedom



SEE ALSO:
What's next for Martha Stewart?
04 Mar 05 |  Business
Martha Stewart heads for Trump TV
03 Feb 05 |  Business
Martha Stewart lambasts jail food
22 Dec 04 |  Americas
Millionaires behind bars
07 Oct 04 |  Business
Martha Stewart's firm sees losses
28 Oct 04 |  Business
Martha Stewart starts prison term
08 Oct 04 |  Americas


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