A federal appeals court approved the release of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on bond Thursday while he appeals his convictions in a corruption case.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the former governor had raised "substantial questions of fact and law" in challenging his conviction.
The once-popular Democrat began serving a sentence of more than seven years in June on his conviction on six bribery-related counts and one obstruction count. He has been serving the sentence at a federal prison in Oakdale, La.
Earlier:House Judiciary Committee wants Siegelman to testify
The House Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department Thursday to temporarily release former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman from prison in early May to testify before Congress about possible political influence over his prosecution.
A spokeswoman for the committee said Siegelman, a Democrat serving more than seven years in a Louisiana prison, would travel to Washington under guard of the U.S. Marshals Service. She said Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, wants to hear directly from Siegelman because lawmakers are having trouble getting information elsewhere, particularly from the Justice Department.
"The chairman has determined it would be appropriate to hear from Mr. Siegelman himself and believes he would have a lot to add to the committee's investigation into selective prosecution," spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said.
Democrats last year began reviewing Siegelman's 2006 corruption conviction as part of a broader investigation into allegations of political meddling at the Justice Department by the Bush administration.
Justice and the federal prosecutors who handled the prosecution have denied any political influence, emphasizing that Siegelman was convicted by a jury. But critics, including about 50 former state attorneys general, have called for a review and said the case raises a number of questions.
The effort gained momentum after a Republican lawyer who had volunteered for Siegelman's re-election opponent — current Republican Gov. Bob Riley — said she overheard conversations suggesting that former White House adviser Karl Rove was talking with Justice officials about Siegelman's prosecution.
Last month, CBS's "60 Minutes" reported that a key witness against Siegelman said that prosecutors met with him some 70 times and had him repeatedly write out his testimony because they were frustrated with his recollection of events.
Siegelman was elected governor in 1998 and served one term. He was convicted in 2006 on six bribery-related and one obstruction of justice charge.
RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrova has reported extensively on the case of Don Siegelman, a Democrat whom many people believe to have been selectively targeted for prosecution by the Bush administration and unjustly convicted. Alexandrovna's reporting on the Siegelman case can be found at these links: