The Brighton Royal Marine who was jailed for murdering a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan has thanked his campaigning “wife in a million” after being freed from prison.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 42, told the Daily Mail newspaper: “I will be eternally grateful to Claire and I cannot put into words how wonderful she is.
“She is a wife in a million. Other inmates often said how lucky I was to have her fighting so hard for me.
“I don’t think there is anybody who has witnessed the effort she has gone to who will doubt how she feels about me – and that’s beyond words really. You just can’t imagine someone cares for you that much.”
Alex Blackman, from Bevendean, was released from Erlestoke Prison, in Wiltshire, late last week after serving half of his seven-year sentence for manslaughter.
He was originally jailed for life for murder in December 2013 but crucial evidence was withheld from his original court-martial.
The Mail said: “In Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, Sergeant Blackman and his troops endured harsh conditions to man an outpost deep in hostile territory.
“They patrolled twice a day carrying 100lb of equipment in stifling 50C (122F) heat under intense psychological pressure, knowing every step might trigger a landmine. It was described as ‘the most dangerous square mile on earth’.
“At their squalid, insect-infested post, the 16 exhausted commandos went to sleep every night fearing Taliban maniacs could slaughter them in their camp beds.”
When appeal judges heard vital medical evidence about combat stress during what was described as the “tour from hell”, his murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter.
In March his sentence was also reduced although he was not reinstated as a Marine.
Sgt Blackman told the Mail: “Being out of prison is an immense feeling but I am very conscious that my sentence is not complete.
“I have been released on licence and there are certain conditions which I must – and I will – respect.
“But it is the little things I can enjoy. Suddenly I can sleep when I want, eat when I want, go for a walk … this freedom of choice over basic things is going to take some getting used to.”
Claire Blackman described Al’s release as amazing and said that she had spent the whole time grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Daily Mail readers donated more than £800,000 to fund the legal costs of the fight to free Sergeant Blackman. There is now even talk of his story being turned into a Hollywood film.
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