KUALA LUMPUR: A small crowd started gathering outside Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahims house in Medan Damansara around noon soon after word that he was freed got out.
Ito, the lead singer of 1970s band Blues Gang, was among the first handful of people to arrive at the former deputy prime ministers residence in Jalan Setiamurni 1.
There were smiles all around. Some shouted Merdeka, Merdeka while others honked their cars and carried the Parti Keadilan Nasional flags.
Among the crowd were opposition and Umno members.
Some cars had the Keadilan flags while others bore posters of Anwars infamous black eye.
Anwar's father-in-law, Datuk Wan Ismail Wan Mahmood, arrived later.
Alhamdullillah, the truth has come out. Everything is back to normal. We are looking forward to the future.
We pray that he will get well soon. Our priority is his health, he said.
The air rang with claps, cheers and shouts of reformasi and merdeka when Anwar arrived at his home at 2.55pm in a gold-coloured Mercedes bearing the registration number PJS 2000.
His wife, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and close aides Azmin Ali and Ezam Mohd Noor accompanied him.
The crowd had grown from about 50 at noon to at least 500 people.
In a short statement to the media, Anwar said he planned to leave for Germany to treat his neurological problem, which is related to a prolapsed spinal disc. The ailment needs endoscopic surgery.
He said he did not have a passport and how soon he could leave would depend on the government department concerned.
Although he looked physically sick and had to be helped to move about, Anwar spoke in a clear and strong voice.
Thank God I'm free, not only free, but vindicated by the court of law, he said.
The former deputy prime minister applauded the resolve of the judges whom he said had withstood pressure in making the judgment.
But I must take cognisance of the fact that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must have allowed some latitude for the judges to act professionally and freely. But this is only the beginning, he added.
He called for the restoration of the integrity of the judiciary and public confidence in the institution.
He also called for the release of those held under the Internal Security Act or that they be charged in court immediately.
After he returns from the medical treatment, Anwar said he would spend some time with his family, strategise the opposition's co-operation and continue a dialogue with the Government.
He praised his wife and family for having shown extraordinary spirit and resilience during his incarceration.
He took only one question from the media, saying: I may sound okay but I'm in excruciating pain.
Earlier, outside the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, Anwar expressed his thanks to God but said he would remain committed with his struggle for justice.
I will continue with my political struggle.
I am ready to work with all opposition parties for reforms, he told reporters.
Asked whether his freedom was obtained in consequence of a deal or a pact with the Government, Anwar immediately said no.