Albert Woodfox, Black Panther activist freed after 43 years on his 69th birthday

A former Black Panther activist Albert Woodfox was freed from a US prison after 43 years in solitary confinement on Friday by pleading “no contest” to two lesser charges in a deal which allowed him to be released on his 69th birthday.

After decades of legal battles to prove his innocence the judge ordered his release last summer. Albert was convicted twice for killing a prison guard in 1972.

He is the last of the “Angola Three” activists to taste freedom in a case which provoked outrage among rights groups. The supporters said Robert King and Herman Wallace, were kept in isolation because they fought for better prison conditions.

Robert was released in 2001 after his conviction was overturned and Wallace died in 2013 just two days after his release.

Woodfox was kept behind bars by federal appeals court as the state of Louisiana, where he was imprisoned, lodged a challenge against his release.

Woodfox said in a statement. “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges,” he said. “I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Woodfox’s legal team described his solitary confinement as “cruel and inhumane”.