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Escaped prisoner may have used sheets to tie himself to a truck, British prosecutors say

LONDON (AP) — A former British soldier who escaped from prison may have sneaked out by tying himself with sheets to the bottom of a food truck, prosecutors said Monday.

Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, was arrested on Saturday while cycling on a canal towpath in west London after a four-day manhunt. Khalife escaped on Wednesday from Wandsworth Prison, a medium-security prison in southwest London, where he was awaiting trial on charges of terrorism and attempting to spy for a hostile state.

The ex-soldier appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday for a brief hearing, speaking only to confirm his name and date of birth. After the hearing he was taken into custody.

Prosecutor Thomas Williams said Khalife, who had a job in the prison kitchen, allegedly escaped by tying himself to the catering van using “material possibly derived from bedding.”

He said police found the equipment under the truck, with clips on each end and markings indicating someone had been there.

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Khalife was awaiting trial on charges of breaching Britain’s Official Secrets Act by collecting information “might be useful to an enemy” and planting fake bombs on a military base. He was discharged from the British Army after his arrest earlier this year and denied the allegations. His trial was scheduled for November.

He is also charged with escaping custody and is expected to appear for another hearing at the Central Criminal Court on September 29.

The escape prompted helicopter searches in London and extra security checks at major transport hubs, especially in and around the port of Dover, the main boat crossing from England to France.

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