VATICAN CITY Pope Francis has commuted the jail sentence of a Spanish priest who was convicted of leaking Vatican documents and ordered that he be released from jail, the Vatican said on Tuesday.
Monsigor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda was sentenced to 18 months in a Vatican jail last July at the end of a trial dubbed "Vatileaks II".
A statement said the pontiff took the step because Vallejo Balda, 55, had already served more than half of his sentence. He would leave the employ of the Vatican and be put under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Astorga in his native Spain.
It said he would be under "provisional liberty" for the rest of his sentence, without elaborating. It gave no further details.
At the trial, the court cleared two Italian journalists who had been charged with publishing leaked documents in books that claimed the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church was riddled with graft.
Italian public relations expert Francesca Chaouqui was given a 10-month suspended sentence. She and Vallejo Balda were both members of a now-defunct papal reform commission investigating Vatican finances.
The act of clemency by Francis during the Christmas period was reminiscent of when his predecessor Pope Benedict, in December 2012, pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele.
Gabriele had been convicted of leaking some of Benedict's personal documents in what was known as the first "Vatileaks" case.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)