Dr.Jack Kevorkian, a longtime advocate of assisted suicide, was released from a Michigan prison Friday after serving eight years for second-degree murder.

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Dr. Jack Kevorkian speaks briefly to reporters during his release from a Michigan prison Friday. ((CBC))

Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, was jailed in 1999 after helping a terminally ill patient die.

"After eight years, it feels wonderful," a smiling Kevorkian told a crush of reporters waiting outside the prison in Coldwater.

Kevorkian called his release "one of the high points of life." He kept his comments brief while his lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, saida news conference would be held next week.

"He thanks everyone for coming," Morganroth said. "He just wants a little bit of privacy for the next few days."

A jury convictedKevorkian in the death of Thomas Youk, a 52-year-oldwith Lou Gehrig's disease.

Kevorkian was given a 10- to 25-year sentence, butwas released early for good behaviour.

Before his conviction, police charged Kevorkian in a number of deaths, but juries repeatedly let him off.

Kevorkian, who gained the moniker Dr. Death, has said he helped at least 130 people die from 1990 to 1998. Many who sought his assistance were not terminally ill.

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Dr. Jack Kevorkian points to his head while arguing a point in court during his trial at the Oakland County Court in Pontiac, Mich., on March 23, 1999. ((Tom Pidgeon/Associated Press))

Despite his prison sentence, Kevorkian recently made it clear his views on the issue of assisted suicide have not changed.

"It's got to be legalized. That's the point," he told WJBK-TV in Detroit. "I'll work to have it legalized. But I won't break any laws doing it."

Kevorkian will be on parole for two years. One of the conditions he must meet is that he can't help anyone else die.

Can't provide care for anyone over 62

He is also prohibited from providing care for anyone older than 62 or is disabled. He could go back to prison if he violates his parole.

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Bobbi Schirk holds up a sign in support of Jack Kevorkian, who was released from the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Mich., on Friday. ((Paul Sancya/Associated Press) )

Assisted suicide has occurred when a person — typicallysomeone suffering from an incurable illness or chronic intense pain — intentionally kills himself or herself with the help of another individual.

Canada and the United States have long outlawed assisted suicide, charging people who help others kill themselves with murder, manslaughter and other offences.

With files from the Associated Press