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Michael Cohen will be released from prison to home confinement, judge rules

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, walks along a sidewalk in New York on April 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

 (CNN) — Michael Cohen will be released to home confinement, a judge ruled on Thursday, finding that the government acted in a retaliatory manner when it took President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer into custody earlier this month.

“The purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory and its retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his first amendment rights to publish a book and discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and others,” Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled during a telephonic hearing.

Cohen, who has been held in solitary confinement at federal prison in Otisville, New York, since he was remanded on July 9, will be released by 2 p.m. ET Friday after he takes a test for the coronavirus.

Cohen and prosecutors will have one week to negotiate the terms of his release as it relates to his involvement with the media.

“Just as you wouldn’t have a press conference from a jail cell, you shouldn’t be able to have a press conference from your home. You can communicate, you can discuss, you can post on social media, but you can’t make a confinement into a free person. You can’t make a person confined in jail or at home into totally free person. There’s got to be a limit,” Hellerstein said.

Cohen’s attorney called the judge’s order a “victory for the First Amendment.”

The ruling confirms “that the government cannot block Mr. Cohen from publishing a book critical of the president as a condition of his release to home confinement,” Danya Perry, who argued on behalf of Cohen at the hearing, said in a statement. “This principle transcends politics and we are gratified that the rule of law prevails.”

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