Lee Murray, the onetime UFC fighter who allegedly masterminded the largest non-wartime cash heist in history, has been released from the Moroccan prison that has been holding him since his 2006 arrest, according to a report from ESPN The Magazine investigative writer Shaun Assael.
His sudden freedom apparently came as a surprise even to those close to him. According to the story, Murray's Moroccan lawyer Abdellah Benlamhidi sent his assistant to visit his client on Wednesday, only to be told he had been released.
The Feb. 22, 2006 Securitas bank depot heist Tonbridge, England netted thieves over £53 million pounds, or the equivalent of over $92 million US at the time.
Five of the seven men who were involved in the direct raid have been sentenced for their crime, while a sixth is still awaiting trial. Murray is the only one who has escaped the grasp of the UK legal system.
Shortly after the robbery, Murray fled to Morocco and claimed citizenship in hopes of stiff-arming any attempts to extradite him. His father, Ibrahim Murray, is Moroccan, and though Murray was born in the UK, Moroccan law holds that its citizens can not be extradited, no matter what the crime.
Murray was arrested in Rabat, Morocco for cocaine possession in 2006 and sentenced to eight months. Since then, he has been held in prison while authorities determined his citizenship, and ultimately, his extradition status. In February 2007, British authorities offered to exchange suspected terrorist Mohmed Karbouzi for Murray, whom they considered the ringleader of the heist.
Ironically, just over a week ago, it was reported that Murray tried to escape from prison after small saws were found in his cell.
The 31-year-old was 8-2 with one no contest and one no decision in his career, and once went the distance in a loss to current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. In his only UFC fight, he defeated Jorge Rivera by triangle choke at UFC 46. Murray was invited back to the UFC but was never able to return and fight in the U.S. because of visa problems.
Murray gained a measure of cult fame in the MMA world before ever debuting in the UFC for his role in a London street fight with ex-UFC champion Tito Ortiz. In September 2005 -- just months before the heist -- Murray nearly died in a nightclub stabbing.
In 2008, a Sports Illustrated story written by L. Jon Wertheim detailed the Securitas robbery, and Time, Inc. soon after announced that they had optioned the film rights to the story.
Murray's current whereabouts are unknown, but he remains a wanted man in the UK.
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