Van Wilder actor ERIK AUDE is celebrating Christmas like never before after being released from a Pakistani jail.

The California actor was released by Pakistani authorities on Christmas Day (25DEC04) after serving almost three years of a seven-year drug trafficking sentence in Islamabad.

Aude, a part-time fitness instructor, was arrested and imprisoned in February 2002 after leather jackets he was picking up for a colleague in America turned out to contain drug packages.

Aude's conviction was overturned just before his release last week (ends24DEC04) after the man who employed the actor to illegally pick up his drugs was arrested at Los Angeles' LAX airport.

Aude's mother SHERRY, who has been fighting her son's conviction from her home in Lancaster, California, says, "It's like a gift to all of us."

The actor was expected to be back home yesterday (26DEC04).

27/12/2004 01:37