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Former UK soldier appears in court accused of prison escape

FILE PHOTO: Police search for former soldier suspected of terrorism offences after prison escape, in London

LONDON (Reuters) - A former British soldier, who has been accused of offences relating to terrorism and the Official Secrets Act, appeared in court on Monday charged with breaking out of prison last week and going on the run.

Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, escaped last Wednesday from London's Wandsworth prison, where he was being held ahead of his trial for the other offences, by attaching himself to the underside of a food delivery truck using makeshift straps possibly made from bed sheets, prosecutors say.

It led to a four-day nationwide manhunt which ended on Saturday when police said he was recaptured in west London while cycling alongside a canal by a plain clothes officer.

Khalife, wearing a grey sweatshirt and tracksuit trousers, appeared at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday to face a charge of 'escape from lawful custody'.

Flanked by two police officers in the dock, he spoke only to confirm his name and age. His lawyer said there was no indication of how he intended to plead at this stage, and Khalife was remanded in custody with his next hearing at London's Old Bailey on Sept. 29

Khalife was already facing a charge of eliciting or trying to elicit information about the armed forces likely to be useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism while he was based at barracks in central England in 2021.

He is also accused with staging a bomb hoax by placing three canisters with wires on a desk and obtaining information which might be "directly or indirectly useful to an enemy". The BBC has reported he was accused of gathering intelligence for Iran.

He is due to go on trial on those charges at Woolwich Crown Court on Nov. 13.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by William James)