Malaysian popular opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim is free for the first time since 2014 after receiving a royal pardon for a sodomy conviction supporters believe was trumped up and politically motivated.

Events are unfolding quickly in Malaysia, where new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was swept into power after a stunning election victory last week that ended the former ruling party's 60-year run on power.  The 92-year old Mahathir needed the support of the popular Mr. Anwar to win, and thus struck a deal to govern only for one or two years.  After that, the plan is to hand off power to Anwar.

This is a major change in fortunes for the 70-year old Anwar, whose roller coast ride in politics has included a total of eleven years in prison from three convictions. 

The first conviction came from political protests.  From there, he became Mahathir's protege in the 1980s and moved up the ranks to Deputy PM.  But the two fell out in 1998 over cronyism and an economic crisis, and Mahathir had Anwar jailed for sodomy.  He was released in 2004 and reentered politics as an opposition leader in 2008.

Fearing his popularity, the government again put him on trial for sodomy in a case that lasted for two years.  Anwar was acquitted, then ran again as opposition leader in the 2013 elections.  In that contest he got the most votes but still lost to Najib Razak, who had the acquittal overturned.  Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison, and that's where he was until today when Malaysia's king pardoned him on the basis the conviction was a "miscarriage of justice".  In each prosecution, Anwar denied the charges.