Hours after his release from Kaliti prison Thursday evening, a very subdued Tewodros Kassahun, (more popularly known as Teddy Afro) told VOA, "I want to thank all of the Ethiopian people, all who prayed for me and were thinking of me while I was in prison."
Teddy spoke as he stood in a private home in Addis, surrounded by friends and family who had gathered to welcome to freedom for one of Ethiopia's most popular singers.
"I am thinking of you, I love you, I respect you," he said.
As Teddy spoke telephones rang nonstop as calls came in from the United States, from Sweden, from Holland and other countries for the 33-year-old Ethiopian pop icon.
Officials released Teddy early because of credits he received for good behavior. He served 16 months in prison. He was found guilty by an Ethiopian judge of manslaughter stemming from a 2006 hit-and-run accident in which an 18-year-old homeless man died.
In a highly publicized trial that ended with a controversial verdict, Teddy was sentenced to six years in prison and 18,000 birr fine. Later, the six year prison term was reduced to two.
During the trial, hundreds of fans surrounded the court and sang many of Teddy's songs, including his popular song Ysteseryal - a tune that some consider is critical of the government and one of the reason that he was arrested and tried in court.