VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict has pardoned Paolo Gabriele, his former butler who was convicted in October of leaking sensitive documents that alleged corruption in the Holy See, the Vatican said on Saturday.
The Vatican said the pope visited Gabriele in the Vatican's jail on Saturday morning to tell him personally of the pardon. Gabriele was then released and had already returned to his family, the Vatican said.
Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft on October 6 and had been serving an 18-month sentence in a Vatican jail cell.
He was arrested in May after Vatican police found many documents that had been stolen from the pope's office. He gave them to the media in what became known as "Vatileaks" and mushroomed into a major embarrassment for Benedict's pontificate.
The Vatican said he pope had also pardoned a second Vatican employee, Claudio Sciarpelletti, who was convicted of aiding and abetting Gabriele.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella)