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Following his sudden release from a Philippine jail Friday night, Lance Corp. Daniel Smith was to be held at the same U.S. Embassy facility where he remained during the duration of his rape trial, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

In a press release posted sometime Friday on the embassy Web site, embassy officials confirmed that Smith was transferred from the Makati City Jail in suburban Manila back to U.S. military custody. Smith reportedly was whisked from jail about 11 p.m. Friday.

The embassy statement said Smith’s transfer was consistent with the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement, an international bilateral agreement that is binding on both the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.

The Associated Press quoted embassy spokesman Matt Lussenhop on Saturday as saying the government of the Philippines made a decision to transfer Smith back to U.S. custody. Lussenhop and Smith’s attorney, Jose Justiniano, could not be reached by phone Saturday night.

The Court of Appeals had denied an immediate request by Smith’s lawyer and Philippine government officials to transfer custody of Smith back to the U.S. Embassy, rejecting a temporary restraining order against the decision by lower court Judge Benjamin Pozon to detain Smith during his appeal.

But justices had yet to rule on whether Smith legally belonged in U.S. custody during his appeal process.

On Dec. 4, Smith, 21, was convicted of raping a 23-year-old Philippine woman in the back of a moving van in 2005 at Subic Bay and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

His transfer back to U.S. custody sparked some protest in the Philippines. Reuters reported that about 50 members of women’s groups burned a U.S. flag in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila on Saturday in protest.

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