Malcolm X’s assassin freed from prison 45 years after killing

Malcolm X’s assassin has been freed from prison 45 years after gunning down the former Nation of Islam leader, New York officials have announced.

Thomas Hagan, 69, had been in a work-release program he started 1988. His parole was approved last month; he had been rejected 16 times previously.

In 1965, Hagan was known as Talmadge Hager, a  22-year-old militant member of the Nation of Islam, which Malcolm X had left the year before after disagreements with its founder, Elijah Muhammad. As Malcolm X spoke to a crowd of 400 in the Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, Hager rushed the stage and fired a sawed-off shotgun, hitting him in the chest. Two other men then fired handguns at Malcolm X, hitting him 16 times. Hagen was shot and beaten by members of the crowd as he tried to flee.

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Pictured: Portrait of American political activist and radical civil rights leader Malcolm X (1925 – 1965) as he holds an 8mm movie camera in London Airport, London, England, July 9, 1964. Shortly after breaking his affiliation with the Nation of Islam, and just days after his formation of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), Malcolm X was in London en route to Egypt to attend a meeting of the Organization of African Unity and to meet with the leaders of various African states. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images).