A federal judge Friday loosened the restrictions on John W. Hinckley Jr., allowing the hospitalized presidential assailant to spend seven overnight visits with his parents in Williamsburg, Va.

Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, had been permitted to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington for outings around the nation's capital. He wanted to make longer trips and travel outside the area to his parents' community in southeastern Virginia.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled Hinckley could be allowed three, three-night visits and another four, four-night visits.

"He is not permitted to leave one or both parents' supervision at any time during the course of the conditional release" except when the hospital deems it necessary, Friedman ruled.

The government had opposed Hinckley's requests to visit Williamsburg, a three-hour drive from the forensic hospital where he has been held since 1982.

When Hinckley shot Reagan and three other people in 1981 as the president emerged from a downtown hotel, he was suffering from major depression and a psychotic disorder that led to an obsession with actress Jodie Foster.

Hinckley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, said he shot Reagan to impress Foster.

His doctors have said his depression and psychosis are in full remission.

Since last year, Hinckley has been allowed occasional local overnight visits with his parents within a 50-mile radius of St. Elizabeths Hospital.