Lebanon's state-run news agency says a former minister convicted on terrorism charges has been released on bail.

Michel Samaha, an ex-minister of information and close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, was convicted by a Lebanese military court on charges of plotting bombings at the behest of Syria. He was sentenced in May to four-and-a-half years in prison.

In a surprise move, the court agreed Thursday to release Samaha on a $100,000 bail. He was banned from leaving the country pending a court verdict.

The move is sure to anger the anti-Syrian camp in Lebanon. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called the decision "shameful."

Lebanon, a country plagued by decades of strife, has been on edge because of the war in Syria, which has at times spilled over the border.