By Diana Magnay and Olga Pavlova
MOSCOW (CNN) -- Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky has arrived in Germany after Russian President Vladimir Putin released him Friday following more than 10 years in prison, the German Foreign Ministry said.
Khodorkovsky's son, Pavel, told CNN in a text message that he flew to Germany to meet his father.
In a statement following his release, Khodorkovsky said he asked Putin to pardon him on November 12, "and I am glad his decision was positive." He further said "the issue of admission of guilt was not raised" in the discussion.
He went on to personally thank those who followed his case and supported him and said he was "constantly thinking of those who continue to remain imprisoned."
"I am very much looking forward to the minute when I will be able to hug my close ones and personally shake hands with all my friends and associates," he said. "I will welcome the opportunity to celebrate this upcoming holiday season with my family. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"
Putin signed an amnesty decree for the former Yukos oil tycoon earlier in the day.
Putin's signature came a day after he announced that he planned to pardon Khodorkovsky.
The oil magnate, who backed an opposition party, had been in prison since 2003 and was convicted in 2005 of tax evasion and fraud. He was due for release in 2014.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Putin said Khodorkovsky had written a letter appealing for a pardon, citing humanitarian factors.
A statement Thursday on a website set up in support of Khodorkovsky said that it could not confirm plans for a pardon but "all of his family and supporters would of course be elated to see him finally free after ten years of imprisonment."
Putin's announcement came a day after Russian lawmakers backed a sweeping amnesty law.
The amnesty, to mark the anniversary of the adoption in 1993 of Russia's post-Communist constitution, will be applied to thousands of Russian prisoners, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
It comes at a time when Russia's human rights record is in the spotlight, as the country prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.
Russia has faced international criticism for its treatment of Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, with countries including the United States accusing it of selective prosecution and abuse of the legal system.
He has said his prosecution was part of a Kremlin campaign to destroy him and take control of the company he built from privatization deals of the 1990s.
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