DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Bangladesh's president has pardoned an American woman three years into her life prison sentence for smuggling 7 pounds of heroin, a prison official said Monday.

Eliadah McCord of Houston will be released from a Dhaka prison by Tuesday, said Aminur Rahman, deputy inspector general of prisons.

She is expected to be escorted back to the United States by Rep. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., who visited Bangladesh in February to intercede on her behalf.

McCord, 23, was arrested at the Dhaka airport in 1992 and was convicted a year later.

She has said she did not know that four packages given her by Nigerian Robert Blankson contained heroin. Blankson also was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Rahman said he received an order from the Home Ministry on Sunday saying McCord had been pardoned by President Abdur Rahman Biswas, two months before Biswas is to leave office.

The pardon came three weeks after the Supreme Court turned down an appeal by McCord.

Bangladeshi law calls for a minimum of two years in prison for possessing heroin. Those found smuggling more than 25 grams, or 0.9 ounces, are given either life terms or the death sentence.

Richardson has succeeded in other attempts to win freedom for prisoners, including a U.S. helicopter pilot shot down over North Korea in 1994 and two Americans held in an Iraqi jail.