KATONAH, N.Y. (AP) – Unless she gets into trouble with her probation officer again, Martha Stewart will gain her freedom this week from her “hideous” home confinement sentence and that bothersome, unstylish electronic anklet.

After five months in prison for lying about a stock sale and five months of court-ordered restrictions at her Westchester County estate – plus three weeks tacked on for misbehaving – the queen of domestic marketing should be able to move around like any other convicted felon who’s done her time.

If she’s still under constant surveillance after Wednesday’s release, it’ll be the paparazzi, not the feds.

Stewart will still be on probation, but will no longer be limited to 48 hours out of the house per week. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, is looking forward to having her back, “working without restriction,” said a company spokeswoman, Elizabeth Estroff.

Stewart had expected to shed the anklet on Aug. 10, but on Aug. 3, her 64th birthday, her lawyer announced that she had agreed to an extension.

The violation that got her the extra time was never made public, although there were reports that she popped into a yoga class and was spotted driving around her 153-acre estate, which could be violations if they were not related to her work.

Chris Stanton, chief federal probation officer in New York, would not say if other violations had surfaced.

Stewart said Thursday that she was “very much looking forward” to being freed from home confinement. “But I still have a year and a half of probation, so I won’t be making any comment.”

The continuing probation means that until March 2007 Stewart is not allowed to get drunk, own a gun or leave the federal court district (for her other homes in Connecticut, Maine and the Hamptons, for example) without permission. She must meet with her probation officer whenever requested and submit monthly reports on her activities. She can’t associate with other convicted felons, unless she wants to become an informer.

If she does violate the rules and gets caught, the terms of her probation would likely be tightened, including a return to home confinement, electronic anklet and all, Stanton said.

Stewart has described home confinement as “hideous” and says the electronic anklet irritates her skin and complicates her exercise routine.

In an Internet chat with fans, she said: “I hope none of you ever has to wear one.”

Despite the electronic shackle, Stewart has been active, especially in her flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living, where she’s been writing about cooking mussels, choosing paint colors, sifting flour and determining whether yeast is fresh.

Freed from home confinement, she’ll be much more visible – with two new television shows.

“Martha,” her syndicated weekday lifestyles show premieres Sept. 12. “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” a weekly NBC prime-time series, premieres Sept. 21.

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