HEERHUGOWAARD, Netherlands (AP) _ A fugitive said he broke out of jail to escape widespread drug abuse among his fellow inmates, it was reported Thursday.

Maarten Ouwehand scaled a 10-foot wire mesh fence at the Westlinge medium- security prison Saturday after serving three months of a five-month sentence for fraud and selling stolen goods, according to the newspaper De Telegraaf.

Ouwehand told the newspaper he broke out because of the aggressive drug sales techniques in the prison in this northeastern Dutch town.

''Enough of the garbage was offered to me .... Because I didn't want any of that I ran away, just for my health's sake,'' Ouwehand said.

At least three-fourths of Westlinge's 200 inmates used illicit drugs such as heroin and sleeping pills, said Ouwehand, adding that a guard had encouraged him to escape.

Warden Jacob van den Berg told The Associated Press that ''Ouwehand ... has never discussed these problems'' with prison officials, and he accused the escapee of seizing upon the drug issue only after his breakout.

Van den Berg admitted that about a quarter of his inmates are addicted to drugs or alcohol, saying it is ''relatively easy to bring certain substances inside'' because of the medium-security regime.

Ouwehand told the newspaper that he had written to local police offering to surrender if he were guaranteed drug-free quarters during his detention.

Heerhugowaard police spokesman Willem Lens denied receipt of that message, but confirmed to The AP that Ouwehand was still on his wanted list.