Pak court bans AQ Khan from giving media interviews

Last Updated: Monday, March 29, 2010 - 15:41

Lahore: In a setback to disgraced atomic
scientist AQ Khan, A Pakistani court on Monday restrained him
from talking to the media on the country`s nuclear programme
and leaking sensitive information.

In its judgement in response to a petition filed by
74-year-old Khan seeking the removal of restrictions on his
movement, the Lahore High Court ruled that Khan was not
allowed to talk about nuclear weapons technology.

However, the court lifted restrictions on Khan`s free
movement and directed the federal government to provide him
security so they can accompany him wherever he goes.

"AQ Khan is a free man now and the government will
provide him security," Ali Zafar, the scientist`s lawyer, told
reporters.

Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry gave the judgment during
in-camera proceedings. He had earlier deferred his verdict
three times and asked Khan and the government to settle the
matter out of court.

During the hearing, the government filed two petitions one seeking restrictions on the free movement of the
scientist and restraining him from giving interviews and
another seeking permission to probe claims attributed to Khan
by The Washington Post about the transfer of nuclear secrets
to Iran and Iraq.

Khan also submitted an affidavit today in which he
claimed he had not given any interview to The Washington Post
or other publications regarding Pakistan`s nuclear programme.

During today`s proceedings, the Attorney General said
the federal government will ensure the "free movement" of Khan
and provide him foolproof security.

He said Khan will have to inform the government 30
minutes in advance if he travels within Islamabad and a day
before his movements outside the federal capital.

The Pakistan government has been facing immense
pressure from the US to restrict Khan`s movements and to
restrain him from interacting with media.

In two recent reports, The Washington Post reported
that Khan had tried to help Iran and Iraq develop nuclear
weapons and those deals allegedly occurred with the knowledge
of the then government.

The government said the contents of these reports had
national security implications for Pakistan, as they contained
certain allegations related to the nuclear programme and
atomic cooperation.

Further, the articles were an attempt to affect
friendly ties with Iran and Iraq, the government lawyer said.
The now defunct Islamabad High Court too had declared
Khan a "free man" following a tacit agreement between the
scientist and security agencies.

However, Khan was not satisfied with this arrangement
and approached the Lahore High Court for the removal of all
restrictions imposed on him.

Khan, who was detained in December 2003, admitted on
television that he operated a network that spread nuclear
weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Khan, regarded by Pakistanis as a hero for building
the country`s first nuclear weapon, was pardoned by the then
President Pervez Musharraf, but immediately placed under house
arrest.

The scientist later retracted from his televised
statement and has since challenged government imposed
restrictions on him in the courts.

PTI



First Published: Monday, March 29, 2010 - 15:41

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