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Pakistani court to lift curbs on AQ Khan

Last Updated: Friday, August 28, 2009 - 14:15

Islamabad: A Pakistani court on Friday ordered the government to lift any remaining restrictions on a scientist alleged to have spread nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, his lawyer said.
The ruling in the case of scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan could stir alarm in the United States, which still regards him as a proliferation risk.

Khan`s lawyer, Ali Zafar, said the Lahore High Court ruled that "nobody can restrict the movement of AQ Khan" and that notices had been issued to the police and government asking them to explain why they were continuing to do so.

"It is excellent and heart warming and very gratifying," Khan told reporters gathered at his house. "I think the people who have been involved in playing mischief with me will get the message and allow me live a peaceful, private life as a citizen."

It was unclear whether authorities would obey the decision. Judges and government officials were not available for comment.

Khan was detained in December 2003 and admitted on television in early 2004 that he operated a network that spread nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He has since repeatedly retracted that statement.

He was pardoned by then president Pervez Musharraf, but immediately placed under de facto house arrest.

In February, the Islamabad High Court announced he was a "free citizen”, subject to a confidential accord struck with the government.

Since then, he has had to tell authorities of his travel plans, get permission for guests to visit him at home and intelligence and agents and security officials have maintained a heavy presence outside his house.

The government says the restrictions were necessary for his own safety.

While reviled in the West, Khan is regarded as hero by many in Pakistan because he led the country`s efforts to produce a nuclear weapon.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, August 28, 2009 - 14:15
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