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Pakistan nuclear ‘godfather’ A.Q. Khan freed
Islambad, Aug 28 (Agencies):
Published on 28 Aug. 2009 11:17 PM IST
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A.Q. Khan, the ‘godfather’ of Pakistan’s nuclear programme accused of sharing technology with rogue states, has been granted full freedom from the terms of his house arrest by a court. His lawyer said a court had ordered the government to lift police restrictions on the scientist who is alleged to have spread nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. The ruling in the case of Abdul Qadeer Khan could stir alarm in the United States, which still regards him as a proliferation risk. Mr Khan’s lawyer, Ali Zafar, said the Lahore High Court ruled that “nobody can restrict the movement of A.Q. 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,” Mr Khan said. “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 the authorities would obey the decision. Mr Khan was detained in December 2003 and admitted on television in early 2004 that he operated a network that spread nuclear weapons technology. He has since repeatedly retracted that statement. He was pardoned by 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, apply for 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, Mr Khan is regarded as hero by many in Pakistan because he led the country’s efforts to produce a nuclear weapon.

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