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A Q Khan 'free citizen': Pak court

Disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan is a "free citizen", a Pakistan court declared today and ruled that authorities cannot not restrict his movements or activities within the country.

world Updated: May 28, 2010 15:51 IST

Disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan is a "free citizen", a Pakistan court declared today and ruled that authorities cannot not restrict his movements or activities within the country.

Acting on a petition filed by Khan challenging restrictions imposed on him by the government, Justice Ijaz Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court declared him a "free citizen".

Khan can move freely within Pakistan, the judge said.

"(Khan) can move freely and continue his activities," Justice Chaudhry said while wrapping up the hearing of Khan's petition.

While holding the authorities responsible for providing security to the scientist, the judge directed the government to implement an agreement with Khan on his movements in "letter and spirit".

The government's lawyer assured the court that this agreement would be implemented.

Justice Chaudhry directed the Attorney General, the federal government's top legal officer, to remain in contact with Khan in order to address his grievances and to ensure his free movement.

In an earlier hearing, Khan's counsel Syed Ali Zafar had told the court that the government was illegally restricting the scientist's movements in the name of security.

Zafar claimed an agreement signed by the government and Khan during the tenure of former Attorney General Anwar Mansoor had been violated.

Talking to reporters outside his heavily guarded residence in Islamabad after the court gave its ruling, Khan said: "Let's see if the verdict is implemented. If it is not, I will take action for contempt of court."

Khan was put under house arrest in early 2004 after he admitted on state-run TV to running a clandestine nuclear proliferation ring.

He later recanted that confession, saying it was made under pressure from the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

The Pakistan People's Party-led government eased restrictions on Khan after coming to power in 2008 though military authorities continue to keep a close eye on the scientist.

Pakistan has also refused to give international investigators access to Khan, saying his activities are a "closed chapter".