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Pakistani court bans AQ Khan's free movement

The Lahore High Court (LHC) banned the free movement of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist who mentored Pakistan's nuclear programme but was later accused of proliferating the country's nuclear technology, a media report said.

world Updated: Jan 25, 2010 23:26 IST

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday banned the free movement of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist who mentored Pakistan's nuclear programme but was later accused of proliferating the country's nuclear technology, a media report said.

During the hearing on a petition seeking a ban on Khan's free movement, the government contended that he had violated an agreement governing his release from house arrest last year by giving an interview to a foreign media outlet that had put national integrity in jeopardy, Online news agency reported, quoting a private TV channel.

The government also said that no information would be provided to the media about the current hearing keeping in view national security.

The court later adjourned the hearing till February 3.

In a petition filed in the Lahore High Court on Jan 19, the government said Khan's free movement should be banned as he was a threat to national security, having shared sensitive information with the international media.

The petition said Khan should be kept under constant surveillance by the authorities and a security escort should be assigned to him.

In February 2009, the Islamabad High Court had lifted Khan's house arrest that was imposed in 2004 after he "confessed" on national television to the proliferation charges.

"These things happen. We should forget and look forward," Khan had said after the verdict, noting that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also been "inside" (jail).

In an interview to IANS in May 2008, Khan claimed that he never sold nuclear technology illegally and that he should have never made a confession to that effect.

Describing himself as "an innocent man", Khan said that Pakistan's nuclear assets and weapons were "quite safe" and they could not be taken out of the country.

The civilian government that came to power in March 2008, had eased the restrictions placed on Khan.

Khan said he was "forced" by "some elements" in the then Pervez Musharraf-led government to confess to presiding over an illegal network supplying nuclear technology to countries such as North Korea and Libya.

He said he was told this would be in national interest. "I think the confession was my mistake."

Soon after his January confession, Khan was pardoned by Musharraf but placed under house arrest.

Khan was born in India and went over to Pakistan in 1952, five years after the subcontinent was partitioned.