Pakistan court declares A.Q. Khan a 'free man'
AFP, February 6, 2009
ISLAMABAD (AFP) — A Pakistani court on Friday declared nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan a free man, five years after he was effectively put under house arrest for allegedly operating a proliferation network.
The chief justice of the Islamabad High Court, Sardar Mohammad Aslam, made the decision after a closed session with lawyers for the government and Khan -- revered by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb.
"The petitioner is declared a free citizen and writ petition is disposed of," said a written order issued by the court.
Khan has been effectively under house arrest in Islamabad since February 2004, when he confessed on television to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks.
Although military ruler and then president Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan in 2004, he was kept at his residence guarded by troops and intelligence agents.
Speaking on the grounds of his villa, tucked in one of Islamabad's smartest neighbourhoods, the scientist thanked President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, whose civilian government took office last March.
"This has happened because of the keen interest taken by the president and prime minister, and especially the advisor to the prime minister on the interior, Rehman Malik, who looked into the case and reviewed it," said Khan.
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