Pakistan keeps restrictions on nuclear scientist

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A Pakistani court has kept in place restrictions on a scientist who allegedly leaked nuclear weapons technology secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. AQ Khan was detained in 2003 and has been under de facto house arrest since.

The court said he still could not talk about nuclear technology and must tell security agencies if he leaves his home.

The father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, Khan was at the centre of the world's biggest nuclear proliferation scandal in 2004 when he confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Last year, the government relaxed restrictions on the nuclear scientist after five years of house arrest following revelations about his role in the nuclear smuggling. He was still barred him from talking to the media and required to travel with security guards.

"The court maintained the original order (on restrictions on Khan's movement)," said Attorney General Anwar Masoor. Khan had filed a petition challenging the government's stand that the restrictions had been placed for his own safety.

Khan was earlier also required to give 24 hours' notice to authorities before leaving his home.

In a small concession, the Lahore High Court on Monday reduced the reporting requirement to 30 minutes but kept the restrictions on talking to the media about nuclear proliferation or the Pakistani weapons programme.

Khan's lawyer, Ali Zafar, said his client would be a "free man" as long as he informed the government about his movement.

In a related ruling, the court rejected a government petition filed earlier this month seeking to open an investigation on charges that Khan tried to sell nuclear secrets and equipment to Iraq and Iran in the 1990s.