Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 11:03 UK

Curbs on nuclear scientist lifted

Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan at his home in Islamabad after a court verdict on Feb 6, 2009
Abdul Qadeer Khan has been under house arrest since 2004

A court in Pakistan has lifted the final restrictions on controversial nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, allowing him total freedom of movement.

Dr Khan, whose work helped Pakistan become a nuclear state, spent years under house arrest after he admitted selling off nuclear weapons secrets.

In February 2009 most restrictions on him were lifted, but he still had to notify authorities of his movements.

He subsequently filed a petition arguing for further freedoms.

Dr Khan confessed to transferring nuclear weapons technology to Libya, North Korea and Iran in 2004 but was later pardoned by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

He has since said that the charges against him were false and that his confession was "forced".

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that despite his confession and detention, Dr Khan remains very popular among many Pakistanis who regard him as a national hero.

But the "father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb" was placed under house arrest and not allowed to meet anyone.

This included US and IAEA experts who wanted to investigate the extent of his proliferation activities, our correspondent says.

The US has repeatedly said it wants to question Dr Khan, but Pakistan has always refused access.

'No limitations'

"Dr Khan can come and go anywhere as he pleases, and no one should prevent him from doing this," Justice Ejaz Ahmed, the presiding judge at Lahore high court, said in his remarks in court.

"We must implement the Islamabad high court's decision in spirit and letter.

"There should be no limitations on Dr Khan's movements and meetings."

I continue to be a prisoner despite having been released on court orders
AQ Khan

In his petition to Lahore's high court, Dr Khan argued, "I continue to be a prisoner despite having been released on court orders.

"The government has used the judgement of the Islamabad high court by limiting my movement under the guise of providing me security," he said.

The Lahore court is the highest judicial body of Pakistan's Punjab province.

It is not clear whether the authorities will heed the court's decision.

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