Pakistan nuclear scientist hopes to be freed - Emirates24|7

Pakistan nuclear scientist hopes to be freed


Pakistan's disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan termed his detention as "irrational" in a newspaper interview published on Wednesday, and said he hoped the new government would free him soon.

Khan was put under house arrest by President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad after an investigation was launched in late 2003 and he confessed on television in early 2004 to passing nuclear secrets and materials to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Lionised by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb, Khan escaped more severe punishment.

Khan's admirers want the new coalition government, which took power after the defeat of pro-Musharraf parties in a February 18 election, to free their hero.

In an interview with the Urdu-language Nawa-i-Waqt, also carried by sister publication The Nation, Khan rejected the impression he was kept under detention for his own security.

"It is nothing but a lame excuse," Khan was quoted as saying in an interview carried out on his birthday. Khan turned 72 on Monday.

"It is simply irrational. I was roaming around the world freely at times when in 1979 numerous fake cases had been registered against me in Holland and I faced no security threat."

Khan is said to have stolen European plans for centrifuges needed to produce enriched uranium, a key ingredient in nuclear arms, while working in the 1970s at the Dutch partner in URENCO.

He was convicted of nuclear espionage by a Dutch court in 1983 and sentenced to four years in jail, although the decision was later overturned on a technicality.

The Pakistan People's Party of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is leading the new government, and the party of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister Musharraf deposed, is its main coalition partner. (Reuters)