A Pakistani court has upheld the detention of nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and barred him from ever speaking about nuclear proliferation. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that government lawyers say the ruling silencing the confessed nuclear proliferator is in the best interests of Pakistan.
After admitting in 2004 that he alone was responsible for transmitting nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, A.Q. Khan disappeared from public view and was confined to his home in Islamabad.
Beginning in May, the founder of the country's nuclear program granted a string of media interviews in which he rejected his confession and claimed top army officials knew about illegal nuclear technology sales to North Korea.
Khan's interviews drew enormous media coverage in Pakistan and brought renewed international attention to the country's role in nuclear proliferation.
But Deputy Attorney General Raja Abdul Rehman said the Islamabad High Court has ruled that maintaining a tight ring of security around Khan and barring him from ever discussing nuclear proliferation is in the best interest of the country.
"Consider the national importance of this issue: the services rendered by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the pardon granted to him by the president and his assurance that the proliferation issue will be a closed chapter for all time to come," he said.
The ruling explicitly forbids Khan from discussing proliferation with the news media or even his own family.
A.Q. Khan remains a hero to many Pakistanis because of his central role in creating the country's nuclear arsenal. There have also been concerns about the 72-year-old's health after he underwent surgery for prostate cancer last year.
The new ruling grants him access to medical care, allows him to receive visitors and travel freely within Pakistan, as long as security officials give their approval.
Khan's lawyer told reporters in Islamabad the court ruling gives his client some relief from his house detention, even though his visitors or trips must still be approved by security officials.
The ruling also appears to address Khan's previously undefined legal status. His supporters have argued that there was no legal basis for his four years of house arrest. Khan's lawyer, Javed Iqbal Khan, says the new ruling legally establishes that his client is a detainee.