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Musharraf Pardons Nuclear Scientist - 2004-02-05


Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has granted a pardon to the founder of the country's nuclear program - who has admitted passing nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. The president also said he would not allow international supervision of Pakistan's nuclear program.

President Musharraf says he pardoned Abdul Qadeer Khan because of his contribution to Pakistan's national security. During a news conference in Rawalpindi, President Musharraf called the scientist a national hero.

President Musharraf said the two-month long inquiry into the proliferation of nuclear secrets will not be passed on to any international agency and Mr. Khan will not be handed over to any other country for further interrogation.

The pardon follows Mr. Khan's dramatic confession and apology on television Wednesday, in which he absolved the government and fellow scientists of any responsibility for the leaks.

"I take full responsibility for my actions and seek your pardon. I give an assurance that such activities will never take place in future," he said.

Many in Pakistan believe Mr. Khan could not have sold nuclear secrets abroad without the knowledge of top military officials. Religious opposition groups say he has been made a scapegoat.

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