LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) – A Pakistani court on Wednesday suspended an earlier order lifting restrictions on the movement of nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is alleged to have spread nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
Deputy Attorney General Mohammed Amir Rehman said a two-member panel of the Lahore High Court issued the interim ruling following an appeal from the Pakistan government. The court has scheduled another hearing for Sept. 15, he said.
A judge of the Lahore High Court issued an interim order last week asking the government and police to lift all restrictions on Khan’s movement. That ruling was in response to a petition by Khan, and raised concern among U.S. officials, who consider him a proliferation risk.
Khan was detained in December 2003 and admitted on television in early 2004 to sole responsibility for operating a network that spread nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He has since retracted that statement. He was pardoned by then President Pervez Musharraf, but immediately placed under de facto house arrest.
In February, the Islamabad High Court announced he was a “free citizen,” subject to a confidential accord struck with the government. Since then, he has had to tell authorities of his travel plans, get permission for guests to visit him at home, and intelligence agents and security officials have maintained a heavy presence outside his house, prompting him to launch the petition.
The government says the restrictions are necessary for his own safety.
Khan’s lawyer Ali Zafar said he heard about Wednesday’s court order through the media, but had no details.