Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan was declared a free man, subject to some security measures, by a Pakistani court on Friday. But media reports claimed that the government had come to an out-of-court settlement on easing restrictions imposed on him.
Responding to a petition filed by Khan seeking the further easing of restrictions on him, the Islamabad High Court reiterated its judgment of some months ago that the scientist was a free citizen subject to some security measures.
The high court said Khan, who was accused of running a nuclear proliferation ring, could freely move around within the country and visit the Science Foundation for research. There is also no bar on close friends and relatives meeting him, it said.
However, TV channels reported that Khan had reached some sort of secret, out-of-court agreement with the government, on easing restrictions imposed on the scientist, after he admitted to running a nuclear proliferation ring in early 2004.
"I have received information about being a free man from TV channels," Khan was quoted as saying by the Dawn News channel.
"I think I am a free citizen now," Khan said, adding that he was still at home.
Khan has been under house arrest since early 2004, when he confessed to involvement in proliferating nuclear technology and know-how to countries like Libya and North Korea.
Last year, he retracted his confession about being involved in nuclear proliferation, saying it had been made under pressure.
In recent months, some of the restrictions imposed on him were eased slightly. He now writes a column on science and other issues in The News daily.