Detained Pakistani nuclear scientist meets lawyer

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan was allowed to meet his lawyer on Friday for the first time since he was detained four years ago, and the lawyer said he hoped to win Khan’s freedom soon.

File photo of disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan resting in a hospital in Karachi, September 10, 2006. Khan was allowed to meet his lawyer on Friday for the first time since he was detained four years ago, and the lawyer said he hoped to win Khan's freedom soon. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Khan, revered by many Pakistanis as the father of the country’s atomic bomb, was placed under house arrest in Islamabad in 2004 soon after a televised confession to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Lawyer Mohammad Iqbal Jaffry went to met Khan at his guarded home in a leafy Islamabad neighbourhood, where authorities say Khan is being detained for his own safety.

After the meeting, Khan came out of his home with his wife and waved to television cameras and reporters on the street outside, the first time he has been seen since he was detained.

Jaffry, who is fighting a case in court aiming to win Khan’s freedom, said he was optimistic about the outcome.

“We’ll win this case because government lawyers have no proof to prove my client’s house arrest legal. It’s a simple case of habeas corpus,” Jaffry said.

Pakistan’s new coalition government, made up of parties that defeated allies of President Pervez Musharraf in a February election, recently relaxed some restrictions on Khan’s detention and he has been able to talk to the media on the telephone.

But the government has not said it would release him.

Khan, 72, underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2006.

Last month, Khan’s friends and supporters said they would launch a nationwide campaign to press for his release.

Khan has denied being involved in nuclear proliferation and dismissed as lies a report by the Institute for Science and International Security that he was the source of sophisticated warhead designs found on the computers of Swiss smugglers.

U.S. and other foreign investigators looking into nuclear proliferation want to question Khan but the government has blocked access to him, saying it has shared information gleaned from him with the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Pakistan says it considers its investigation of Khan, who was pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf, to be closed.