KHAN
AP
A.Q. Khan, founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, shown in an undated photo. In 2004, Khan admitted to having sold Pakistan's nuclear secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.
By Investigative Unit Producer
NBC News
updated 10/3/2006 2:49:38 PM ET 2006-10-03T18:49:38

Speaking out for the first time, Dina Khan — daughter of Dr. A.Q. Khan, the so-called "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb — issued a statement Monday dismissing claims made by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in his new book, "In the Line of Fire."

In his book, Musharraf wrote that Khan sent a letter to Dina in London, asking her to "go public on Pakistan's nuclear secrets" by giving the information to the British media.

In a statement provided to NBC News, Dina Khan said Musharraf’s claim is "utterly ludicrous." She says she and her family had chosen not to speak to media since her father's arrest in 2004, "in an effort to make my father's life as comfortable as possible and keep him safe."

The timing of her statement is a direct response to the allegations leveled by Musharraf in his book, which has garnered attention since its release in late September coincided with the president’s stateside visit to the U.N. General Assembly and the White House, and is currently one of Amazon.com's top 20 sellers. Dina Khan says she's chosen this time, "to set the record straight."

It is the first time a member of Khan's family has commented publicly on the scandal surrounding his arrest or his current situation.

In February 2004, Khan admitted to selling nuclear secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran and publicly apologized for his actions, taking sole responsibility. He was granted an official pardon the following day by Musharraf.

Khan, currently recuperating from prostate cancer surgery, has been confined to his home in the capital city of Islamabad since then, under the watch of government officials and security agents. Musharraf claims Khan is kept there under "protective custody," but some senior Pakistani officials and Dina Khan say her father’s situation really amounts to house arrest.

Under watch
While she denies possessing a letter from her father asking to leak information to British media, Dina Khan does say she has a copy of a letter her father gave her in late 2003-early 2004. The letter, according to Dina Khan, gave her father's version of what actually happened, and was to be released in the event that he was killed or disappeared.

According to Dina Khan’s statement, her father gave her this letter at the time because "he was worried that he was going to be made to take the fall for the erupting nuclear scandal (a fear which later proved correct)."

Dina Khan says the letter "mentioned people and places, but had absolutely NO nuclear blueprints or information." She wrote that she was even questioned by British intelligence about this letter, and was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Pakistani intelligence officials have been interrogating Khan since his arrest to help determine the extent of his nuclear proliferation. According to Pakistani officials, that information is being shared with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and "key countries," including the U.S.

But to date, neither C.I.A. nor IAEA investigators have been granted direct access to Khan. According to a senior IAEA official, the agency requested access and was denied by Pakistan. C.I.A. officials also have an interest in questioning Khan, particularly to gather additional information about his deals with Iran.

More to come?
Since the scandal broke over two years ago, some reports have suggested that the scope of Khan's proliferation, and the amount of time it seemed to go on, would have been impossible without some level of knowledge or cooperation among senior Pakistani officials.

Some have even claimed that C.I.A. and I.A.E.A. officials have deliberately been kept from direct access to Dr. Khan because of information he could potentially provide that would implicate others in positions of power in Pakistan.

Though Musharraf deemed the investigation into the nuclear scandal "officially closed," in May 2006, Dina Khan claims the situation for her father has remained unchanged.

In her statement, Dina Khan wrote, "the mistake my father made was in being far too vocal in his opinions about those in power, and as a result he is now paying the price."

She calls the official pardon from Musharraf, "a complete farce," and says her family remains under intense scrutiny by Pakistani officials. "Our mail is opened, our mobiles are tapped and our house is bugged," she writes.

"Perhaps," she writes, "the hope is to have him rot at quietly at home, forgotten by all. That will never happen. The truth will come out eventually, as it always does."

Amna Nawaz is a Producer for NBC News Investigative Unit based in Washington, D.C.

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