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Sheila MacVicar: Pakistani nuclear scientists' release

CNN's Sheila MacVicar
CNN's Sheila MacVicar  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two nuclear scientists who had worked for the Pakistan government have been released from custody. They were under investigation for possible ties to the Taliban.

CNN's Sheila MacVicar filed the following report from Islamabad:

MACVICAR: These two men have undergone interrogation for a period of time off and on. They have been released before. Their release Thursday night, of course, is no indication that the investigation is finished.

The concern comes about because these two gentlemen, Bashiruddin Mahmood and Abdul Majeed, both had distinguished careers with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Mr. Mahmood was the director general of nuclear power plants, and Mr. Majeed was in charge of uranium enrichment labs.

Both retired some time ago and in retirement began a charity that was operating inside Afghanistan. This charity was doing a lot of things -- the kinds of normal things you might expect a charity to do. It was rebuilding schools, hospitals, providing medical supplies. But clearly in order to do that, both of these gentlemen had contact with the Taliban and that is where the concern is.

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CNN: And what is the chief concern?

MACVICAR: Obviously, there is a fear that perhaps these gentlemen could have somehow been operating with the Taliban, could have transferred technology, knowledge, perhaps even in the most extreme version of these events, nuclear material.

It's really important to state that the Pakistani government has been absolutely clear in saying they have no evidence and no belief that anything of the kind has taken place. They have gone to great lengths to emphasize the security both of the nuclear weapons in Pakistan and nuclear material.

They have also said they don't think there has been a technology transfer. In fact, because there were other people arrested also associated with this charity, the issue may not really be nuclear, but it may be about money and a concern that this charity was in fact perhaps funneling money to the Taliban or to al Qaeda.


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